Letters to the Editor

Nothing great about our ‘wee country'

"If unionism really wanted nationalists to share this piece of Ireland they would stop referring to the other part of Ireland as a foreign country"

Nothing great about our ‘wee country’

Neither a country, nor great, though it is wee. We also hear a new mantra from unionists begging nationalists to join them in making this place work.

When nationalism was abandoned in 1921 and forced into this undemocratic situation by a vindictive English parliament, unionism could have helped us, rather than making life nearly impossible and making sure this was a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people and that its policies would leave ‘not a Catholic about the place’.

It might have worked better if those basic human rights had been granted as a matter of form at the formation of Northern Ireland or even 50 years later when they were the justifiable demands of the Civil Rights movement then maybe, just maybe nationalist could have seen a future but the Stormont mantra remained ‘not an inch’.

Unionism will point out that all of these things have now been granted since (they call them concessions) but it took 30 bloody years to get to a situation where human beings had human rights, a job, a house, a vote and the right to pursue promotion where it did not depend on what school you attended or where you were born or which Church you went to.

If unionism really wanted nationalists to share this piece of Ireland they would stop referring to the other part of Ireland as a foreign country.

Today, 100 years after the formation of Northern Ireland, there is still a majority of unionism who want this place to remain a Protestant state.

PETER McEVOY
Newry, Co Down

 

Social distancing had nothing to do with empty seats at seminar

Carol Mary Frazer admits that she was not at the united Ireland forum meeting in Cork (October 8). There was only one video camera at the event and it was static, which does not give the same impression and feeling of actually being there. Social distancing had nothing whatsoever to do with empty seats.

Enough people just didn’t come through the door to fill them and they remained empty until the end of the seminar.  Remember we were in the middle of a city with an event advertised well in advance.

Even though the room was roughly three quarters full, there are always fellow travellers who bulk up the audience at these events, minus party political members in the audience, the audio-PA people, the media, the panel, and those who had specific causes who attempted to amalgamate those issues into a united Ireland discussion.

Yes, indeed, some speakers went off topic. In fact, two admitted they did during their long-winded speeches as they lost the run of themselves, notwithstanding my observations. From being an honest attempt to initiate genuine debate, I felt it was slanted and arrogantly assumed a “united Ireland was coming and we should get ready for it”. One can imagine what the reaction would be if someone stood up and said it may not happen at all?

I would say to Carol Mary Frazer: she needs to turn up to at least one event which is advertised to be held in Armagh on December 1 and judge for herself outside the media of live streaming and she will soon discover how long there is to go before a united Ireland comes within sight, or not at all.

I would say three things she needs to consider before attending the meeting: (1) A united Ireland does not have to happen. Just because a mountain is there, does not mean it has to be climbed. (2) Is there enough popular interest to make it happen, as climate issues and health have perpetually dominated politics in this country for some time and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. (3) And if the only reason why a debate is being initiated about ending partition is because of the economic fallout of Brexit, and it appears to be, then it is non-authentic and nothing but a convenient discussion. But it may be valuable nonetheless in testing the waters and should be credited for that.

However, a new Ireland does not necessarily mean a united Ireland will spring from it, nor a road map to it  –  if they manage to come up with one after all the forum meetings have been held?

MAURICE FITZGERALD
Shanbally, Co Cork

 

Exhibiting an authoritarian mindset

In the aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016, two groups emerged on the losing side of the debate. There were those who voted ‘remain’ but accepted the result of the ballot must be respected and acted upon. There are also those who voted ‘remain’ but continue to undermine the democratic process.

Frank Schnittger’s letter (October 7) is firmly within the latter camp. It exhibits an authoritarian mindset, ill at ease with democracy, and seeks to discredit those who supported withdrawing from the European Union. Mr Schnittger invokes the Good Friday Agreement yet appears to miss the part which states, quite clearly, that Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom constitution. Rather predictably, Mr Schnittger seeks to apportion blame for the Northern Ireland Protocol at the DUP insisting “this is the Brexit they voted for” and “they must own the consequences”. The question on the ballot paper in 2016 asked if the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Union. So long as Northern Ireland continues to be governed by the institutions of the European Union then the result of the referendum has not been implemented.

The Withdrawal Agreement was agreed and ratified by those involved in the negotiations but so too was the Anglo-Irish Treaty. As former Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan points out, changes were made to the Treaty at the request of nationalism in the years following its ratification. Does Mr Schnittger think it is unreasonable for unionism to seek the same regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol?

GERALD GRAHAM
Belfast BT7

 

Weaponising language

John Cushnahan – ‘It’s appropriate to participate in ecumenical service’ (October 12) – refers to the service in Armagh which he describes as ‘ecumenical’. The word refers to the promotion of Christian unity throughout the world. So, I have to ask, what happened a century ago that caused disunity in the Christian Churches? What great schism occurred? None, but a political decision was taken against the wishes of the electorate in Ireland.

Britain partitioned this nation. Now this created a statelet based on sectarianism.

Sectarianism was alive and well in Ireland but this political decision copperfastened and indeed legitimised it. That’s how I read it. So this decision taken 100 years ago was a political decision. President Higgins recognised this and acted accordingly.

Honest reflection has its place in so much but it has to occur in an honest historical and social context.

Words like ‘diversity’ and ‘reconciliation’ do have their place but taken out of that place they can become weaponised.

“It’s all too easy to use words like diversity and all the rest of it, but it’s about how much complexity can you take” – these words are a quote from President Michael D Higgins.

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

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