Brexit represents a breach of the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP sought to persuade listeners to Morning Ireland (June 14) that Irish insistence on the backstop was contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of consent. Both arguments stand on weak ground.
The joint membership of the UK and Ireland in the EU into the future was a given at the time of the Good Friday Agreement, as reflected in the text. Indeed, it was taken as a given in 2004, when the Church of Ireland, which has a substantial following in the unionist population right up to leadership level, included in its revised Book of Common Prayer, amongst prayers for the State in the Litany in contemporary language: ‘Bless the European Union, and draw us closer to one another in justice and freedom’ (p.177). The EU did in tandem with the Good Friday Agreement help bring people closer together across these islands, and removed for the first time since partition physical borders. The strongest reason for the backstop is to protect the integrity of that achievement. It was agreed to initially even by Boris Johnson, leading Tory leadership candidate, presumably on the age-old basis back to the time of King William and the Treaty of Limerick, that the Irish could be fobbed off with promises that did not have to be kept, if it helped Britain get over a temporary difficulty.
Brexit represents a breach of the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement, whatever about the letter. The DUP in insisting on a hard Brexit and no backstop have not only helped bring down a British prime minister, no doubt in the name of ultra-loyalty. They have done so without majority consent in Northern Ireland, still less cross-community consent. The recent European Parliament election result was welcome confirmation that the 2016 referendum position of people in Northern Ireland had not changed.
The DUP are, however, acting in the spirit of the Act of Union of 1800, the chief purpose of which was to ensure that a majority in Ireland (and now Northern Ireland) could always be overruled as required by the British parliament. Under the Good Friday Agreement, a united Ireland can only come about with the consent of a majority in each part of Ireland. Unionist parties, however, are quite happy for the UK to take the major constitutional step of removing Britain from the EU on hard terms or none at all, without the consent of its constituent parts in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. Whatever the wisdom of this with regard to the future of the union, there should be no doubt whatever about the Irish government’s continued determination to protect Ireland’s unimpeded access to the European Single Market, so essential to Irish prosperity, and not to be fobbed off by meaningless promises of technological solutions. It will do so in the knowledge that a majority in Northern Ireland want no disruption to existing border arrangements.
GAA has lost any moral ground to talk about child welfare
Guess what dropped into my club email account recently – an invite circulated by the GAA to every county secretary, to be circulated to every club secretary in the country, to join the Pride Parade in Dublin on June 29. And, to make it more interesting, it comes from the child welfare and safeguarding manager of the GAA.
It states: “The attached letter is for general circulation and seeks to draw attention not just to our participation but to indicate and publicise that we invite our members and their families to join together and walk under the GAA banner at the parade.”
I have no problem with this invite per se. My problem is that last year, when the abortion issue was raging through the country, the same GAA did not send out a similar invite. They sat on their hands.
In fact, they said that they wouldn’t be taking any side on the issue. If the GAA is sincere about child welfare why don’t they step up to the mark for all our children at all stages of their development? Their talk is only hot air and an insult to the preciousness, privilege and sacredness of human life. They have lost any moral ground to talk about the welfare of any child.
Randalstown, Co Antrim
Flaunting of power
I’m writing with regards a recent story about the OAP in Randalstown who received the threatening letter from Antrim and Newtonabbey Council about an Irish language road sign on her fence. I live in Antrim and have noticed that they have not been as fussy about the erecting of large banners in Antrim or several towns around Antrim which are in support of Soldier F in an ongoing court case. I for one find these signs disgusting and seem to glorify the murder and attempted murder of Irish citizens. Also in the town of Antrim the council has also spent a considerable sum of money on an ‘Ulster Scotch Quarter’ which I feel in a mixed town is a blatant disregard of nationalist rights at a time where the Irish language is being openly discussed in the media. To me it appears that the council has one rule for one side and enjoys flaunting their position of power in certain cases.
Study the two versions of the Hamas Charter
Jim McCormick – ‘Be kind to your neighbours’ (June 5) – pleaded for us Israeli Jews to be kind to Palestinians.
We are. Who do you think send in trucks of supplies daily into Gaza? Not Egypt.
Who do you think extends medical assistance for Gazans in need? Israel.
Who do you think has been brutally rebuffed when attempting to offer a better future to the residents of Hamas-controlled Gaza? Israel.
And who were the rejectionists? Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
I advise Mr McCormick to study the two versions of the Hamas Charter. He will understand its clearly stated aim – to destroy Israel and to kill the Jews.
As for the Palestinian casualties he mentioned, in 2018 a record number of Hamas rockets were aimed at Israeli civilian centres.
I ask Mr McCormick not to hate us but instead study the complexity of the conflict, who initiates the violence, and why they are doing it.
It has nothing to do with having a nation of their own and living in peace alongside Israel.