Beware those encouraging young people on to streets
THE reasons behind the recent violence on our streets are many and complex. They reflect genuine issues that must be addressed.
However, setting fire to your own area, attacking your own police service, potentially damaging the economy of your own country and undermining its social fabric are self-defeating tactics. It’s like putting a gun to your own head and shouting that if you don’t get your own way you will pull the trigger.
Some in loyalism point out that republicans have made gains by making threats and carrying out violence.
Unfortunately, though, that movement, which tried to unite people by blowing them to bits, thrives on chaos in a way that other ideologies do not. They are relishing the scenes in some loyalist areas.
A genuine and serious approach has to be taken to deal with serious issues that have come to the fore.
We need a break from those constantly banging on about constitutional change, when most polls show there is no desire for it.
The Catch-22, is that the only way to pursue a constitutional preference successfully is to make Northern Ireland work socially and economically.
The reality for our politicians is that it is in all sides’ interests for Northern Ireland to be successful and so it is time for them to look at the issues and map a constructive way through them using the prism of the 1998 agreement.
Those that fail to follow such a path should be exposed for the blighted future they are ultimately pursuing as from our past we know already what they are offering our children.
As for the rioters, they should be very wary of anybody who is encouraging them into the streets. The deeply flawed ideologies on this island blighted the lives of young people in the past, and if they continue on their current paths, they risk doing so again.
In conclusion, if the EU is playing political games with the UK over Brexit, in Northern Ireland, they should play them elsewhere. We have had enough unnecessary conflict.
Holywood, Co Down
Southern commentariat should step out of partitionist comfort zone
AS Brian Feeney says (Column April 21), more Dublin politicians are now stepping forward on reunification. Unfortunately, the partitionism that lingers within certain sections of the Dublin commentariat is still on display in the anachronistic labelling of Irish citizens in the north as ‘Catholic/nationalist’. This invariably follows a perfunctory nod to the citizenship rights within the GFA and precedes a passionate defence of British identity in Ireland.
Having sectarianised their fellow citizens in the six counties these same commentators will, gan scáth gan náire, lament the sectarianism that endures there.
This, we are to understand, is somehow to be overcome without removing the border that embeds and enables it.
There is no credible reason why respect for British identity in Ireland requires it to be elevated above Irish identity. Nor does it necessitate either partition or the diminution of Irish national identity in the north. The challenge for unionism is, therefore, to accept this and participate with others on an equal basis in defining citizenship and citizen rights in an Ireland that reflects this reality.
The challenge for some Dublin commentators is to step out of their partitionist comfort zone and point this out.
Positive way through protocol impasse needed
IT is time for political parties to come together on the Northern Ireland Protocol, as was demonstrated at a recent ABC Council economic development meeting.
At March’s committee meeting councillors unanimously agreed to write to both the UK government and the European Union to raise concerns on behalf of the businesses who were experiencing trading difficulties due to the protocol.
It is imperative that positive solutions are found as soon as possible to resolve this issue and help ease tensions.
There is concern from some businesses in terms of the implementation of the protocol but there is also the potential reputational damage to the wider business and tourism sectors.
Therefore, having written to the EU and UK government, I am now calling for a cross-party delegation to be assembled to engage directly with both these parties.
Concerns could be raised on behalf of local businesses and communities, and possible solutions could include the provision of ‘maximum flexibility’ under the present agreement given Northern Ireland’s unique political situation, geographical location and relative size compared to any potential impact on the EU Single Market, or a veterinary agreement, or other solution.
We came together as a committee, now we need to come together to agree positive solutions.
Cllr Brian Pope (Alliance)
Chair of ABC Council Economic Development
and Regeneration Committee
Saddened by damage caused to the Mournes
THE devastating sight of the wildfire raging through the Mourne Mountains has, like many people, left me deeply saddened.
The loss to wildlife and biodiversity will take years to return. We owe a great deal of thanks to the noble men and women of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue and all the other agencies for their sterling efforts in repelling the fire.
In my opinion more education is needed on the proper protocols when using our mountains and countryside. Media articles, on-site notice boards, social media and pamphlets could be a start. This needs to be done by both central and local authorities.
The Mourne area of outstanding natural beauty needs to be cherished and protected by all.