Letters to the Editor

20 years later and inevitable failure of GFA has come to pass

With the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) certain questions have to be asked. What have Republicans gained from the unjustifiable compromise? Are we any closer to Éire Nua? What was the rationale for resurrecting an immoral failure from 1973-74 in 1998? Twenty years later and the inevitable failure has come to pass. In the two decades since it has not looked likely, nor does it look likely at the present, that the human rights bill in the GFA will ever be implemented. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not have a human rights bill, it does, by the way, the condemnation would be deafening especially if two decades had passed since it was meant to implement such a bill. Why isn’t the illegitimate six-county state and the GFA being subjected to a chorus of howls of condemnation? 

Sinn Féin has made concession after concession without reciprocation from unionists. What was Sinn Féin able to do, within the confines of the GFA, about 4,597 stop and search of republicans in Ardoyne and Oldpark alone between January 2009 and January 2015? This shows that nature of British state policing in the six counties hasn’t changed in over two decades. Given the political and military occupation structures this is unlikely to change in the future. An indictment of Sinn Fein’s, and by extension the GFA’s, failure is that the top-five of the most economically deprived areas in the six counties are nationalist as are nine of the top 10 and 17 of the top 20. For this unforgivable sell-out, Sinn Féin could not even get the implementation of a Gaelic language statute agreed and promised at St Andrew’s in 2006.  
Has Gaelic culture flourished since the GFA? Has it flourished in the absence of statutory protection? More people died in Ireland, in a shorter period of time, after the GFA than the entirety of all those who died in the Troubles.
What was the point in ending violence if more of our people were going to die in any case? Ending violence is not an end in itself especially considering a situation resulting in more premature and unnatural deaths. A University of Liverpool study by Professor Jonathan Tonge showed that economic and social conditions in the six-counties were worse in 2009 than they were in 1969. Where is parity of esteem when Remembrance Poppies are ‘commemorative symbols’ yet Easter Lilies are ‘conflict emblems’?  
Have community relations improved? Why are there more segregation barriers now than during 1998? Neither Sinn Féin nor the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have apologised for the damage done to working-class Irish people by their promotion of the Good Friday Agreement. 
Right did not become wrong and wrong did not become right on the 10th of April 1998.

Belfast BT11


Sadly no-one to promote case for least divergence with EU

The leading backbench champion of a hard Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, keeps repeating the claim that anything else would leave Britain a vassal state, with all the indignities involved in being on a lower rung of the feudal ladder. Did he ever stop to count up and reflect on the number of vassal states contained in the British Empire in its heyday?

He gives the game away, when he argues it would be as logical that the Republic ‘comes out of the single market and the customs union and accepts our regulations’ (March 16), to avoid a hard border, than that Northern Ireland as a backstop arrangement remains aligned with both. As an EU member state, Ireland, like the UK, has played a full part since 1973 in the EU legislative process. Indeed, the Single Market Brexit supporters are determined to leave is counted as one of Mrs  Thatcher’s major achievements. The alternative Rees-Mogg proposes is Ireland’s acceptance of UK regulations, in which for the most part it has had no say whatever. To use his terminology, for Ireland that would be to revert after 100 years of independence to becoming a vassal state once again. Perhaps we should be grateful that he has spelt out so clearly what Irexit would involve.

The difference between the union and the European Union is that in the EU all its constituent members, whether large or small, have to agree before major decisions are made. In the UK, where the devolved regions have no co-equal say, the Brexit decision was effectively made in England, which has 85 per cent of the population. Sadly, there is no executive and no Northern Ireland party at Westminster willing to use their influence to promote the least possible divergence with the EU including the status quo of free movement on the border that the people of Northern Ireland voted for.

Tipperary, Co. Tipperary


Deeply held views on EU breakup

I don’t normally respond to critics believing that it is their right to be critical. However, Micheál O hEára (March 23) is so offensive and so off the mark that I need to defend my integrity.

I am not a ‘so-called nationalist politician’ but someone who is fiercely proud of my contribution to Irish politics covering more than 40 years, many of them in times when few others were prepared to speak out. I know what it is like to live under threat from paramilitaries and I thank God that I have survived.

My analysis of the issues I have spoken about in The Irish News are not a lazy analysis but my deeply held views based on the fears experienced by democrats in Georgia and Armenia who worry that the EU is seriously weakened by Brexit.

By holding these views I do not ‘swallow hook, line and sinker’ everything I am told about the European Union but on this occasion I believe that any breakup of the EU presents opportunities for those opposed to freedom to reassert themselves and unfortunately Putin is, without doubt, in that realm.

SDLP, East Derry


Sinn Féin’s policy failures

Woody Allen famously said 80 per cent of success in life is showing up, plus of course hard work and commitment. We all know that Sinn Féin doesn’t show up very often but they do claim to be doing a lot of work. A number of obvious questions arise but are neither asked  much less answered such as: exactly what work? To what end? and of course how effectively?  

After the executive collapse Sinn Féin produced a list of their policy failures all of which they blamed on the DUP. The voters accepted that line in 2017 but this time it looks a bit tricky. Sinn Féin’s latest non-achievement, its non-submission to the Boundary Commission, is only the latest in a long line of examples where it is hard to find evidence of their “work”. 

Speaking of boundaries a few years back, Sinn Féin agreed a curious council stitch-up with the DUP, so that Stormont ended up in Lisburn. Clearly stitch-ups are OK, when they are in the room and when it suits. I am sure that fine American, governor Gerry would struggle to defend the logic and shape of Lisburn & Castlereagh Council.

John Hume often quoted his father’s remark that one couldn’t eat a flag. One might equally note that Irish street signs and attempts at rewriting history hardly qualifies either as being top priorities for many, especially for a political party supposedly looking after the interests of those it claims to represent never mind the rest of us. One does wonder who will be laughing about our proposed new constituencies and who will laugh last? 

Sadly I think we all know the answer to that one.

Belfast BT9

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Letters to the Editor