Brexit serves aspirations and aims of neither UK unionists nor Irish nationalists
While Brexit negotiations have focussed on, and foundered on, the Irish border problem and the location of wet or dry trade borders between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain (GB), NI has been blind to a more critical scenario.
If the UK leaves the EU in a manner detrimental to Scotland, the Scottish people will almost certainly seek political independence from the rest of the UK (In any event they will do so at some future date whether in or out of the EU). Wales might follow suit. The institution of the United Crowns (Scotland’s and England’s) Monarchy might survive, but the UK would cease to exist politically.
As the only region with an existential, self-identifying need to be an appended part of a politically united kingdom, albeit dominated by an introverted England that cares little for the other constituent parts of the Union, NI would be left in a state of limbo.
An independent Scotland would not want a one-to-one union with sectarian blighted NI. Scotland has enough of that problem of its own. England (Perfidious Albion) would quickly jettison troublesome and costly NI. NI might reluctantly or desperately seek union with the Irish Republic but the RoI would be unwilling or unable to accept such a proposal from a non-member of the EU – and NI’s economy would not meet the criteria for EU membership.
There would be no United Kingdom, no united Ireland, no EU membership and no subsidising support for a disconnected Northern Ireland. Brexit serves the aspirations and aims of neither UK unionists nor Irish nationalists. This situation might be just what is needed to bring people and political parties in NI together with a common purpose – survival.
That scenario, attractive or otherwise, might be averted, for better or for worse, by both the DUP and Sinn Féin reversing their currently undemocratic policies and voting in the Westminster parliament against Brexit in any form, with or without a “deal” that would not satisfy everyone. Currently, neither party is representing, at Westminster, the democratically expressed wish of the people of NI to remain in the EU. Having DUPed the DUP into accepting a trade border in the Irish Sea, the Tory government has given the DUP the face-saving opportunity and excuse to return the disfavour.
Together, the DUP and Sinn Féin could stop Brexit dead in its tracks. Thereafter, the only feasible and logical game plan and forum for the future well being of the people of these island is to be found in the Good Friday Agreement, where it was all along but was ignored.
Will Brexit-on-the Brink be the catalyst that brings Sinn Féin and the DUP together with a common purpose? The future for the people of NI and of these islands lies in their hands. Will they, and we and future generations, enjoy or suffer the consequences of their choice?
Strabane, Co Tyrone
Mission of eradicating world’s slave trade is far from complete
The year 2007 marked the bi-centenary of the introduction of the slave trade abolition act, and it is encouraging to note that October 19 marks anti-slavery day. This alerts us to the fact that modern day slavery is happening in many towns and cities across the UK and in many other parts of the world. Britain led the world in outlawing the slave trade and slavery and we owe much to the valiant and unceasing efforts of William Wilberforce MP, and Evangelical Protestant, who despite ill-health and much abuse, campaigned continually throughout his life against this brutal trade.
Ireland too was largely opposed to slavery and among the many opponents was Mary Ann McCracken who devoted her life to helping the poor and working-class people, especially agricultural workers and those employed in Belfast laundries who endured appalling working conditions, non-existent health and safety and disgustingly low wages. Even at 88 she regularly distributed anti-slavery literature, often targeting emigrants and sailors departing for America.
But this mission is far from complete – it is estimated that millions of people across the world, mainly women and children, suffer in some sort of slavery. They are mostly from poverty stricken countries and have become victims of human traffickers who lure their victims with promises of better lives in western countries. In fact they find themselves as slaves engaged in drug trafficking, vice and other illegal and brutal practices. As we remember Wilberforce and all worthy defenders of human freedom, and the sacrifices made in the American Civil War, let us as a modern civilised society strive to end this evil once and for all and strive to bring the perpetrators to justice.
BRO JAMES McILHATTON
Ballymena, Co Antrim
How could anyone not vote for Paul?
My friend asked me who I would support in the upcoming general election. I told her that I would be voting for the current MP for my constituency, Paul Maskey. She asked me why, which I thought was a no brainer. Apart from the fact that he is the most gifted orator, I told her, since he has taken up the seat in 2011, he has accomplished so much. He has attracted magnificent inward investment to the constituency that has resulted in thousands of jobs being created, has lifted thousands of children out of child poverty, has dramatically increased the level of public expenditure on mental health and in collaboration with the PSNI has almost eradicated the drug problem in the constituency, with heroin and cocaine use almost non-existent. Local crime rate figures, for assaults, burglary, and sexual offences have been almost totally eliminated.
How could anyone think of voting for someone else? You are our hero Paul.
John Hume is unsung hero
Trevor Ringland’s letter (October 31) was about the unsung heroes of the Troubles. He wrote: “There were also political leaders who showed a different way.”
He named some of those politicians but left out one leader who worked all his life in the search for peace – namely John Hume.
His name should have been at the top of his list.
Newry, Co Down
Think hard before voting
SINN Féin and the SDLP have rejected the Catholic faith teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Catholic people need to think hard before voting for these people.
Collegeland, Co Armagh