Letters to the Editor

Political leaders have every right to be concerned about border

Remarks attributed to Harold Wilson when he was British prime minister in 1963 ‘A week is a long time in politics’ could never be truer today as we listen to one idiot after another competing for air space to have their earth-shattering views on Brexit heard.

It would be impossible to decide who is best at making a clown of themselves but certainly David Campbell Bannerman, Tory MEP and former UKIP mouthpiece deserves a nomination for his liking for unionists and how in 1913 they were involved in gun-running with the UVF. 

Of course he justified this gaffe by claiming the UVF of 1913 were not the same chappies as today’s crop of gangsters but surely it was then as it is now a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

The DUP has attacked the taoiseach Leo Varadkar for daring to show European leaders a copy of an Irish newspaper which reported the kind of violence focussed on the border in the past and the dreadful loss of life.

Good people, men and women, in and out of uniform lost their lives on the border in the past and while none of it can be justified it did happen and there are people who would welcome the opportunity to do it again. 

That is life and any political leader has a responsibility to express their fears about it and do everything to ensure that it can’t happen again, not ever and the best way to do that is to deny the warmongers the opportunity – no hard border.

At funerals of police officers who lost their lives during the Troubles  some unionists were often noted by their absence rather than their attendance and a part-time RUC officer explained to me that police officers were seen by unionists as mercenaries, earning good money and therefore had to take the risks involved. It was as simple as that.

Those days are, hopefully over and life is seen as more precious and not expendable for narrow political advantage by one side or the other. For that reason alone, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have every right to be concerned about a border in the future and the consequences that could have for those who are tasked with defending it. 

While the DUP have been highly offensive in their language towards Ireland’s political leaders their contempt for what might have been assumed as ‘their British masters’ goes even further and some time, perhaps sooner than later, will have to be challenged by whoever is prime minister. The tail is wagging the dog again just as in 1913 and it would be a pity if history was to repeat itself yet again and allow the tail to continue wagging the dog.

JOHN DALLAT MLA 
East Derry

 

Why has EU not done more to entice UK to remain in Union?

One of the interesting aspects of Brexit is that this is the first time a member state has attempted to leave the European Union (EU), and the rules for doing so are at best scanty.

To a certain extent the entire process is being made up as we go along.

And after Theresa May triggered Article 50, Westminster has no input into the running of the EU and cannot block any amendments to existing regulations or prevent new legislation being enacted.

This arguably provides the EU with a number of interesting options.

Firstly, should the EU decide to skew the regulatory and legislative topography in their favour then the UK is not in a position to block them from doing so.

For example, given that the EU has previously placed considerable emphasis upon being a union of the regions with a dedicated Committee of the Regions, the EU could require that where a member state had devolved significant constitutional powers then any withdrawal treaty had to be agreed by all legislatures or they could vote to opt out.

In effect it is really for the EU to interpret legislation surrounding Article 50 and the withdrawal treaty, and if a departing member state wishes to challenge that interpretation they both have recourse to the European courts to resolve their differences.

Because the withdrawal treaty has not as yet been signed off or agreed the EU can, should it choose to do so, amend legislation pertaining to it – or even rescind it altogether – and it appears Westminster is not able to block them from doing so.

Secondly, businesses will be familiar with corporate tactics such as enacting a poison pill defence and other similar tactics to disadvantage their opponents.

For example, the EU could heavily skew its internal market to favour the financial sector of member states, and disadvantage financial firms operating from non-EU states.

This could effectively remove all or most of the advantages the city thinks it gets from leaving the EU and cause Westminster to think again about leaving the EU.

Arguably, there are a raft of measures that could be introduced by the EU to make leaving the single market and Customs Union unpalatable to the UK. 

In fact, one has to wonder why the EU has not done more to entice the UK to remain in the Union given the range of options open to it?

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND
Belfast BT9

 

Provocative emblems

The practice by BBC Northern Ireland of insisting that their front of camera television broadcasters and presenters wear the poppy while at work smacks of bullying and must surely tarnish the image of impartiality which the BBC likes to project of itself.
It is my understanding that following the signing of the Belfast Agreement a new code of ethics was agreed which included the banning of political emblems and flags in the workplace. Without question, the wearing of the poppy has overtly political overtones and has the potential to offend as monies raised by the selling of the poppy is used to provide support for British ex-servicemen, some of whom would have served in the north during the Troubles, including those soldiers who were involved in Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 and in the Ballymurphy Massacre in Belfast in 1971.

Following the introduction of the McBride Principles in 1989, which included the banning of provocative political emblems at places of work, all public bodies in Northern Ireland, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, voluntarily agreed to implement a “neutral workplace” in attempts to end sectarianism which was endemic in
the north.
Curiously, the BBC World Service bans their presenters from wearing the poppy in the workplace in case it might cause offence to people overseas. They should extend that policy to the north.

TOM COOPER
Cathaoirleach Irish National Congress
Dublin 2

 

Politicising the conflict

BRIAN Rooney begins his letter (October 9)  with some statistics of those who lost their lives in the recent conflict. He could have added in numbers who were maimed physically and mentally in this conflict.  It is good to recall the carnage that war brings. It might cause those that see violence as the only means of problem resolution to think again.

Then Mr Rooney, in my view, goes on the attack against the Republican movement. And this is where the apparently ‘human’ Mr Rooney becomes the ‘political’ Mr Rooney.  And I go further he demeans the tragedy of this conflict by politicising it – and not too subtly either.

See, by interpreting the past as an ‘it was their fault’ premise is a sure fire way of hitting a political brick wall.  We reach a situation where we match atrocity for atrocity  and of course the atrocity committed against me and mine is worse than atrocity committed against you and yours – the road to nowhere.

Now Mr Rooney posts the question is “murder ever justified by political context”?  If Mr Rooney is an out and out pacifist I can see how that question is valid. However given the tone and slant of his letter I really, think he’s adopting a high moral tone that has nothing to do with pacifism.  

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

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