Letters to the Editor

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's negative speech offered no proposals for solving Protocol problem

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson delivers his keynote speech on the Northern Ireland Protocol to senior party members at the La Mon hotel in east Belfast. Photo: Peter Morrison/PA Wire.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson in his statement (September 9) reminded me of General George Armstrong Custer and his last stand. Despite overwhelming odds and the certainty of defeat, he ploughed on into battle. The outcome was clearly inevitable and Custer and his men were routed. Donaldson is facing even greater overwhelming odds but is charging ahead with demands that are never going to be met. The final outcome will be the same as that visited upon Custer and his men.

Donaldson has stated that either the protocol goes or the Good Friday institutions will be pulled down by the withdrawal of the DUP MLAs. Does he still blindly believe that Boris Johnson, or indeed the rest of Europe, will be influenced one iota by this ludicrous and, to them, completely meaningless threat?

Boris and his ultra-conservative English nationalist party have already put the boot into the DUP several times, showing complete disregard for them in particular and the whole six counties in general. Can he really believe that he can influence 27 European countries to such an extent that they will undo an integral part of European legislation? Even the other parties in the executive, including the UUP, are totally opposed to his irrational and worrying demands and fearful of the dangers to our health system and schools.

In his very negative speech Donaldson offered no solution and neither did he put forward any proposals that would solve the problems he sees with the Protocol. His attitude was, ‘Give us what we want or we will take our team off the pitch and not play anymore’. His threat to bring the institutions down amidst the current pandemic is to be condemned in every possible way.

Sir Jeffrey needs also to be reminded that his party was a part of the team that negotiated this treaty and therefore created the current situation that the DUP now find themselves in. He has put himself and his party out there on a limb and there is no obvious way back, short of retracting his selfish demands – and to do this would be the end of his political life.

The Protocol is part of an international agreement and is going nowhere. Negotiations are ongoing between Britain and Europe and the best Donaldson can hope for is that whatever they decide, he can claim it as a victory for the DUP’s stance. Meanwhile, Doug Beattie and the UUP have clearly outmanoeuvred and outplayed Donaldson. The result of this will be clearly seen after the next assembly elections, be they before Christmas or next May.

Craigavon, Co Armagh


Typical (non) response to criticism

John Cushnahan’s (non) response to my criticism of him (September 1) is  typical ‘hop, skip and jump’ Fine Gael deflection politics by ignoring the vast majority of my points, especially the recent Fine Gael scandals. Instead he portrays himself as a victim and only for his beloved RUC survived, and boasts of the many tributes paid to him on his retirement. I wonder if the many known and unknown family victims of the RUC congratulated him in his ‘how great thou art’ eulogy?

John Cushnahan states a small minority in any police force will either not uphold or break the law. That small minority must have covered some miles throughout the six counties. No doubt he was successful in raising state violence with Margaret Thatcher and informed Irish News readers - enough said.

John also had published the same letters in unionist papers and unsurprisingly received thumbs up for his views. As The Irish News published only those challenging him there were no thumbs up there. As a famous English historian once said “the policy of the six county state government was to make it a hostile place as possible for the Irish to the effect they will want to leave, leaving only unionists behind”.

Belfast BT11


Ridiculous cost of childcare

The cost of childcare must be addressed by the NI Executive as a priority. Lack of investment in a serious childcare policy is a very serious problem. Currently the costs of childcare in the north are second highest in Europe with the lack of subsidy for childcare limiting women’s access and ability to work. Currently childcare costs amount to 37 per cent of the average two-parent wage.

Other countries do much more to assist parents returning to work. There is a desperate need to address this issue properly and fairly. The government consistently cut benefits and tell people they must return to work and contribute to the economy with no thought or support in how they pay for childcare costs. It’s also important to remember that childcare costs don’t vanish once children go to school as parents have to ensure before and after school childcare so they can get to work and complete a full day. It is time for the north to finally deliver on flexible, accessible and affordable childcare for all families. The only way to do this is a fully funded and strategic childcare policy to be put in place with the necessary funding to ensure this.

Workers’ Party, North Belfast


Billions to spend

Not knowing the actual cost of a single dose of Covid vaccine, I am unable to work out exactly how many people could be fully vaccinated if I had $778 billion to spend but I suspect it would be a huge number of the population in the poorest areas of the world. However, it appears that there are more important items on the US shopping list. It’s good to know that some of this cash will find it’s way to London to bolster the UK economy when 1,500 companies will gather there this week to

sell guns, weapons and bombs at the DSEI Fair. What a relief it will be to know that we will all be in a much safer world with so much to protect us from danger.

Why are the bishops and various peace groups in England, Scotland and Wales, encouraging people to protest against, rather than encourage, this lucrative fundraiser for the chancellor? I’m sure that the Ministry of Defence will be delighted to receive some of this income to help build a replacement for the Trident missile submarine or to rush to another successful peace campaign as in Afghanistan.

Some people may be foolish enough to think that spending more money on trying to prevent the spread of Covid or improving the

Health Service is a priority but those in the arms trade know better.

Belfast BT17

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Letters to the Editor