Letters to the Editor

Let's give unionists some credence on protocol's negative impact


Unionists have an overwhelming case for saying no to the protocol when it comes to medical supplies regarding licensing and logistical problems. Teva, which is a very significant player in medicine supplies, has confirmed that categories of medical supplies are not viable for sale, if they are not licensed in Northern Ireland because of the protocol, but can be in Great Britain, Teva’s CEO said on BBC’s Newsline (November 16). Teva also cited “added expense costs with paperwork” which is not there in other parts of the internal UK market. The medical supplies issue graphically demonstrates the problems with the protocol which is having an impact across the board in terms of business. No one is actually saying unionists are wrong, but just that they are holding things up. Of course they are not wrong but actually right. If the Irish state was treated any differently in the EU to the rest of member states there would be enormous trouble over it. But yet, they want all the parties in Northern Ireland to accept the protocol and get on with it. That is the impression given and paints the DUP as the bad guys. But what is there to get on with – a faulty and loss-making protocol treaty which has huge implications for NI within the UK internal market. Sinn Féin have not dared to say either that Northern Ireland is not losing out because of the protocol, instead citing the refusal of the DUP to do business with Sinn Féin per se. Truth is a sea border is already in place and a land border completely ruled out, even though Irish customs police the border on their side of it. Unionists have a very legitimate case and the proof is most certainly there when corporations speak out and echo what Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said about loss to Northern Ireland and its constitutional integrity within the UK system. Unionists have right on their side and those expecting them to cave into governmental pressure or EU persuasion better think again.  As a southern observer I sympathise with unionists’ concerns about the protocol because objectively they are right to fight for a better deal and equal treatment. It is a wonder too why our Republic is not more concerned about the impact of cross-border trade because of the protocol  –  if they are concerned at all given their silence on its impact. Are they short-sighted too in seeing the disadvantages and profound implications of the protocol on trade across this island? Let’s give unionists some credence and room on the negative impact of the protocol.

Shanbally, Co Cork


Ambiguity over border poll voting needs to be resolved

After Ian Paisley’s attempt to introduce a super-majority for a border poll, you can guarantee that unionist and Conservative politicians will be trying their best to manipulate the rules to ensure that they have an advantage in any future poll.
The Good Friday Agreement states clearly that constitutional change can only happen with consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll.  However, how is the ‘people’ of Northern Ireland defined.

Will 16 or 17-year-olds be allowed to vote like they did in the Scottish referendum? If they are old enough to leave home, work and pay taxes surely they should be allowed to vote.

In the Brexit referendum, EU citizens were not allowed to vote but those from the Commonwealth were. Will this same rule apply here in a border poll?
What about other foreign nationals who are legally resident or have claimed asylum? Also it is unclear if prisoners convicted of less serious offences would be part of the franchise.

The Irish and British governments as co-guarantors of the agreement need to set out the conditions for calling a border poll as well as clearing up any ambiguity around who can vote.

Belfast BT5


Sometimes multi-party democracy doesn’t suit

I watched the whole of Adam Curtis’s Russia 1985-1999: Traumazone and concluded that a great attempt at establishing a socio-political economic system (Communism) to meet the needs of its people failed eventually through massive corruption, something that a system based on meeting everyone’s needs could not withstand. Capitalism, on the other hand, can withstand corruption at gargantuan levels as no matter how impoverished the vast majority of people become, the system can still function as the system isn’t trying to meet everyone’s basic needs. Multi-party democracy doesn’t suit sometimes. It’s nearly always a facade for plutocratic rule, anyway. So sad that a system which put the people to the fore was destroyed, in many ways, by greed. How the west grovelled in the failure and how since, the west has been dismantling its own social security systems which were needed to counterbalance the achievements in social security by communist countries.

Hillsborough, Co Down


All victims’ lives matter

Forgive me for being a bit sceptical with the latest utterings of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris in The Irish News (November 10).  As he stated in the article he expressed his sympathies to the families of the people killed in the Enniskillen bomb on the 35th anniversary of the atrocity. As a family, we don’t need the anniversary also November 8 but 1974, that was the date when the UVF cruelly tortured and murdered our young brother, Paul Armstrong.

How can our family have any confidence in yet another secretary of state – no perfect solution to this issue exists according to him. Well,  I would like to pose a direct question to him. He goes on to say we will do our best to address all the concerns that people raise with us.

Here is my concern to the secretary of state. Do the Paul Armstrongs of these so-called Troubles not matter? Does it have to be an atrocity? – a term used over the years by many. He further goes on to add that he was quite sure that this is the last legislation vehicle that any government will try to address this problem.

Belfast BT17


Inspiration to all historians

Like many readers I felt personal grief at the passing of Éamon Phoenix. I have often heard him speak and his work inspired me as a local amateur historian.

I hope The Irish News will recirculate his wonderful columns looking back at events in Ireland for years to come.

An bhfeicfidh muid a leithéid arís go deo? Go dtuga sé suaimhneas ar thaobh na láimhe deise den Tiarna.

Downpatrick, Co Down


Letters to the Editor