Letters to the Editor

If Sinn Féin really prefers a damaging Brexit why not say so?

So the theory that the good citizens of Ballymena were prepared to sink the career of someone called Ian Paisley, failed by a 0.06 per cent. However, if any party suffers from a negative Heineken effect in Ballymena, it is Sinn Féin. 

Still, as yet another gimmick recedes from memory we head towards the Brexit endgame of what Mary Lou declared in February to be “a clear and imminent threat” to Ireland. That raises the question what is the cunning plan? 

Sinn Féin don’t go to Westminster but claim to be ‘working’ here at home. An old saying was ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’. So, maybe the strategy is masterly inactivity, do nothing, sit back and let the Tories and DUP bring the house down.

An optimist might hope there is a master plan for Sinn Féin.
One might be to reach out to DUP voters over the heads of the politicians and force them to explain and defend a Brexit policy which is against their own voters’ interests. There clearly is a debate to be had and there must be a lot of intimidated DUP supporters suffering ‘buyers’ remorse’. In doing so it should be made crystal clear that the DUP will be responsible for delivering this Brexit and, a ‘rethink’ on their part would be pivotal.

Sinn Féin could hold public meetings, invite local MPs to debate, give speeches, interviews and circulate position papers. 

They could point out that at last year’s election May promised to support English and Welsh farmers, but forgot about Northern Ireland. Sure, farming is a devolved power, but here 80 per cent of farm incomes come from the EU CAP. 

This is not a subsidy, it’s a benefit and we all know the Tory approach to benefits.

Sinn Féin could highlight Gove’s farming plans for England, a post Brexit transition for farm income support, from 2022 to 2027, during which he will phase out most of these extra subsidies. 

They could ask how long voters think Diageo’s bottling plant in Mallusk, (which, using cream from the Republic, produces 70 per cent of the world’s supply of Baileys), will stay open after a hard Brexit? They could challenge Gavin Robinson on how he thinks support for Brexit will improve Bombardier employees’ job prospects?

Sinn Féin politicians could do all this. So what has been stopping them? On the other hand, if Sinn Féin really prefers a damaging Brexit why not say so? If not, do something about it, otherwise we can all draw our own conclusions.

Belfast BT9


Retain a soft border because of north’s ‘unique circumstances’

On Friday December 22 2017 Britain’s PM Theresa May addressed some issues raised on what would happen to the border in Ireland after Brexit – ‘Cross-border travel will remain seamless, May tells Irish News Readers’.

That was the headlines given that day. 

Mrs May also told readers that the circumstances in Northern Ireland were “unique”. That makes it different from Scotland and Wales. Is the secretary of state Karen Bradley aware of the reason why a British border on the island of  Ireland was established by the Westminster Parliament in 1920 by the Partition Act (Government of Ireland Act 1920)?

The Unionist Party in partnership with the Orange Order was intended to have one party government ‘in perpetuity’. This indeed did last from 1921 until Stormont was suspended in 1972. The only other rival to compare with Northern Ireland’s one party system was Stalin’s communist party government in Russia.

Does the present Westminster Parliament have no shame for the way the Catholic minority was treated from 1921 until 1972? Reference should be made to Lord Cameron’s report in September 1969 ‘Summary of Conclusions on Causes of Disorders’.

Is it surprising that the recently published The Rise and Fall of the British Nation by David Egerton should devote two pages out of 712 to Northern Ireland?

Was that because in the words of Theresa May Northern Ireland is unique?

In another morning paper in 1971 the following sentence appeared:-

“If equal citizenship and equal opportunity for Catholic and Protestant are to become a reality, Northern Ireland loses the reason for its existence.” Because of the ‘unique circumstances’ in Northern Ireland Mrs May should retain a soft border between the Republic  by keeping NI in the EU as the only part of the UK to do so under the sovereignty of Westminster.

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin


Brexit is an opportunity to move on from the past

A majority in the north voted to stay in Europe. That vote must be respected by all ‘right thinking democrats’.
One way is to switch sovereignty from London to Dublin, to leave the north as it is, keep the assembly in Stormont and allow the English monarch some role as the one to whom a section of the people at present profess to owe their allegiance.
It may seem like too much of a compromise for nationalists/republicans but I believe there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The new Ireland I envisage is a state where the unionists feel comfortable, where equality is paramount and where the human and civil rights of all citizens are protected in law.

Brexit has presented us in Ireland with the opportunity to move on from the past and into a new future where we work together for the common good of all the people on this small island. I believe it is worth a try and I would urge the Dublin and London governments to do all in their power to encourage all the parties to pursue this way forward.

Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh


Jarlath’s in good company

Amidst the turmoil of daily disturbing reports of human tragedy we find weekly solace and are reminded of what could be through the writings of Jarlath Kearney.

In his article (September 5) under ‘Heaney’s words…’ he writes: “For we live in a world today where wise voices of gentle reason, ethical love and courageous witness are too often being silenced and sidelined.” Jarlath reminds us of what we are neglected of. On learning of the death of Martin Luther King in 1968 Robert Kennedy said: “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago. To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” 

Jarlath Kearney is in good company.

Belfast BT11


Violation of human rights

Since when does attendance at a meeting with representatives of a democratically elected government, namely Hamas – ‘Sinn Féin MP has questions to answer’ (September 4) –  equate with the daily violation of human rights focused on Palestinians by Israel and its ally the US? Clearly Israel, and Jews in general, can bear no criticism whatsoever as those who criticise are instantly labelled anti-Semites. The current mono ethnic Jewish state is akin to apartheid as it affords special rights for Jews and views non-Jews as of inferior status, mirroring the race classification of apartheid. 

Hillsborough, Co Down

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