Calamities abroad put our problems into perspective

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Northern Ireland faces many pressing issues that will keep Stormont busy for years to come.

There are extreme demands on our healthcare as the population ages, yet a general refusal to accept any sort of NHS rationing, such as prescription charges.

There is a deep ideological divide over whether to maintain our selective education system, that has enabled us to have some of the finest state schools in the UK.

There is an even more bitter split over the recent history of the Province, regarding issues such as blame for the past and accountability for violent wrongdoing.

But our problems, while many, pale into insignificance compared to the traumas experienced in other parts of the world.

In Rwanda, nearly 10 per cent of the population was annihilated in six weeks 20 years ago, in one of the worst holocausts in human history (Northern Ireland lost 0.2 per cent of its population over the 30+ years of the Troubles).

In Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, more than 100,000 people were killed by the 2010 earthquake.

And in much of Africa, people are still dying from diseases which don’t exist in the UK, such as malaria, or being paralysed by polio, which was largely eradicated in Europe 50 years ago.

Despite the unresolved issues at home, the Northern Ireland population has an intuitive sense of its good fortune, and can dig deeply into its pockets when news arrives of suffering abroad.

A photographic exhibition has now opened in Belfast, featuring images taken by Matt Mackey from Belfast, showing why the £1.25 million donated by Ulster folk to the Philippines after last year’s typhoon, which killed thousands of people, was needed in the stricken areas.

He visited the country with Concern Worldwide, which says it has helped more than 100,000 people, many of whom have been itching to get back to being able to provide for themselves.

They are deserving recipients of donor money.