Letters to the Editor

Unionists must face up to the not so new reality of unity

The border question has been front and centre of many discussions in political and civil circles over the past couple of years, with some nationalist leaders calling for a referendum on Irish unity 

IT is with no great joy that I say that unionists in the north of Ireland must face up to the reality of their situation and begin to honestly plan for their future on this island.
The threats of the possibility of violence from non-elected, self-appointed loyalist leaders would drag us all back to the bad days and must be resisted by the unionist community.

Successive British governments have made it clear that the position of NI in the UK is of no significant importance to them. 

In fact, they have clearly shown that they are prepared to use the north as a bargaining chip in negotiations with others. 

Let’s go back to 1985 and the great pro union PM, Margaret Thatcher. Despite all her public statements of support for the north’s position as an integral part of the UK she signed the Anglo Irish Agreement that stated that Britain would enable reunification to take place if a majority of the people in the north wanted this to happen. Thatcher quickly moved from the unionists’ best ally to a traitor of unionism. 

Only five years later the then British secretary of state stated that Britain had no selfish, strategic nor economic interest in the north. There could be no clearer explanation of the British government’s lack of genuine interest in keeping the north a part of the UK. 

There then followed the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which encouraged even closer political relations with the Republic of Ireland and created a North/South Ministerial Council to enable this to happen. It also created actual conditions for a referendum on Irish unity to take place once the time was right. Once again unionism decided to ignore the elephant in the room.

So, the telling of untruths by the sitting English nationalist PM, the leading of unionist leaders up the garden path by the same character, and the placement of an economic border between the north and the rest of the UK should have come as no surprise. 

There is no longer any justification for unionism to ignore the facts before their eyes. 

It is not surprising that nationalist leaders are now preparing for the reunification of this island. Unionism needs to buy into this process and ensure that their beliefs and culture are protected and encouraged in any new political arrangement on this island.

Sean Seeley


Message of the Cross will bear fruit and should suffice for us


DR Philip McGarry OBE FRCPsych (Letters, March 22) is impressed with the St Patrick’s Day statement by the four main Church leaders: “We have often been captive churches; captive not to the Word of God, but to the idols of state and nation.” Christianity thrives because it works in practice once properly tested, a bit like blackcurrant slips planted in the average Irish garden.
Blackcurrant roots, buds, grows and fruits, with relative ease.
It is not fussy about soil condition nor weather, and loves the rain and damp. People confidently share slips from the humble plant around, knowing it will even start growing in a bucket of water. Perhaps real spiritual revival will come in our Churches through the actions of ordinary believers, who have confidence to share their faith widely, secure in the knowledge that it will always bear fruit. Philip is surely right to affirm a simpler expression faith, with the idols of state and nation stripped away.
National and denominational idols can easily distract inquirers from the secure central truths of faith.
The message of sin, the Cross and the resurrection suffices.

James Hardy



Those of us granted life have no right to deny it to others


FIONNUALA O Connor’s response to opponents of abortion: “You do not have to have an abortion,” (Opinion, March 23) is glib to say the least.

To present the pro-life cause as a matter of preference rather than deep principle is to misunderstand it. Forty years ago it would not have been generally regarded as reasonable to respond to a critic of apartheid by saying: “You do not have to go to South Africa.”

Supporters of the pro-life cause are on the side of all unborn children. 

Having been granted the right to life myself I cannot in conscience deny it to anyone else.


CDC Armstrong


Government politicians have lost touch with core base

IT'S increasingly strange to me that more and more politicians from the south of Ireland from an anti-partitionist party are apologists for it. Now that is ironic.
They talk about divisions in society and recognising divisions in society or ignoring divisions in society. This is all rubbish. All societies are divided between haves and have nots on one level or another. It is the job of political parties to represent their core base interests against the other. The only time you get governments of unity is in times of crisis. Perhaps the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael merger in the south can be spun as a government of unity but that is not the case. It is a government of expediency that has lost touch with its core base, certainly in the case of Fianna Fáil. 

Anthony Geoghegan
Co Armagh


Right of self-determination can not be vetoed

AN OXYMORON is defined as a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear together.

According to Newton Emerson (March 13) the Good Friday Agreement states: “It is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination.”

The bit he left out states: “that this right of self-determination must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

But the right of self-determination cannot be made subject to any kind of veto.

Malachy Scott



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