Letters to the Editor

Unionists are at another crossroads

Sinn Féin leaders Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald address a press conference in Stormont. Picture by Mal McCann

The political sands of the north of Ireland have shifted. The recent elections have been the most important in a generation – until the next one. Sinn Féin have become the main party in the Assembly administration. This juncture represents the beginning of the endgame for the State within the Union. Echoing Padraig Pearse’s insistence – anois ar theacht an tSamhraidh...  now the summer is coming. Yes, the unionist carnival is over. The myth of unionist/ Protestant/loyalist unity gone. Another step along the road to rid us of this hyper-sectarian state.

In an ironic way the unionist people will have come to another crossroads. Their first in 1972 when Westminster imposed direct rule, provoking an existential crisis for the unionists as they lost control of their Protestant state. The British approach to direct rule involving  a complex balancing act between the political divisions in the north, failed. Now 50 years later unionists will have to agree to a new formation, a fresh programme for government and to define their status within a new inclusive cross-community administration.

Many people would view the success in the elections as a boost for Sinn Féin’s long-running campaign for a referendum on uniting with the Republic of Ireland. Sinn Féin have said its main priority after the election is dealing front and centre with the cost of living crisis. However, they are still Irish republicans and unity is still on the agenda. They must push for that, plan for that and deliver on that. There can only be a united ireland democratically elected by the people across the island.

While the 1998 Good Friday Agreement generated a more inclusive polity and provided the instruments for good democracy, it was just a brief pause on the path towards a permanent solution. The bottom line was that it was a policy to shore up the state, not dismantle it. It’s now up to the people to make it work as intended and not to reward parties which can build deeper and more secure bunkers. The unionists continue to remain entrenched.

Britain’s ‘Irish problem’ has come to plague British politics a century later. But instead of a government that’s in London turning its back on the north, imagine an Ireland where the unionists’ place is assured, and their rights are enshrined by a constitution and in law.

The unionists’ current crossroad can be summed up in the words of Winston Churchill’s Second World War speech: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Dublin 6


It’s permissible to welcome historic election

The result of the Northern Ireland election – which made Sinn Féin the largest party and also qualifies Michelle O’Neill to be First Minister – spells out one thing above all: the residue of British Empire and racist/sectarian construct of Northern Ireland are over. And, no, this is not triumphalism – just a statement of fact and the welcoming of equality, fairness and solidarity.

The dynamics of injustice and oppression all over the world are, at root, essentially the same.

The oppressed are told they must accept their lot and not resist. And, then, when they make progress and succeed they are told they must not be too pleased – that it’s unbecoming for the second-class citizens to be seen celebrating and rejoicing: that’s only proper for first-class citizens.

However, consider this: if a constituency in America that was rigged/gerrymandered to permanently exclude black people from power eventually attains a democratic majority, are black people forbidden to welcome the coming of justice and equality? Are they not allowed to utter the hallowed words famously quoted by Dr Martin Luther King jnr – “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty we are free at last”?

Today, black people, thank God, would have the political confidence and self-esteem to utter those words in this example. Black people know the last shackle of oppression is to try and blackmail people into not rejoicing in equality and freedom… And that’s why black people – and I along with them – were overjoyed by the election of the admirable President Obama. So, yes, nationalists/republicans/Catholics are allowed to welcome this historic moment – just as long as they do not parade and swagger (backed up by police/military force) through poor Protestant areas blaring out Irish rebel songs, which I would be the first to condemn.

Now, as a Fermanagh man, I know full well this election does not yet mean full freedom for Ireland. But it is most surely a historic moment. That is why the Irish National Caucus internet ‘One Ireland Petition’ is still as relevant as ever: ‘Ireland, too, has the right to be One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’

Please sign right away in Truth, Justice, Love and Freedom – www.change.org/IrelandOneNation.

‘Peace is the fruit of solidarity.’

President Irish National Caucus


Now let’s see Sinn Féin take up their Westminster seats

Sinn Fein’s dream of becoming the dominant party in Northern Ireland simply means that they will now think they own the whole country.

There was a distinct lack of Irish tricolours being waved about at the count centres. We are grateful for this at least, given that it is the flag of this Republic and there is no right to exclusive ownership by Sinn Féin. And to think they used to mock the SDLP because of its insistence that unity is not about silly things like the team colours being waved in everyone’s face.

It’s like a comedy up there, what with the rampant Shinners over the moon to be top of the heap in their British administration.

I’d love to see them taking up their seats at Westminster – if nothing more than to show the world they are British subjects in government.

We can rest assured that if Sinn Féin achieved the unthinkable overall majority vote here in the south and get into government at some stage, nobody with a properly functioning brain will take them seriously.

Bantry, Co Cork


Defending the unborn

Anna McCann (May 9) defends the anti-abortion sentiments of Fr McCafferty. A single image on the NHS website supports the stance of Fr McCafferty and all who seek to defend unborn humans. When anyone looks at the three-month ‘dating scan’ pregnancy ultrasound a child is clearly visible. Are abortion supporters or their media allies frequently silenced by the profile of a small child? In my experience they often seem unwilling to discuss this clinical image. Ancient Jewish wisdom says: “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.”

Belfast BT5

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Letters to the Editor