DUP successfully argued its case and put manners on taoiseach
There are a number of observations that can be made of last week’s Brexit agreement.
Firstly, the EU has ceded their territorial and constitutional claim to Northern Ireland in its entirety to the UK. They have accepted the British government’s assertion that it is the settled will of the population of NI to (i) leave the EU and (ii) remain inside the UK. The former is demonstrably not true and the latter has not been tested in the 20 years since the 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement even though designated unionists now comprise a minority in elections to both the Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster. The EU should have insisted that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland first call a referendum under the 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement to determine what constitutional preference the people have before concluding the first phase of Brexit negotiations.
Secondly, the Irish government, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have been outmanoeuvred by the British prime minister, Theresa May, and her government, which includes the DUP. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have been party to the collapse of the assembly during 2017 and arguments over the who, what and why of the collapse have been well rehearsed. Currently there is a stand-off between the DUP and Sinn Féin in which the latter specifically argues that successive British governments have not honoured previous international treaties with the Irish government. The Irish government is fully cognisant with this line of reasoning, and yet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar now confidently asserts that today’s agreed Brexit text is ‘politically bulletproof’. If successive British governments have never honoured previous international treaties made with the Irish government then why would do so now? One would have expected Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to at least have insisted that the British government demonstrate good faith by honouring these previous international treaties by reinstating the Northern Ireland Assembly before concluding the current Brexit agreement.
Thirdly, the Brexit agreement makes numerous references to upholding the 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement but makes no mention of subsequent agreements, such as St Andrews, that modify or alter it. This is disconcerting and it is not clear that the implications or ramifications of this have been thought out. If Fianna Fáil and Sin Féin had any sense they would call a vote of no confidence in the Fine Gael government and then work to improve the terms of this flawed Brexit agreement.
What we can say with some certainty is that in the face of considerable opprobrium the DUP have successfully argued their case and managed to put manners on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. Now there’s a party that knows how to negotiate!
BERNARD J MULHOLLAND
Holy Season is marred by unworthy practices
Colin Nevin is correct that Jesus/Yeshua commanded us to celebrate His death not His birth (December 1). Christians, however, instinctively mark the event of His birth because the news of it is a “joy to be shared by all the peoples” (Luke 2:10).
How do we mark His birth at Christmas? By doing what the Church does everyday of the year – by celebrating the Holy Mass – in which the saving death of the Lord is proclaimed and made present until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The Mass makes present the entire saving reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until the end of time. The Lord commanded us to celebrate the Eucharist in His memory (Luke 22:19) and the Church is faithful to this injunction every day of the year except for two – Good Friday and Holy Saturday – when we abstain from the Holy Eucharist out of mourning for what the Lord suffered.
The problem Colin highlights with the word ‘Easter’, as a term to designate the days[s] we commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection, only occurs in some Anglo-Saxon languages.
I simply repeat to Colin that, whatever translation of the Holy Name that people of various nationalities use, they are calling upon the Blessed Son of God in Whom alone is found salvation, for every person and nation under Heaven.
“God does not have favourites” and everyone of every nationality who does His will is acceptable to Him (Acts 10:34-35). This is the truth at the heart of the celebration of Christmas.
It is, indeed, sad to see the Holy Season marred by excesses and unworthy practices; but it is also entirely possible for Christians to keep Christmas properly – in the Spirit of Jesus Christ – who must animate us at all times and in every season.
Fr PATRICK McCAFFERTY
Irish News showing leadership
Belfast news editions have always come into focus as to whether or not does the ‘other side’ read them. The Give my head Peace skit where Da finds Uncle Andy chortling over an edition of Donegall Street’s finest and when questioned why is he reading it, Andy replies that he’s laughing at all the dead t##gs in the family notices. Yes, a dry and probably cold humour that some may find distasteful, but we all laugh at each other, as it was one of the reasons that we got through the past with a certain degree of sanity.
For example, the News Letter each weekend carries a piece on faith, with a picture of a church somewhere in the country; not once have I ever recall there being a Catholic Church featured or a Catholic cleric given an opinion piece. Likewise, if the title ‘Catholic’ does come up, it must always carry the derogatory prefix of ‘Roman’ since we know that many in the Protestant ecclesial communities still view Catholics in the terms of Anglican declaration of faith and the Westminster Confession. Where The Irish News does show leadership is that it does rise to the mark by regularly including other faith opinions in its pages, especially, in the weekly Faith Matters column.
I feel maybe that this policy could be adopted by others in the media, especially in Belfast.
Don’t tear down the dotted line
Some of you may have received letters from the DVA or DVLA, maybe recently or perhaps when you first received your licence. This letter may have instructed you to tear down the dotted line.
Please note this was an instruction on how to open the envelope or tear the page on the form.
Not, as many seem to have assumed, as an instruction or licence on how to drive.
So, if you did receive one of these letters, please, please stay in your own lane.
Do not under any circumstances tear down the dotted line.
One final point – 60mph is a maximum limit. Not a minimum and certainly not a requirement to reach at all costs no matter what the road, weather or lighting conditions are.
Drive to the actual conditions and your real ability. Not what your game console makes you think are your abilities.
MARTIN G McCAUL
Warrenpoint, Co Down
Bemused by artists’ lack of faith
With reference to the Thursday Q&A section in The Irish News to performers and artists I am bemused by the answer given to the final question: ‘Is there a God?’.
The majority of the interviewees seem to have difficulty giving a straight answer. Do people in general not believe in God anymore? I suppose it is not considered ‘cool’ in the entertainment world to admit to believing in the existence of such a being. Fair play to Cara Dillon (November 30) who answered with a resplendent ‘definitely’.
Ballymena, Co Antrim