Unionists and prime minister laying out a collision course with EU
The utter incompetence of Johnson’s government at the time of the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement became obvious when business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng conceded to Sky News that, “Obviously nobody had any idea the actual effects of [the Protocol] until we left the EU”. Is he seriously saying that a government signed an international treaty without understanding what it entailed?
Such an utterance should set off huge alarm bells for the unionists. It has been clear from his decision to join the Brexit campaign that the PM will say or do whatever is politically expedient at the time. Think of the effective amnesty for British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland or the decision to impose abortion on Northern IrelandI over the head of the Executive.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson showed a lot of political acumen when he said that the Protocol wasn’t working on a practical level, but then ruined his argument by coming out with seven demands that had to be met before unionists would agree to anything. Donaldson’s ‘unpractical’ gambit would have had some merit with Brussels because the EU likes things running smoothly. There would have been traction here.
The unionists and the PM are laying out a collision course with the EU – the proverbial immovable and unstoppable object scenario. The problem for the unionists is that in the final analysis Johnson will do what suits his political needs at the time. They may be fortunate. Perhaps standing up to Brussels will be what suits the PM, but on the other hand, it may be expedient to throw up his hands and say: “Sorry, Jeffrey, I tried but, in the end, the bad people of Brussels wouldn’t agree.”
Common consensus is that Boris Johnson shuffles along being guided more by events than by principle. I believe this opinion underestimates the PM. You don’t become leader of the Conservative party without having a plan and the ability to carry it out. What is the plan? I believe he will do as I said above, but it may also be a ploy to renegotiate another entry into Europe on some sort of Switzerland model. One thing we can be sure of is that when Johnson moves, he will move quickly and decisively, and it will be to suit him and the Conservative party. No one else.
Portglenone, Co Antrim
Protecting the union
THE Irish News (July 12) carried a full page spread on Jim Allister’s ramblings and dismay at the ‘Protocol’, which suspiciously resembled a rant full of paranoid, unsubstantiated allegations and wild inaccuracies. He asserts centenary celebrations have been “deliberately stymied” through republicans’ “malevolent intent” and indicates how unionist cultural expression is being suppressed while trying to mark a very significant event.
In his long-winded diatribe he declares that he is “under no illusions about the union-dismantling protocol, its purpose and design”. On this particular point he is quite emphatic and repetitive, misinterpreting the reasons for the protocol and its so-called “dismantling of union by stealth”. He seemingly fails to recognise the protocol was brought about by Boris Johnson, who wanted Brexit done. Assisted by the DUP he was determined to get the harebrained deal done at any cost and nothing including dithering unionists was going to stand in his way. Therefore, chrysalis-like, the protocol emerged, undetermined, it was negotiated with full acquiescence of the largest unionist party who failed in their meaningless and misleading rhetoric of ‘protecting the union’.
As he searches for ammunition to offload on the Good Friday Agreement he, in his infinite wisdom, invents unethical and improbable scenarios slamming the consent principle, incongruously worked out in GFA and St Andrews. He also postulates, on how the “protocol lessens the prospect of unionists ever acquiescing to a united Ireland on a democratic basis as they feel that unity will have been delivered by stealth and in a underhand way”. Something similar, perhaps, one would suggest as to how the entity of ‘Northern Ireland’ came into existence – under the guise of threats of violence, intimidation, violence and murderous intent – all in the name of democratic principles of course.
Knowledge of faith limited
Suneil Sharma (July 6) portrayed himself as some kind of authority on Christianity. That, alas, turned out to be no more than a concoction of ignorance and contradiction.
He starts by agreeing with President Joe Biden’s stance on abortion, which is, that while he would not personally end the life of a child, he supports those who choose to do so.
Then he spouts his consent for gay marriage. He claims the Church can’t get its head around same-sex unions, but it seems that he is the one with a problem – a total disrespect for the sanctity of marriage. Next on his agenda was child abuse.
No sooner had he vented his anger and outrage at those who would cause harm to children, than he was telling us that the termination of your unborn child was a right.
Your knowledge of the Christian faith is limited, Mr Sharma, and that is reflected in your offensive rhetoric throughout your letter. What is deplorable, is your disrespect for unborn human life.
Coleraine, Co Derry
What has happened to my lovely Newcastle?
I was reared in Newcastle, Co Down and since the early 1980s have lived in Dublin. I promote my home town everywhere I travel. Last week I arrived for our family annual holidays. I am frankly incandescent with rage of the disgusting filth that is around the main street of this once beautiful town.
The bins are not emptied often enough, the pavements are filthy, black and stinking. It is utterly depressing and I am only here a few days.
Why has this happened?
Clondalkin, Co Dublin
Don’t let Nolan says get under your skin
Peter McEvoy (July 22) told us of his anger regarding Stephen Nolan’s attitude towards all things English. Why would you let anything that Nolan says get under your skin? He should be treated for what he is at best – an overpaid agony aunt for those who feel the need to share their feelings and personal details.
Nolan isn’t worth your time, Peter. There is a market for him, but it’s a tiny splash in a very big sea.
Finaghy, Co Antrim