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Letters to the Editor

DUP openly supporting further division in our divided land

Yes, the ink wasn’t even dry on the EU draft legal withdrawal text, never mind the fact that it wasn’t even released, when out charged the DUP Top Gun Brexiteers to rubbish it. Now seizing the opportunity yet again to bask in the full glare and glory of the national press, the feisty trio of Dodds, Donaldson and Wilson were screaming blue murder, accusing the EU of an attempted “land-grab” of our wee country and threatening Armageddon because the “constitutional status” of NI was under grave threat. And, right on cue, (doubtless at the behest of her DUP and hard-right master puppeteers), out comes May to agree, declaring she will “refuse to accept any Brexit deal that threatens the integrity of the UK”.  What a load of hysterical nonsense.  First off, this is not a ‘Brexit deal’ – it is merely ratification of what the UK had signed up to back in December –  it is legal-speak for the fudge that allowed talks to enter phase 2 negotiations – where we are now. We are a long way off a Brexit deal yet, and if the hard-line Tory and DUP Brexiteers get their way, there won’t be a deal at all.  Second off, this is a draft agreement, something proposed for discussion, something to be talked about. But how silly of me to forget that the DUP don’t do draft agreements any more – no point in getting involved in messy things like that because, heaven forbid, one might have to compromise.

I have argued from the start that the Tory Brexiteers could not give a fig about Ireland, north or South. They simply don’t care if Ireland becomes collateral damage as they relentlessly drive on their ideological vision for a ‘Britain Great Again’. To hell with the Irish economy, and to hell with peace in this land. And to show just how callous and ruthless they can be, they now attack the GFA as being on death row and Boris Johnson spouts nonsense talk of the acceptability of a ‘semi-hard’ border, with minimal physical checks and bristling with technological faux customs officers.  But what I find most incredible is the backing the DUP are giving to this hard line. By endorsing a hard Brexit a major political party from NI is openly supporting further division in our already sharply divided land  and, what’s more, they appear to be revelling in it.

Don’t be fooled by talk from the DUP of there already being a border here because of differing tax regimes. Soft fiscal borders currently exist between all members of the EU, but nowhere are there any internal physical or technological interventions to enforce them. The DUP are playing fast and loose with our fragile peace process, but they don’t seem to care. They may always get the last word in interviews, but on this one at least, it is the EU I think that will get the last laugh.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Alastair Hamilton must acknowledge Brexit realities

Writing in the Huffington Post Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton has described the concern that Brexit would be an “economic calamity” as “fiction”.

This is a remarkable contention given that many impact assessments including those by the Department for the Economy, the British Treasury and the London School of Economics agree that economic growth will suffer in the event of Brexit.

But Mr Hamilton does not cite any actual studies. Nor does he refer to the possibility of our trade with the EU being disrupted by tariff and non-tariff barriers. He also ignores the implications for farmers who depend on EU funding. The prospect of universities losing students, staff and research funding is omitted. The pivotal issue of the border is not even mentioned.

Instead of engaging with the real issues he presents a smattering of statistics which show that economic activity continues and in some areas has picked up recently. For example he observes that hotel occupancy rates were around 90 per cent last Christmas. Quite how this means that Brexit, if it happens, will not damage the economy is a  mystery.

While I appreciate that promoting a positive image of our economy is part of Invest’s role I doubt many would be impressed by Mr Hamilton’s incoherent argument.

I also appreciate that Mr Hamilton is entitled to his personal view on the merits of Brexit. However, as a public servant he should listen to and articulate the views of our business community and our citizens, 56 per cent of whom voted to remain.

With negotiations to determine our future relationship with the EU at a critical stage it is an important time to defend and assert our economic interests. Those interests would be better served by considered commentary and analysis rather than a superficial sales pitch.

Sinn Féin, Newry and South Armagh


Unionism doesn’t have a conscience

Nationalists took to the streets in their thousands in the non-violent civil rights marches to bring about peaceful political change in 1969. The first people to use political violence and murder in support of their Orange dictatorship were unionists. The first policeman shot, was on the Shankill Road by loyalists.

Unionism said no to peaceful political change, took away the politics of the ballot box and only left the politics of armed struggle to bring about political change. Unionism has not willingly shared power with their nationalist neighbours and only shared power when it was forced upon them.

This dictatorship mentality has not gone away. Look at the millions spent policing Orange parades over decades – £30 million in the Twadell protests and the money on clean-up costs after bonfires. Now unionism, after having their own way for decades, have a problem with the Irish language. Why should the Irish language not be prioritised as part of the Irish people taking back part of their culture? 

Draperstown, Co Derry


New strategy needed

With the collapse of the efforts to restore devolution in Northern Ireland, the DUP have found themselves on the hook once again. Ian Paisley found himself in a similar situation when efforts to share power with Sinn Féin were being opposed within the DUP. The call by Arlene Foster in recommending direct rule from London is like ‘keep digging when you are in a hole’. If direct rule is introduced from London the Irish government will have an influence.

It is now time for the UK and Irish governments, as both guarantors of the Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations of 1998, to evoke Article 1 and develop a new strategy for an united Ireland.

Templeogue, Dublin 6W


Notions of grandeur

That Sinn Féin demand a ‘compulsory Irish’ piece of paper to wave at the population of a British jurisdiction before going back into the government they destroyed more than a year ago, is so hilarious in these hard times, that one can but smile always at this typical type of outstanding ‘republican’ bleating. It really is a pity that these old ‘fenian’ notions of grandeur endure in this enlightened age of common sense. Have a word with them, someone, please, because those Shinners are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Bantry, Co Cork


Expression of thanks

The Rotary Club of Belfast street collection at Belfast City Hall on November 1 2017 raised £719.11 on behalf of Shelterbox, a charity providing shelter for refugees made homeless by natural or man-made disasters worldwide. Many thanks

Past President and Membership Chairman,
Rotary Club, Belfast

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