Letters to the Editor

Democracy and capitalism seem incompatible in their present forms

The UK was taken into the Common/Single Market, European Economic Community (EEC), without a democratic choice being offered to the UK population. A couple of years later a referendum was held and the UK population chose democratically to remain in the Common Market.

Over time, the EEC morphed into the European Union (EU), a political union. The UK population was offered no democratic choice in this change. Nor presumably were the populations of the other countries of the EEC.

The recent Brexit referendum restored a semblance of democracy to the UK population, for better or for worse depending on one’s viewpoint and interests.
However, the only options on offer, ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’, made no differentiation between the economic union and the political union.

Did we choose to leave or remain in the economic union which we had previously democratically chosen to remain in, or to leave or remain in the political union which we had not chosen to join, or did we by default and lack of differentiation choose to leave or remain in both? The resultant confusion, dissatisfaction, demands for a referendum on the result of exit negotiations, and clamour to retain the economic benefits of the Common Market/Customs Union while we reject the political element of the EU, is an indictment of the incompetence or deviousness of our politicians.

Arguably then, the UK is entitled to choose to leave the undemocratic European political union while remaining in the previously democratically chosen Economic Community/Common Market/Customs Union, or vice versa, if that in fact is what the UK population chose, one person’s ‘Leave’ vote having the same intent as another person’s ‘Remain’ vote.

It would require another pre-exit and pre-negotiation referendum to ascertain the true intent of the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ votes cast in the Brexit referendum. The choices offered in a new referendum must differentiate between the economic union and the political union.

If the (marginal) majority ‘Brexit’ vote is deemed to be democratic, final and indicative that the UK should leave the EU in its entirety, politically and economically, any present or future attempt to retain or regain the benefits of Common Market membership would be an undemocratic perversion of the democratically expressed wishes of the UK population as a whole*. If ‘Brexit means Brexit’ why is Theresa May negotiating deals with the EU?

*(but not of the populations of Scotland and Northern Ireland where the majorities voted to ‘Remain’).

What was the intent of the referendum, and what were the intentions of the voters?

We need a clear definition of democracy and a more accountable non-factional non-party form of government whose sole function is the furtherance and maintenance of the Common Good of the whole population.

Democracy and capitalism seem incompatible in their present forms.

DENNIS GOLDEN
Strabane, Co Tyrone

 

Troubles not to blame for breakdown of civil society 

TREVOR Ringland’s constructive letter – ‘We need to show maturity as we work through the legacy issues’ (November 1) – emphasises several points some with more force than others. However he opines of the Ballymurphy massacre that British soldiers were thrown in ‘at the deep end’.  Soldiers are/were not policemen and they shot and killed innocent people. That premise gives me the shudders when I reflect on soldiers on ‘peacekeeping’ exercises.

Back then his father was of the view that the six counties was on the verge of civil war. Again the breakdown of civil society cannot be blamed on the late 1960s onwards.

Mr Ringland is worried that nationalist opinions saw some level of justification in the IRA campaign. This point intrigues me. Whatever could moderate nationalists be thinking about seeing some justification? Maybe the gradual realisation that the unionists saw the reforms introduced as a slippery slope which had to be resisted at every pass.

The republican who signed up to the GFA all those years ago, in my view, recognised that in the six counties there was an Irish/British, British/Irish dichotomy. It made many very risky overtures to unionism yet has been rebuffed, blatantly.  That hand is still extended – all that has been sought is parity of esteem.

If unionists continue to recoil from such sentiments one can only conclude a) that they have a better idea or b) there is a level of insecurity permeating unionist thinking. My own take is that it is the latter.  It is said that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. 

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

 

Showing how to build relationships the right way

Many congratulations  to Rory Best for not only captaining Ireland to victory against the All Blacks but also on his recent award of the OBE. Further congratulations and indeed thanks are due to him and his fellow Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll for lending their credibility and profile to the recent BT Sport documentary Shoulder to Shoulder (which will be shown more broadly). This highlighted the way rugby over the years has brought people on this island together during periods when so many other forces were pulling them apart. At all times respecting and never threatening each others nationality, religion or identity. With relations across this island strained by many issues at present it is worth celebrating how the Irish rugby team and also recently the women’s hockey team made us all so proud. Bringing people together from all parts of the island, celebrating their diversity , achieving great things while respecting different identities  and traditions. Showing how to do relationships the right way, and not the wrong way. 
Of course sport is much easier than many other situations. However, that is not to diminish what it shows us in terms of what can be achieved by greater understanding, generosity of spirit and genuine mutual respect.

HUGO MacNEILL
Killiney, Co Dublin

 

DUP has stooped to a new low

The sooner the DUP is voted out of office by the unionist people the better.
Sammy Wilson is now directing his arrogance at the Ulster Farmers’ Union and other business representatives just because they don’t agree with the spoilt children of the DUP. Does Sammy and his band of mini dictators want a state run on what the DUP says is right or wrong?
He claims that they are public representatives yet do not represent the views of the majority of the people regarding the referendum on Brexit.
Clearly the DUP exists with a thinking that if they disagree with anything then it’s wrong.
Now they and especially Sammy Wilson has stooped to a new low with his statements and false accusations against the business and farming representatives. Sammy you are no longer a school teacher and we the people are not your pupils. Represent what the people of Northern Ireland want.

RAYMOND McCORD
Belfast

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