Letters to the Editor

DUP wanted Brexit and now they must own its consequences

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture by Peter Morrison, Press Association

Writing in the Irish Times, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister complain that “A central pillar of the [Belfast] agreement is that it would be wrong to make ANY change in the status of Northern Ireland, save with the consent of the majority of its people”. They are, of course, perfectly correct, if the proposed change is the creation of a united Ireland, something which is not currently at issue. Otherwise, the laws passed by the UK parliament are currently binding on Northern Ireland.

But where was their concern for the democratic consent of the people of Northern Ireland when they went gung-ho in pursuit of Brexit despite the opposition of a large majority in Northern Ireland?

The Ireland Protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement is the direct result of the Brexit they pursued with their allies in the Tory party, signed, sealed and ratified on behalf of all the people of the UK and without any input by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In fact, the Protocol actually gives the Northern Ireland Assembly a role in foreign and trade policy for the first time, by allowing it to determine the future of the protocol every four years. Now their problem appears to be that it can do so on a majoritarian basis. But where was their concern for cross-community support on Brexit itself?

It appears Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister are only in favour of democracy when the people or their representatives support their own political views and feel free to ignore them when they don’t. They demand a veto for unionists, while ignoring nationalists and the democratic majority in Northern Ireland.

And their new-found support for the Belfast Agreement is also doubly laughable.

Firstly, they opposed it all their political lives, and secondly, they have refused to operate its north-south institutions which are an integral part of the agreement.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister would have more credibility if all the terms of the Belfast Agreement were fully operational and, in particular, if a majority in Northern Ireland were to vote for a united Ireland. They would then have legitimate concerns to discuss with the rest of Ireland.

But blaming the Irish government for the terms of a Brexit Agreement negotiated between their allies in the UK government and the EU does not enhance their international credibility. It was they who wanted Brexit, and now they must own its consequences.

FRANK SCHNITTGER
Editor, European Tribune

 

Government often closes stable doors after horses have bolted

I believe it was Carl Jung who floated the idea of one being possessed by an ideology rather than it being the other way around.

Those opposed to Brexit remind me a little of that mindset – everything that goes wrong is because of Brexit. The road haulage HGV drivers crisis is a current example. All caused by Brexit, when the real problem is more likely out-of-control DVLA bureaucracy.

I waited seven months on a tax book for an old classic motorcycle; because its existing tax book had been issued by Coleraine office (now closed) and the bike had been off road for 10 years, Swansea decided it no longer existed and the problem then fell between two stools and wasn’t easily fixable.

Imagine if this vehicle had become a needed daily driver vehicle for someone – waiting seven months?

Closer to home I had three one-hour phone sessions listening to elevator music trying to discuss a rates issue with land and property service in Belfast.

I heard one business representative, employing more than 100 HGV drivers, reacting to the suggestion that Brexit was the problem, explaining that only one EU Polish driver had left him and gone home but more than half of his drivers had licence and medical certificates log jammed with DVLA Swansea.

This haulage operator said government often closed stable doors after horses had bolted, but he believed that the problem with Swansea was that the horse had come back from furlough, had a chat with his mates and went off for coffee or to ‘do lunch’. Locking the country down was always going to have consequences and like the lyrics of the old Who song: “We all cheered it on and will now sit in judgment on its wrongs.”

BRIAN GIBSON
Comber, Co Down

 

Regional rates are a joke

Regional rates are set annually by the Executive and applied to each district council area.  Business properties are also assessed on their rental value, also known as the Net Annual Value. So basically, think of the smallest city centre bars in Belfast that you couldn’t swing a cat in.

This means, they are paying between £50,000 to £70,000 a year or £961 to £1,346 a week before they’ve even opened the door or pay their staff – the rates are a joke. This has a knock on effect and has created a stand-off between workers and some hospitality owners. Owners are closing their businesses two to three times a week to save money.

Boris Johnson has said the gas and energy price rises  that are going to cripple hundreds and thousands of the lowest paid income family workers and pensioners in Northern Ireland, is just a blip and will pan out.

Like it or not, we are on our own here in Northern Ireland. Nobody loves us in London, we need some serious (Mr Swann) leadership to get through the Covid crises, the cuts and years of underfunding and our vaccination roll out to protect our amazing NHS staff and all our front line workers.

MARTY McCAFFERTY
Belfast BT14

 

‘If you can’t get the ball get the man’

Mr Cosgrove  – ‘Like a seasoned media celebrity Joe steers proceedings on his terms’ (September 28) – tells us that Joe Brolly is a ‘seasoned media celeb’, ‘a name dropper’ who conjures up platforms to suit himself and is ‘poignant’ when speaking about his father. As well, Mr Cosgrove opines that Mr Brolly might stand for the Irish presidency.

As for Mr Brolly’s views on the political mayhem we have encountered here, his calling out of political parties, his aspirations – nothing from Mr Cosgrove. He has engaged in what is called an ad hominem argument. Basically attacking the speaker (he would say that, wouldn’t he). It attacks the integrity of the speaker rather than address his argument. Very familiar stuff.

So it is difficult to address anything of substance in Mr Cosgrove’s letter since I cannot find anything.

It reminds me of my GAA club days when the phrase “If you cannot get the ball, get the man” was used. Seems to continue to be relevant to some.

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

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Letters to the Editor