Letters to the Editor

Full blame for north's mess lies in London at door of 10 Downing St

January 10 2017 is a day that will stand in history. It was the day where we witnessed Martin McGuinness appear on our TV screens to read aloud his letter of resignation, calling time on the most recent phase of power sharing in the north of Ireland.
Was he right to do so? In the month’s previous to this stand  we saw the blatant disrespect for all things Irish and indeed all things non-British from ‘Curry-my-yoghurt’ to the withdrawal and magical reinstatement of a Gaeltacht Bursary Scheme from the DUP alongside the toxic RHI scandal. This, tied with growing discontent from the progressive communities in the north due to the continued denial of basic rights by a backward, conservative partner in government were the reasons why Martin had to call time on the institutions.
Since 2007, the republican/nationalist community have bent over backward to keep the show on the road at Stormont. Now, it goes without saying that power sharing has brought about some positive changes but, in its current form and while political unionism cannot accept that all citizens here should be treated equally, whether they be from the Fountain, the Falls, Creggan or the Shankill, it cannot go on. At Good Friday, St Andrews and Fresh Start all parties in those negotiations made compromises and signed up to those agreements apart from the DUP at Good Friday and of course the SDLP and UUP at Fresh Start. Sinn Féin have, in my opinion, taken the biggest political risks, time and time again, throughout each of these periods of negotiations. They have shown leadership at times when others sat on their hands. Despite the continued attempts of revisionism from the SDLP ‘leadership’ around the issue of welfare, Sinn Féin were able to extract £585m from the Tory Government in an attempt to offset the worst of what was to come through Tory welfare reform. The SDLP shout that powers over welfare were handed back to the Tories in London. Without context that may be true. Anyone who reads into what actually happened will know that the reason for this was to fast track the process in order to offset the financial penalties of £5m per month which were being imposed on the executive from the British Treasury at the time. This measure was described as a transitory provision to provide the secretary of state the power to introduce the measures in the first instance and that these powers would be reverted back to the devolved institution, being the executive.
Now my next question to the SDLP is, what would your alternative to the measures taken by the Sinn Féin negotiating team? They voted against the mitigations in Fresh Start. If it was up to the SDLP, people here in the North would be bearing the full impact of Tory Welfare Cuts. I must say that the full blame for this mess lies in London at the door of 10 Downing Street.

EAMON McGINLEY
Derry City

 

Free State would be much better off without EU

The Tories, Fine Gael, the DUP and the EU had simple tasks to perform in relation to Ireland in the context of Brexit. Secure trade between Britain and the Free State, trade between the Free State and the six counties, trade between the six counties and Britain and the axiomatic matter of the absence of a hard border.  

The Free State accounts for 33 per cent of six county goods exports, 40 per cent of six county services exports and 36 per cent of total exports from the six counties. The six counties account for 1.7 per cent of Free State exports. 

The total trade between the jurisdictions in Ireland amounts to €3.40279bn/ £2.47761bn a year. The trade from north to south is €1.83032bn/ £1.336bn per annum and the trade from south to north €1.57247bn/£1.14161bn yearly. 

The Free State is the fifth biggest customer for Britain’s exports. Britain is the second biggest customer for Free State exports.

13.8 per cent of exports from the Free State go to Britain and the six counties. According to the Office for National Statistics, 5.0 per cent of Britain’s exports of goods and services go to the Free State. The Central Statistics Office stated that the Free State exports €33.6bn, €15.6bn in goods and €18bn in services, to Britain and Britain exports €29.4bn, €18bn in goods and €11.4bn in services, to the Free State. The Central Statistics Office also stated that €89bn of foreign direct investment in Britain comes from the Free State and €37bn of foreign direct investment in the Free State comes from Britain.

If the European Union thinks it can use Ireland to punish Britain then there should be unfriendly reminders that the Free State does not need the EU, in fact, it would be much better off without it, but that the EU needs the Free State as a net contributor and a source of fish. As Damien Tiernan recalled in Souls of the Sea, the value of the amount of fish taken from Irish seas by Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands exceeds the combined total of EU grants to the Free State.

EAMONN MacGRIANNA
Belfast BT11

 

DUP and economic warfare

I’ve tried to wrap my head around the DUP position regarding phase one of Brexit. It jars so massively from the opinion of the majority of those who’ve publicly voiced support for circumstances that ease Brexit on this island. A bizarrely obstructive position must be a signal of an underlying motive. I now firmly believe that the DUP stance is rooted in economic warfare and territorial surgery against the Republic.
I’ve listened to many DUP members acknowledging that Brexit will be catastrophic for the Republic. Combine that with the ever creeping knowledge and electoral/census evidence that demographics are working against unionism. Since the Brexit vote, there has been a lot of talk about reunification of Ireland from within southern parties and at the peak of government too. Commendably, they’re openly defending the aspiration.
I firmly believe that the DUP are exploiting their position to wreck the Republic’s economy via Brexit and carve the border ever deeper.
Who would then want to unite with an economic basket case to the south? Especially since we in the north are living in the DUP’s Brexit utopia and thus securing the union with GB for generations.
This sounds more like the DUP to me. From crisis arises opportunity for loyalism. Be careful what you wish for DUPers.

CATHAL SANDS
Newry, Co Down

 

Meaningless Dublin guff

Is everyone forgetting that the Irish government has absolutely no say in what form our border after Brexit will take?
All the guff from Dublin is meaningless in this context, as it will be Britain alone who decides this.

The EU is equally helpless and is just making noise to be seen to have some authority over matters of British jurisdiction, which it doesn’t.

Sinn Féin being in favour of the EU is hilarious when from as far back to when we voted to enter the Common Market the Shinners were vehemently opposed to the bloc. Perhaps it now is a tool they see to articulate their interminable demands of ‘rights’, ‘parity’, ‘mandates’, ‘respect’ and ‘no border’ stuff, followed by that elusive ‘united Ireland’.
All of their aspirations are further away than ever, just refer to the true zeitgeist, not the worn out dreams of nonsensical extreme nationalism.

ROBERT SULLIVAN
Bantry, Co Cork

 

Expression  of thanks

The Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland North would like to thank the people of Belfast and surrounding areas for their very generous donations given to our collectors on Saturday November 25.

You have raised the sum of £1,496.

LORNA McATEER
Belfast

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