Letters to the Editor

It's time for logic and reason to set path forward for Brexit

Eamonn MacGrianna (December 11) appears to be mired under several major misapprehensions regarding the Brexit process and the importance of the EU to Ireland. Without meaning to sound alarmist, he is verging on being a vessel of ‘fake news’. His quite obviously nonsensical claim that maintaining existing or equivalent trading and other relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland was the only task in front of the various parties involved in Brexit discussions and that that task was simple reveals rather more about his understanding of the reality of complex negotiations than it does about the current situation. While I am sure he did so inadvertently, he rightly highlighted the scale of the investment and trade at risk from Brexit, but his logic appears questionable when he goes on to state that this shows that the ‘Free State does not need the EU’. Moreover, that he would then go on to make another highly dubious claim in relation to fisheries and the role of the EU further calls into doubt his expertise on these subjects. Why he believes that a comparison between EU grants and the value of fish in Irish seas is worthwhile or noteworthy is beyond me. For the information of those out there who may also assume that EU membership has been damaging to Irish fishing – or Ireland in general – perhaps some facts would be of use. Ireland exports almost 65 per cent of its seafood to the EU with only c. 15 per cent of that going to the UK. France is actually the most important market to the Irish fishing industry in terms of market share and sales value. Moreover, exports to the likes of China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are growing fast and are already at c. 10 per cent. The EU has existing trading agreements with Japan and South Korea with a future one with China likely. Brexit Britain will have none of that leading to new tariffs from Ireland and elsewhere should no deal be made. While the Common Fisheries Policy has been targeted by Brexiteers, amongst others, since joining the EU, Ireland’s fish landings doubled between 1973 and 2013. Moreover, during that time, the Irish fishing industry has grown more innovative and expansive, including for example, expanding into deep sea fishing, which it didn’t do before EU membership. In fact, it could be argued that what was a low priority sector has become a high value, high growth sector as a result of having EU markets to sell to and creating demand within a country where fish consumption has tended to be much lower than our European neighbours. Brexit is an enormously complex issue, impacting all sectors of the economy on the island of Ireland. To tackle it, we require innovation, perspiration, and not a little inspiration. What we don’t need is jingoistic nonsense backed up with faulty logic. It’s time for logic and reason to set the path forward. 



North should be dismantled instead of strengthened

Sectarianism is built into the northern state. That is how it was designed by the British in the early years of the 20th century. They deliberately chose six of the nine counties of the traditional province of Ulster as there were too many ‘Taigs’ in the whole nine counties of Ulster. In the six north-eastern counties, they thought, there would be more certainty of maintaining a majority in favour of the union with Britain, especially if the majority unionist population felt they were receiving special concessions and able to control all aspects of civilian and political life.

The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was intended to be a new beginning involving the Dublin government as well as the London government, with a unionist/nationalist power sharing local assembly.
The power sharing arrangement in Stormont collapsed when the late Martin McGuinness resigned because of the DUP and their unwillingness to accept the principle of equality.
They wanted to hold on to the sectarian state.
In 2016 a majority in England and Wales, voted to take the UK out of the EU. That move was supported by the DUP even though a majority in the six counties voted to remain. That presented the prospect of a return to border controls. People in border communities protested and the Dublin government, along with the EU officials, have stood firmly against any return to border controls in Ireland. It is to be hoped that they will continue to stand firm against the unionists and the British.
This sectarian state must be dismantled instead of being strengthened, which would happen if the Brexiteers get
their way.

Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh


Need for new thinking

It is nearly a year since the Executive collapsed. There is a need for new thinking to get it re-established. I have a suggestion that may work – but it is not for the faint hearted. The DUP claim that they are opposed to an Irish language act but what they really dislike and fear is being dominated by nationalists, Sinn Féin in particular. When it comes to the crunch, the DUP would rather have an Irish language act rather than be in second place to Sinn Féin. What I am suggesting is that the SDLP announce that three of their MLAs will resign their seats and not contest the elections to replace them unless an executive is formed within a week. This would allow Sinn Féin to contest the election and win the seats. At present Sinn Féin are only one MLA less than the DUP. If Sinn Féin had three more MLAs they would outnumber the DUP and be able to have the position of First Minister as well as more ministers.
I have a feeling that the horror of being less powerful than Sinn Féin would get the DUP to accept an Irish language act and other items that they currently oppose. The benefits of this plan is that it would make the DUP decide if they want to be in an executive as the largest party or not. The SDLP might not lose three MLAs but even if they did there would still be nine SDLP MLAs left in order to provide an opposition to the executive. Someone has to provide leadership and initiative. It has been completely lacking for most of this year. Let us see what happens in January. 

Trier, Germany


Poignant illustration of state of our society

I had occasion to visit the A & E department of the Ulster Hospital this week and got my eyes opened as to what the staff of this department have to go through to earn a living.

At 10am I joined the queue of 44 people who were seeking medical attention, ranging from infants to aged, infirm adults and wondered if this service was not free what size the queue would be ?

By the state of some others one could hazard a guess that alcohol and tobacco contributed to being a major player in their life.

The ominous presence of four members of the PSNI being in close attendance at all times I was there, is a  poignant illustration of the state of our society today, and those who govern our lives.

Kircubbin, Co Down


Expression of thanks

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of many groups and individuals  the residents of Utility Street Men’s Hostel had a wonderful and most memorable Christmas.

We would like to thank, Jarlath McAllister, April Smith, Musgrave’s, Jo Gibson from RUTH , The Man Shack, Dary Graham’s footballers and Friendship House Sandy Row.


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