Letters to the Editor

Loyalists mistaken in belief that Good Friday Agreement borne of violence

Loyalist youths clash with police in the North Queen Street/Tigers Bay area of north Belfast. Generations of young people in Northern Ireland have attempted to use violence to achieve their demands 

MANY political analysts, newspaper columnists and unionist political leaders are suggesting that loyalists mistakenly believe that the Good Friday Agreement was borne out of the use of violence, something that could not be further from the truth, but it has left the false impression that by violence others’ aims could also be achieved.

Can anyone really believe that the late John Hume could ever have celebrated such an achievement if won by violence, or David Trimble recommending an achievement if these claims bore any truth?

The same people seem to be suggesting that recent loyalist violence can be put down to this mistruth, and the loyalist rioters believe this absurd allegation to be true and feel they should use the same violent methods to achieve their aims. This is a dangerous fallacy that must be rigorously denied and the truth around the GFA made known.

Far from being borne out of violence, the GFA was the result of the end of violence and a peace eventually agreed by all sides in the conflict. When the GFA was signed the PIRA had declared a permanent ceasefire and was engaged in talks to permanently put all its weapons beyond use.

As both the British and the IRA admitted that neither could defeat the other, it was clearly time to look for some other method to move forward.
It was agreed that the only way this was going to be achieved was through purely peaceful and democratic means.
Thus the GFA was born and, in separate referenda north and south, it was accepted by the majority of the populations in both states. It was not perfect but it did cement the belief that peaceful progress was the only way forward.

This makes the latest return to violence by some loyalists all the more confusing. 

In the past violent campaigns by loyalists, eg opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Drumcree and the flag protests, all failed. The British and Irish governments have shown that they will not succumb to violent protest and loyalism must accept this and devise a peaceful way forward.

Political unionist leaders have so far failed to show any responsible leadership on the ground and their public utterances have only helped to fuel the fires of violence. 

History has shown clearly, time after time, that violence will achieve nothing. The GFA proves this conclusively. It was concluded and signed by nationalism and unionism as a result of peaceful negotiations and the absence of violence.

Unionists must look at the reality of where the problem really lies. Successive British governments, and this present English nationalist-dominated government, have increasingly shown their lack of interest in these six counties. Unionism must begin to consider a future that may well mean their exit from the union, not through anything that happens here, but as a result of Britain breaking ties with the north and enabling a reunification of this island.

Sean Seeley



PSNI compromised any chance of prosecutions over Storey funeral

THE Public Prosecution Service of Norther Ireland cited the PSNI’s engagement with the organisers of Bobby Storey’s funeral as a factor in limiting the chances of a successful prosecution – ie, our police force knowingly engaged with those about to commit a crime and therefore compromised the prosecution they themselves recommended. This is just the latest in a series of situations where the PSNI leadership has been questionable, resulting in a failure to successfully prosecute those breaking the Covid regulations. Then when young officers did act to enforce the regulations, one was immediately suspended prior to any inquiry. Meanwhile thousands of people have died from the virus and the vast majority of the community endure the loss of normal civilised interaction with admirable forbearance. Bizarrely, the political parties who have therefore lost confidence in the chief constable of the PSNI are then lambasted for stirring up trouble on the streets. What a strange country we live in.

James Martin
Co Down


Parents of rioting youth must shoulder responsibilty 

THE appalling and disgraceful scenes, orchestrated or not, witnessed in Belfast on Wednesday night tell us how far there is to go in the peace process. Young people were involved in the dreadful scenes of wanton violence and sectarian hatred, which are very disappointing. Many have called for diplomacy, but actions always prove more fruitful than words – action from parents in steering their children away from devilment. Why should it all fall on community leaders and politicians to calm it all down and make it go away? It seems that the old crowd of troublemakers in Northern Ireland have been replaced by a new upcoming breed, which hopefully is not the case. It is surely expected of parents to play a crucial and pivotal role in leading their teenagers away from violence and hatred. It might also be a good idea if parents kept their teenagers in at night, when the cover of darkness brings out the worst in them. They could also be damaged by a criminal record if caught, which may damage their career prospects significantly. The whole world watched Northern Ireland slip back into the past last Wednesday night. There is no future for Northern Ireland in clinging to the past and parents must now be called up to take responsibility for their teens. 

Maurice Fitzgerald
Co Cork


SF champions of big British businesses

THE present Sinn Féin/DUP policy to allow the big British retailers like M&S and Asda etc to sell clothes while our small clothes retail outlets remain closed is to be condemned.

In particular whose side is Sinn Féin on – the British businesses or our own businesses?

Terri Jackson
Co Down

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