Letters to the Editor

Promised actions could have serious consequences for north


Am I the only unionist disturbed by the seeming consensus among pro-union parties and newspapers that Liz Truss will be good for Northern Ireland? 

Back in 2018 when the DUP were supporting Boris in his plan for Brexit there were warnings of potential disaster for NI but they were ignored.  Today we are in a similar situation.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are in a fierce battle to win the support of the Tory party membership, driving each other to more extreme policy announcements to win the support of elderly Tory party membership  In a recent newspaper article Sunak boasted that his experience of creating tough sanctions against Russia would be useful as he negotiated with the EU over the NI Protocol. (Was Russia invading Ukraine really comparable to the EU signing a trade deal with the UK?)

Future Tory Party policy is being decided in this election race, by a tiny number of Tory members, many of whom may not even be UK citizens.  Liz Truss, the favourite, came only third in the vote of elected Tory MPs.  Nadine Dorries infamously let the cat out of the bag when she reminded candidates that they worked for the Tory Party donors as much as for the electorate.

Both candidates are promising a bonfire of EU regulations – sounds good for growth if you don’t stop to think – we could all travel faster if there were no rules on our roads and motorways, but with consequences; rules were invented to protect people – food standards, fair employment, health and safety, etc). Liz Truss seems to be winning the battle to prove that she is the low tax, low government candidate, she ruled out helping the lowest paid with ‘handouts’ and promoted ideas such as regional pay variations which would mean that nurses and teachers in Northern Ireland would be paid less than those in England, until a public backlash forced a U-turn.   

Some of the promised actions could have serious consequences for NI.  A trade war with the EU will have an effect on the people of Yorkshire or Strathclyde, but the effect on NI will be greater. We have the Irish Sea between us and the rest of the UK, we are the only part of the UK to have a land border with the EU – these geographical facts have consequences and will make a trade war with the EU catastrophic for us.  Those who believe the next Tory PM will dramatically increase the NI block grant to protect our workforce, are being naïve.

Right now, we are the second most successful part of the UK after London; how soon will we drop back to being the least successful again if Truss becomes PM? Does anyone really know where Liz Truss will take us?

Belfast BT6


Narcissistic Johnson

The history of the world has been blighted by the narcissistic, ambitions of men, whose desire for power exceeded the needs of their own people. They perpetuate their autocratic regimes by surrounding themselves with people who idolise them and pandered to their egotisms.  

The entire German nation had to indulge Hitler with their ‘Heil Hitler’ salutes; Donald Trump was bigger than the office he held; Putin and his wealthy oligarchs epitomise this phenomena and we had the never, never, never, Ian Paisley, the man who rejected everything until he had the chance to fulfil his personal ambition and become First Minister.  

We are in a total Brexit mess (just look at Dover) primarily because of the personal ambition of Boris Johnson. To emulate David Cameron was probably the real reason he opposed him in the Brexit debate, with a £350m lie emblazoned on his big red bus. He got Brexit done, in a fashion, thinking he could later tear up this internationally binding agreement. 

The narcissistic Johnson surrounded himself with a cabinet of nodding donkeys, pandering to his egotism and tolerating the loutish, party culture that became synonymous with Downing Street. Two of these people are now the prime ministerial candidates. They knew, more than most, what Johnson was really like, yet they indulged his impetuosity and exuded an adoring admiration from every pore as they sat nodding their approval, until he became detrimental to their own ambitions. Their justification being ‘he got the big decisions right’. Did he really? 

His was a premiership of empty rhetoric – 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses, 20,000 more policemen and promises of fantastic opportunities for deals with places on the other side of the world and inward investment. Brexit was to be Johnson’s legacy – unfortunately for him, the judgment of history is likely to be totally negative on Brexit and his term in office. 

The political pantomime will continue, highlighted by the slanging matches at the Dispatch Box. Meanwhile, the earth continues to burn, as the two protagonists engage in an unedifying cat fight to fulfil their own personal ambitions. The new government will have short term fixes, the oligarchs and Tory party members will make further millions on their share portfolios and the new PM will say: “This is in the best interest of all the people in the United Kingdom.” 

Newry, Co Down


Violation of workers’ rights

On July 19 the Ukrainian parliament adopted Draft Law 5371, which abolished labour rights for 94 per cent of Ukrainian workers. This law introduces extreme liberalisation of labour relations, it discriminates against employees of all micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and deprives them of labour and union protection. The trade unions actively opposed the promotion of this draft law for two years. Despite warnings from the International Trade Union Confederation, the European Trade Union Confederation, and the International Labour Organisation regarding the inconsistency of this draft law with the principles and norms of European legislation, the ILO Conventions, the conclusions of scientists and experts, the parliament of Ukraine has adopted it. Among the consequences will be massive violation of workers’ rights and further departures of the most qualified economically active segment of population. The situation is complicated by the bloody war started by the Russian aggressor. Surely if the Ukrainian government is receiving billions in aid from the EU it should be stepping to the demands of the EU law and workers’ right and not acting like a country set in a Victorian mindset.

Dublin 22


Choir is more central to worship than a fancy spire

A Church of England newspaper reports the disbandment of St Anne’s Cathedral choir in Belfast (‘Professional choir goes in Belfast cost-cutting’, Church Times, August 8). A BBC article, April 12 2007, refers to a cost of £850,000 to place a gigantic shiny steel needle – ‘Spire of Hope’ – on top of St Anne’s Cathedral. Exactly how the 40 metre needle bears witness to creation, or to Christ, challenges me as an ordained Church of Ireland member. A choir might be more central to worship than a fancy spire. Do our bishops sometimes show little sign of conscience on environmental questions or the wise stewardship of scarce resources? Our denomination might fare far better if it had half the number of bishops or cathedrals, plus a great deal more concern and compassion for members.

Belfast BT5


Letters to the Editor