Letters to the Editor

Ireland should capitalise on good will emanating from EU

There you go,  Brexit is sorted – no real borders in Ireland or on the Irish sea, nationalists, unionists, Dublin and London are all satisfied with the EU deal and we’re all going to live happily ever after in a pan European utopia. It’s a pity we don’t live in a fairy story. Now begins the exercise in real power as the bankers and the corporations make the most of the new opportunities. They won’t worry about the niceties of any of the political agreements, Good Friday or otherwise. Cold, hard calculation (especially in Brussels) will determine the position and density of any border.

The financial powerhouse in London is mostly interested in minimising probable charges on cyber trade and in reducing the relocation of institutions to Europe. Frankly, the comparatively small amount of trade between 32-county Ireland and the UK is only of interest to us on the island.

The big money in England is looking to the east. The wagging DUP tail, accidentally or otherwise, has helped write into the deal a soft Brexit charter that, likely, future proofs the alignment of EU and British standards that will simplify the movement of goods and services across whatever border finally appears. There is no such commitment on tariffs which are bound to be slanted in the EU’s favour.

That the Tories are painfully aware of the weakness in their position is evidenced by the body language of Theresa May – she all but curtsied to Jean-Claude Juncker when the deal was announced. The north appears to be headed for some form of hybrid status, a buffer between Ireland, the UK and Europe. It was amusing to hear the DUP stand up for the all-Ireland arrangements that have organically grown since the Good Friday Agreement.

A tacit admission that the island is a natural economic unit. This new status is a promising opportunity for all of Ireland and we should capitalise on the good will emanating from the EU to get the best terms for future trade. Dublin has often found ‘creative’ ways of attracting business to the south and if there is some form of special arrangement for the north they will find ways to exploit it that should be to the benefit of us all. The current border is bleeding into insignificance.

Increasingly Dublin will hold more of the economic purse strings across the island, backed up by EU muscle. Britain will struggle to maintain cohesion, ironically even London city has broken ranks to pursue parity with our little island.

The DUP bit the hand that feeds when they humiliated the Tory government. 

GERARD HERDMAN
Belfast BT11  

 

Prioritise needs of vulnerable Rohingya children

MORE than 626,000 Rohingya people have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since early August 2017. These people are fleeing violence in Rakhine State where security forces are ‘clearing out terrorists’. The majority of the Rohingya are Muslims but they are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar and are therefore considered a ‘stateless’ people. This is the third major movement of Rohingya into Bangladesh as a result of violence. The first happened in the mid-1970s. The second in 1992 when I was in Cox’s Bazar at the time to witness these terrified people seeking refuge in Bangladesh. The third major movement is the current crisis which has escalated since mid-August 2017.

On each of the previous occasions of movement of the Rohingya, they were encouraged to return to Myanmar – which many of them they did, only for them or their children to have to flee again. The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have already agreed that the Rohingya should return to Myanmar on a ‘voluntary’ basis as reported on November 23. However, until their citizenship is recognised and the systematic discrimination stops there is little point in them returning
to Myanmar. 

Plan International is calling on the international community to prioritise the needs of vulnerable Rohingya children arriving in Bangladesh. Adolescent girls in particular must be protected, as they are one of the groups most at-risk of gender-based violence within the camps.

PAUL O'BRIEN
CEO Plan International Ireland
Dublin 8

 

David Davis should pack bags and go

I absolutely concur with John Manley’s analysis in (December 7) that David Davis’s failure to conduct an appropriate dialogue with citizens in the north’s border counties is totally unacceptable.

I wrote to Mr Davis earlier this year inviting him, or one of his [many] junior ministers to participate in a debate on Brexit at the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford in August. I didn’t even receive an acknowledgement of the invitation, let alone a reply or any form of communication at all. Participants included representatives from the SDLP, Sinn Féin, the UUP, the European Parliament, the private sector, Ray Bassett as well as John de Chastelain and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern. They all had the courage of their convictions to respond positively to the invitation to attend.

It is no wonder that the process has disintegrated into a total shambles.

David Davis and Theresa May should be packing to go together. 

TOMMY FEGAN
Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School, Co Louth

 

DUP display of double standards

Desperate to hide the fact that the DUP gained precisely nothing by delaying the move to the next stage of UK-EU negotiations, the party’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds is now trying to sell “unfettered access to Northern Ireland’s largest market” as some sort of success. 

That was, of course, never under any threat. Yet the whole process of Brexit consists fundamentally of depriving the UK of “unfettered access to its largest market”, namely the EU.

It is simply impossible to argue on one hand that your main objective is ‘unfettered access’ to your ‘largest market’ and then on the other to pursue an objective, in Brexit, which deprives your country of precisely that.

It is small wonder, when Lady Hermon provides the true and consistent voice of Northern Ireland on this issue in the Commons, the DUP leader there resorts to callous insults rather than engaging on the issues. His position is, after all, one of unfettered double standards. 

IAN JAMES PARSLEY
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

 

Dragged down by dogma

Amidst all the finger-pointing about the border issue from all sides, one wonders if there are any rational politicians left. Both unionists and republicans are dragging us into the dark ages with their ideological dogma. Vested interests are attempts to pigeon-hole us into green and orange.

Why is there no talk about the possibility of an Ulster Nation open to anyone with either an Irish or British passport which operates outside the EU? 

All these childish ‘Punch and Judy’ antics from all and sundry is an attempt to ‘divide and conquer’.
Ulster deserves better.

DESMOND DEVLIN
Ardboe, Co Tyrone

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