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Letters: May 2, 2019

Lyra’s life was celebrated on streets that loved her

AS you enter Donegal Street in Belfast from the junction with Waring Street, on your left a derelict building stands, graffiti covered. It was here that United Irishman and Presbyterian Henry Joy McCracken was on trial for his life for taking part in the rebellion of 1798. 

Moving to the other side of the road, further along are the offices of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and tucked in a side alley the premises of the Communist Party of Ireland. 

Further up is the John Hewitt pub, a haunt of tourists who sit side-by-side with political activists and revolutionaries. The walls are adorned with recognition of Betty Sinclair and Davy Ervine — the pub is named after Ulster poet and socialist John Hewitt, a modern united Irishman.

Opposite the pub in Writer’s Square, a plaque and bust mark depicts a volunteer from the city who fought against the fascists in the Spanish civil war — comrades from both communities united to fight a common enemy. 

Along from this is the Kremlin nightclub, a central point for LGBT people in Belfast — a community still being treated as second-class citizens. Opposite the club, wildflowers grow in Buoy Park, once a run down concrete space, as attitudes towards biodiversity are centre stage in the fight against climate change.

On April 24 a priest, in a church damaged by the nazi raids in World War II and perhaps drawing on revolutionary theology, received a standing ovation from a crowd as a progressive LGBT activist, Lyra McKee, was given a guard of honour by the National Union of Journalists as she made made her final journey, along Belfast’s revolutionary street. 
GREG SACHNO 
Unite the Union Irish Region

Even at £1.20 the Star is excellent value for money

STAR readers will surely want to do all they can to ensure that our daily newspaper continues its historic task of making the case for democratic socialism, as a threadbare capitalism continues to lurch from crisis to crisis and the vast majority of the mainstream media ignores – or disgracefully misrepresents – the rational case for socialism (Regrettably, increased production costs force this paper to adjust its prices, M Star April 27–28).

Far from being “an expensive product for its size” (to quote Ben Chacko), a newspaper that spares us a deluge of inane advertising and gives us direct access to its rich variety of news and campaigns, penetrating analysis, international coverage, theoretical articles, artistic coverage, book reviews and great editorial and letters pages is excellent value for money at just £1.

And that’s not to mention the special extended editions frequently produced at no extra cost and the free copies distributed at major demonstrations, union conferences and the like. 
I do wonder whether we readers show the Star’s staff sufficient recognition and gratitude for the great job they all do.

Also, the price increase will cost regular readers just a further £1 a week — that’s the cost of a loaf of bread and the fraction of the cost of a pint of beer. So, at the new price of £1.20 an issue, the Star is still great value, in my view.

I wonder, finally, whether we can have a brainstorming exercise on this letters page for ways of raising circulation and revenue?

I’m sure the paper’s creative readers can come up with all manner of innovative and workable suggestions. Here’s one idea. 

Could members of those unions who actively support the Star be offered a significantly reduced rate for subscription to the daily pdf and to the website?

Let’s flood the editor and his team with as many stellar ideas for supporting our paper as we can manage.
RICHARD HOUSE
Stroud

How would customs union stop cuts?

I WOULD be grateful if Will Podmore (M Star letters April 23) would explain how a customs union “would stop any future government reversing the disastrous EU-driven austerity policy.” 
Customs unions are agreements on tariffs. The Tories never needed prompting from the EU to slash public expenditure.

The Tories wish to avoid a customs union because it restricts — but might not prevent — making trade deals with other countries. We don’t need to worry too much if we are not able to import chlorinated chicken and hormone-stuffed beef from the US. 

However, it would be sad if a Labour government were unable to restrict imports of animal products from countries with lower animal welfare standards (which could be much higher) than here.
CAROL WILCOX
Christchurch

Cop corruption show Line of Duty seems to send down a lot of BAME officers

I DO not see racism everywhere, maybe I haven’t been looking. Having watched police drama Line of Duty however I see it almost staring me in the face. 

The show centres around a police unit (AC12) entrusted with huntiing down corrupt officers. They have made arrests and broken links to organised crime. I have noticed a disproportionate number of BAME officers involved in corruption. 

In series one we saw the downfall of compromised detective inspector Tony Gates, who was of West Indian origin. 

In series two a corrupt Asian officer, Manish Prasad, was involved in prostitution. In series four DI Roz Huntley, who is mixed race, kills another officer and tries to frame her husband.

Series five begins with an Asian officer passing classified information to criminals in order to assist a relative. Meanwhile BAME and East Europeans feature heavily in a criminal gang. 

A central character is AC12 head, Irishman Ted Hastings, who in series one described himself as “blacker than anyone.” In Sunday’s episode he was arrested on corruption charges. 
BRENT CUTLER
Southampton

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