Letters to the Editor

Dublin has yet to learn people in north are quite sensitive

A Sinn Fein billboard calling for 'No Hard Border' on display in west Belfast

The Irish government have been given the clearest indication yet that their approach to Northern Ireland and the border/Brexit issue is the wrong approach.

Much criticism has come from unionists in saying that an ‘aggressive approach’ has been taken by the government in border talks. The people in Northern Ireland are quite sensitive people – something which has yet to be learned by Dublin.

They deserve respect, understanding, and compassion. Something which Simon Coveney is not giving them and which will be fatal as talks reach a climax. Approach is everything. Northern Ireland unionist politicians are not like politicians in the Republic.

They have a different style and if you want their agreement you are going to have to gain it by decorum. Dail Éireann is not Stormont. Politicians do not regularly abuse each other as they do in Leinster House.

It is not the British way and Mr Coveney may wake up to that fact when it is far too late. Northern Ireland is part of the UK and there is no strong indication the people there want that to change. It is not part of the Republic and delegations from Dublin need to realise that they are out of their jurisdiction.

The border issue does not give them the right to dictate and when they do so they can expect the strongest opposition from unionists. Any time the Irish government have shown insensitivity or strong views in relation to Northern Ireland, it has been the same story with unionists reacting badly to it and defensively. The message every time to the Irish government and Sinn Féin has been – change your attitude and approach.

The people in Northern Ireland have gone through a great deal of suffering with the Troubles, they want some respect. They are not going to be bullied or harassed or forced to make a deal because of the EU’s agenda for expediency.

The EU’s support for the Irish government is also one where they are taking sides and is ill-advised in giving the Irish government the final say on border/Brexit talks. Another document for Northern Ireland is under way, but like all matters to do with Northern Ireland, it will require cross-community support.

This Brexit/border document could be as hard won as the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and looking for a quick deal, just because other member states are due to meet on a certain day to vote, is stupid. The sweet-smiling and palm-pressing is not fooling anyone. Britain may not be able to leave the EU at all if it does not sort out the situation.

A totally different approach must be taken, especially by the Irish government, if they want unionist support and not one of arrogance, aggression and insistence. 

MAURICE FITZGERALD
Shanbally, Co Cork

 

North was created on strictly sectarian head count

Last month Lord Kilclooney – unionist John Taylor in a previous life – claimed that Donegal should join the UK.

“It really is the hinterland of Northern Ireland and it would be great to have it back with us”.

Irish News readers and Lord Kilclooney should be reminded of how Co Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan came to be separated from the other six counties of the ancient province of Ulster.

In June 1921 King George V came to Belfast to open the New Parliament of Northern Ireland after the passing of the Government of Ireland Act 1920.

Readers need to be aware that the creation of Northern Ireland was passed by the Westminster Parliament on a strictly sectarian head count to give the Protestant/Unionist/Orange population superiority for all time.  
The figures of the 1911 Census gave the Protestant/Catholic population for each of the nine Ulster counties:
Protestant percentage: Antrim 79.5; Armagh 54.7; Derry 54.2; Down 68.4; Fermanagh 43.8; Tyrone 44.6; Cavan 18.5; Donegal 21.1; Monaghan 25.3.

The words of Edward Carson in Westminster on 18th May 1920 make clear the unionist position: “The figures will at once show where the difficulty comes in. We have to refer in these matters to Protestant and Catholics – we should only be making the very greatest camouflage of argument if we did not treat them in that way, because these are really the burning question over there. The inclusion of these six counties would bring in under the jurisdiction of the north of Ireland parliament 820,000 protestants out of 890,000 in the whole province. On the other hand, while you would leave out 70,000 who are in these three counties, you would bring in from these three counties into the northern province an additional 260,000 Roman Catholics.”

And there are those who say that Northern Ireland is just like Yorkshire or any other county in England?

GERRY GLENNON
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

 

Signatories’ narrow view of future

An open letter (December 11) signed by 200 prominent nationalists and republicans expressed concerns about the nature of our society. It didn’t set out the type of future they are supporting, but it was focused very narrowly on the demands and aspirations of one part of the community.

Northern Ireland is a beautiful place and its people have great attributes, but we got it wrong when it came to building constructive and inclusive relationships. That is true across these islands more generally. In 1998, we showed a determination to give ourselves another chance, based on a genuinely shared future. It’s a work in progress, but the key is that we all agree to make this place work, whatever our constitutional preferences.

The letter used narrow language conjuring up an exclusive concept of Irishness that does not include one-fifth of the population of this island.  

Do the letter’s signatories want an Ireland that includes the British/Irish tradition and recognises the mistakes of the past? Do they repudiate the unnecessary campaign of violence waged by the IRA and its loyalist equivalents? Do they agree that the use of such violence was wrong, unjustified and unjustifiable?

Each of its authors should answer these questions so that we can better judge the type of future they’re proposing.

TREVOR RINGLAND
Holywood, Co Down

 

Shocking level of hate crime

I was horrified to learn that more than eight hate crime incidents were reported to the police every day last year in Northern Ireland.

The figure was higher than the equivalent rate in England and Wales, according to the latest inspection by the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI).

It is truly shocking to see the sheer level of hate crime in Northern Ireland.

Clearly those who have no respect for their fellow human beings feel confident that they will get away with their disgusting behaviour. It is up to all of us to close ranks and make sure that they don’t.

Northern Ireland’s hate crime legislation urgently needs to be reviewed and updated to make sure it is fit for purpose.

We also need to investigate the potential for extending good relations beyond race, political opinion and religion to the hate crime categories. Gender also needs to  be included in any updated hate crime legislation.

MALACHAI O'HARA
Green Party North Belfast

 

Incredible claims

Allison Morris (November 29) reports that former grenadier guard Alan Barry wants to make a documentary called ‘The Great Betrayal’ as a response to probes into British state killings in Ireland. Incredibly Mr Barry claims: “We had rules of engagement. We had to shout halt or I’ll fire”.

Did soldiers shout this before the Ballymurphy massacre?

Is all this some sort of sick joke?

MICHAEL O FLYNN
Cork City 

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