Our letter was not appeasement of SF but a cry for recognition of unionist concerns

Letter from civic unionists was cry for recognition of unionist concerns around rights, truth, equality and civil liberty
Letter from civic unionists was cry for recognition of unionist concerns around rights, truth, equality and civil liberty

In response to the letter ‘Letter by civic unionists looks like appeasement of SF tactics,’ March 8):

I was content to be one of the signatories of the letter from ‘civic unionists’ and others.

No mass letter is worded to the precise satisfaction of each signatory. I have my own concerns around the term ‘civic unionists’ and I agree the letter could be seen as condemning identity as somehow ‘stale’ or ‘limiting’. But I do not believe that is the message we wished to convey.

Rather than attempting to ‘distance’ ourselves from the wider unionist community, this letter was a cry for recognition of unionists’ own concerns around rights, truth, equality and civil liberty.

That we are no longer prepared to be denigrated by those who wish to label us as somehow opposed to these fundamental values, which are as much a concern to our own community as to any other.

Our identity is not ‘stale and limiting’. This was merely recognition that societies and communities affected by conflict often look inward rather than outward.

An attempt to break through barriers, to challenge assumptions around our community and to reach out to others to find common ground, a base from which to build.

As a community we HAVE been rendered invisible. Where are those championing our own cultural rights around issues such as parades? Where are those fighting for young people who continue to suffer deprivation and underachievement that has been left unaddressed for decades?

I am well aware there are some good people in our community striving to raise these issues, I just don’t see them being given much recognition for doing so, nor do I see them making much progress.

As a community we have been denied truth, justice, rights and equality. Our culture is denigrated, ridiculed and insulted.

I recognise there are some legitimate concerns from the nationalist community in terms of Irish language, but I continue to reject and challenge the propaganda of Sinn Fein, who refuse to recognise our own right to a democratically elected government over an Irish language act they have not once attempted to legislate for during the last ten years.

I outwardly refute any notion of appeasement. We must sift through the propaganda and recognise what legitimate concerns remain. We must work to build an equitable and prosperous future for all.

These are only my own views: I do not speak for the other signatories.

Richard Garland, Dunmurry BT17