Letters to the Editor

A lot of angst could be avoided by UK remaining inside EU

I think most observers will agree that the Brexit White Paper is underwhelming in many aspects.

Alliance’s Dr Stephen Farry has repeatedly commented on the contradictory red lines apparent in Westminster’s negotiating stance, but perhaps they were placed there for a reason – to stymie those negotiations.

This is a common ruse in negotiations. And it’s one wielded by a Cabinet of Oxford graduates well-versed in winning debates and negotiations.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, currently suffers the slings and arrows of her detractors, but her team have already won significant battles.

Firstly, although much derided, her decision to call an early Westminster election effectively led to the rout of UKIP resulting in the party’s almost complete annihilation.

Secondly, Theresa May appointed three prominent Brexiteers – Johnson, Davis and Fox – into ministerial offices central to delivering Brexit where they would either succeed beyond all expectations, or, as has been the case, to fail miserably under the public’s gaze.

The three Brexiteers have arguably failed to either chart a coherent way forward for the UK as it leaves the EU, or to address the relatively minor issues raised by EU negotiators and their guns are well and truly spiked.

Thirdly, the cyclical nature of events means that threat from mass migration has largely subsided now, and the EU has finally begun to take the issue seriously.

This has been helped enormously by the waning of Angela Merkel’s star and a new dynamic within EU member states.

Fourthly, it can be argued that the EU and its Commission have tended to favour one-size-fits-all trade negotiations that fail to take advantage of those sectors in which member states or regions excel at internationally.

Are asymmetrical negotiations the solution in which those member states or regions, such as the City of London that has expertise in the financial sector, take a lead role initiating or enhancing trade negotiations?

The global financial sector is due for an overhaul and the EU could play a major role in that negotiation, and London’s international finance sector would arguably wield far more influence from within the EU if it were reformed.

Lastly, at this stage of Brexit negotiations perhaps the EU and UK negotiating teams would be better served by listing those advantages the UK thinks it could gain by leaving the EU and for the latter then to explore whether the EU’s infrastructure could be adapted to better address these issues while the UK still remains a member state.

A lot of angst could be avoided by the UK remaining inside the EU and if all it takes is a few tweaks here and there to keep them in then let’s do it.

Belfast BT9


Sinn Féin won’t swallow illogical pride to prevent chaos here

On Monday night any chance of Northern Ireland remaining in the Customs Union was effectively destroyed in a debate that was won by a mere three votes.

This has huge and profound implications for the north, for its businesses and for its people. Unless there is a significant sea-change in the chain of events, Northern Ireland’s economy, its trade relationship with other EU states lay solely in the hands of Pro-Brexit Tory MPs and the DUP. They are dumbfounded in their claims that a hard Brexit will be good for the north.

To compound the issue, this vote opens the door wide for a hard border on the island of Ireland. That is massively damaging for the border, for businesses in Tyrone, Fermanagh and Derry who rely on cross-border trade to survive and to pay their workers.

Serious and hard questions need to be asked of our representatives at Westminster and not only who is representing not only nationalism, but who is representing the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland. Time and time again, we’ve seen reports, analysis and studies into the impact Brexit will have here yet Sinn Féin will not swallow their unfounded and illogical pride in order to prevent catastrophe and chaos here.

I do not believe that Sinn Féin truly believe in a 100-year-old irrelevant and unnecessary policy. Opportunities to stop Brexit and the hard border are waning. We have no voice, no scrutiny of this government’s ridiculous Brexit policy and we now have no ‘backstop’ protection in preventing a hard border on this island. 

The SDLP has been crucified for our willingness to take our Westminster seat and put people before principle. We would have said no to reckless Tory Brexiteers and the ideologically driven DUP who care more about delivering on their facade of ‘taking back control’ than actually delivering for their constituents. 

As the window of opportunity quickly closes, we have 10 DUP MPs chasing their egos with an extreme Brexit and we have seven Sinn Féin MPs who simply don’t turn up. They could have had a profound impact in blocking Monday night’s bill and ensuring no matter what deal our constituents and our businesses were protected.

SDLP, West Tyrone 


Chance to vote for a good cause

Six fantastic projects from Northern Ireland have been named as finalist in The National Lottery Awards 2018 and they now need your readers’ support to help them win.  

The National Lottery Awards are the annual search for the public’s favourite National Lottery-funded projects. They celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.

Culture Night Belfast is competing in the Best Arts Project category. Meanwhile, both Connswater Community Greenway and the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership Scheme go head to head in the Best Environment Project category.

Derry-based addiction support charity Hurt (Have Your Tomorrows) is striving to be named Best Health project while HMS Caroline is attempting to sail away with the Best Heritage project. And the Blind Tennis at Windsor Tennis Belfast, run by Disability Sport NI is in the running for the Best Sports project award.

They could be in with the chance of winning £5,000 and appearing on a BBC One show on September 26. They would be delighted if people could support them by casting a vote on  www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards. But please be quick.  Voting closes at midnight on Friday July 27. 

National Lottery Awards


Betraying Christian morality

I agree with J Gallagher, ‘Ashamed to be called Irish in new ‘liberal’ Ireland’ (July 12). Many people have been shocked by the crying and cheering at the result of the May 2018 abortion referendum. A British newspaper described ‘the near hysterical reaction pretty nauseating’.
Sixty two per cent of ‘Yes’ voters cited the right to choose as the important factor in their decision. For many of them, the choice of abortion is a determination only to have wanted children and a way of managing sexual activity. They obviously think that the Commandments do not apply to them. Why should they? The Church is often afraid to speak out against à la carte Catholics. Politicians are flexible and think ‘We lag behind Europe on abortion’.  Obstetricians say ‘We should grow up’. We have betrayed not only the Proclamation but also Christian morality. The only people with any credibility in Ireland include Donegal, two Sinn Féin, a few Independents and approx 50 per cent Fianna Fáil politicians, and the DUP. All we can hope for is that those 50 per cent Fianna Fáil politicians and the Independents will have the courage to vote against the proposed abortion legislation.

Arklow, Co Wicklow  

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