Letters to the Editor

Plenty of reasons to support EU – faith doesn't feature

PATRICK Murphy (Irish News March 13 2021) asserts that people’s support for the EU is based on faith and not reason. I worked in the public sector in the 1980s when Thatcher was privatising services. If it hadn’t been for the EU’s Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (Tupe) regulations, the terms and conditions of the workers involved would have been greatly diminished. This is one example why my support for the EU is based on reason alone. Perhaps Mr Murphy should read Britannia Unchained, a book published in 2012 by ardent Thatcherite Tory MPs, including Kwarteng, Patel, Raab and Truss, who are now in Johnson’s cabinet. This argues that Britain should adopt a far-reaching form of free-market economics, with fewer employment laws. For these MPs Brexit is seen as a way of achieving their aims.

Mr Murphy suggests that the Irish government should enter into bi-lateral talks with the UK. Does he not understand that Ireland is a member of the EU and all negotiations have to be carried out on that basis? He also states that Irish nationalists were calling for a second referendum but forgets that millions of people in Britain were also arguing for the chance to vote on the final Brexit deal. Given what has happened in relation to the protocol, maybe even the DUP would have now welcomed this. When it was produced, the Withdrawal Agreement was enthusiastically welcomed by numerous Brexiteers, including Lord Trimble. As the Romans used to say, ‘caveat emptor’.

In his column Mr Murphy referred to Ireland being a net contributor to the EU. For many years Ireland was in receipt of contributions, which helped to make it a stronger economy. Should it not now be contributing to help other poorer countries? Is this not the basis of socialism, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’?  Reference was also made to the EU’s vaccine roll out. Drug companies have failed to deliver on their EU contracts, particularly AstraZeneca whose contract is practically identical to that signed with the UK. It’s been reported that nine million doses of vaccine have been exported from the EU to the UK. I’d be interested to know how many have been exported in the opposite direction. Please allow me to recommend RTÉ’s Brexit Republic podcast, published every Friday, which provides great insight into all things Brexit.                 

Danny Boyd



Sinn Féin’s snub to Boris a missed chance to behave like mature politicians

RECENTLY Sinn Féin snubbed Boris Johnson when offered the chance to meet him, without even having to travel to London. That sounds like a good idea, not. As usual SF placed another imaginary chip on their shoulder. That this latest complaint of a long-standing request to speak with Johnson, followed by a refusal when it was offered, somehow became Johnson’s fault, takes mental gymnastics of a high order. SF’s playground politicking will always play well with the uncritical party faithful but really who are they kidding? It is not hard to guess either Johnson’s or a unionist response, a sigh of relief: “Great, SF can be relied upon to do nothing and leave the field to us.” One really wonders what Republican principle, sub clause and paragraph covers this one?

SF chose not to meet Johnson, to look him in the eye and engage with him seriously. They could have made measured and sensible suggestions to help the DUP, and to an extent Johnson, back from a cliff edge. Such a mature and generous move, which would have benefited us all, was missed. Genuinely committed politicians would do so, but that would need an open mind, an ability to see the other side of an argument, along with a preparedness to work towards a resolution. It seems that SF’s leadership is incapable of such an approach or, worse still, just does not want a resolution.

Sadly, reflecting on the past 100 years in the north, it is hard to think of many positive steps SF have ever made for northern nationalism, much less the entire community. Increasingly it is hard to avoid the conclusion that SF, like the DUP are both wedded to blinkered, zero-sum attitudes, that may sound well from the outside, in opposition, but which are useless in government. One wonders 23 years after the GFA, when, or indeed whether, mature politics will ever emerge from SF ranks?

Frank Hennessey


TUV leader has an opportunity to expose the truth

THE Northern Ireland Protocol and its laboriously designed custom arrangements including a border in the Irish Sea has witnessed many unionist representatives and in particular the DUP descend into complete disarray as they attempt to deflect and seek absolution, from all quarters, absolving themselves from their role in proceedings. Among the many voices of opposition is the TUV leader who attests ‘all unionists want rid of the protocol’, claiming further it ‘constitutionally breaches the Good Friday Agreement and its principle of consent’. However, documented facts suggest otherwise.

Boris, in 2019, proposed an amendment to the protocol negotiated by Theresa May’s government that included a regulatory border in the Irish Sea, border inspection posts, to be constructed by the UK, and manufactured goods and agri produce be subject to EU rules. This ensured there would be ‘no land border with Ireland but created a sea border with the UK’ – all of the UK – effectively turning Northern Ireland, in the honeyed tones of Boris, into “an economic colony of the EU”.

The amendment was endorsed by the DUP hierarchy – who were lording over everyone at Westminster as king makers – including the party leader who declared ‘a serious and sensible way forward’. This galvanised Boris who immediately sojourned to the EU averring he had the ‘consent of the unionists’ in his back pocket.

This shows the unequivocal and unmistakable support the DUP MPs at Westminster gave to Boris’s plan without the consent of the broader public of the north. It is therefore incumbent on the leader of the TUV, who so eloquently exposes the inanities at Stormont, to cease his claims of ubiquitous consent – the majority in the north voted against Brexit – and expose the reality of the situation. 

Kevin McCann
Belfast 1


English may want a rethink

IN relation to news that the UK government has commissioned a feasibility study of a fixed transport link between NI and Scotland, I presume that the cost-benefit analysis for such a scheme will incorporate the possibility that NI will not remain within the UK.

From the perspective of the English taxpayer, that consideration alone should be sufficient to terminate the proposal.      

Michael Magill
Belfast BT10



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