BRIAN HUNT, Ballinagee,

A chara, - The decision of Fianna Fáil to direct that the Irish flag be flown at half-mast following the death of a British royal was incredible.

Of course British people, including those who live in Ireland, have the right to mourn the death of a member of the British royal family whom they respected. I can also understand why Bertie Ahern and President McAleese both extended their sympathies to that same family on their recent bereavement.

But it must be unique for a government in a "republic" to fly the national flag at half-mast following the death of a foreign monarch. That the main government partner calls itself the "Republican Party" is surely extraordinary.

The decision must have caused pain to those many families that have lost loved ones at the hands of British forces whom the royal family are proud to represent. - Is mise,


(Sinn Féin),


Co Monaghan.

... ... * ... * ... * ... ...

Sir, - The question as to whether it was appropriate for State buildings to fly the Tricolour at half-mast as a mark of respect to the Queen Mother should be judged not by reference to her nationality. Rather, we should ask whether we would lower the flag to mark the death of any other international dignatory.

Government decisions to pay our respects to a foreign dignatory become contentious only when a Briton is concerned. Objections to the suggestion of a visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth II reveal a lack of confidence and national maturity.

Is our independence, sovereignty and national identity likely to be diminished by a visit from the Queen or by the lowering of the Tricolour? Of course not. It's time to for everyone to grow up. - Yours, etc.,




Co Wicklow.