DUP will have to learn to live with ‘fait accompli'
The negotiations are finally over and the contents of the new protocol have been made public amid a frenzy of hyperbole, in an effort to secure the support of unionists in general and the DUP in particular.
Rishi Sunak has been hogging all the mainstream media in order to sell the deal to the DUP and wider unionism. But what about nationalism, and the expectations of nationalists – nothing, not a word and not a headline in any newspaper.
Many nationalists may, justifiably, feel that their feelings and expectations have been totally ignored, and that no consideration has been given to nationalist views on the finer details of the protocol. Nationalists may also be feeling that everything that has been done with the trade deal has been done to placate the DUP and to reward them for picking up the ball and walking off the field in a spoilt tantrum. Sunak is clearly doing nothing to dispel these beliefs as his main aim is to create a path for the DUP to get themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into.
No matter what kind of spin the DUP try to paint the new deal with, the truth is that little change has been made to the protocol, and the changes which have been made come nowhere close to conceding to their seven selfish demands. The economic border down the Irish Sea, which was there long before the protocol, remains in place and certain goods coming from Britain to the north will still face checks. The DUP demand that there should be no border in the Irish Sea and all goods should flow freely from Britain to the north has clearly not been met.
The cleverly named Stormont Brake, being used by Sunak to convince unionists that they will have a real say in any proposed EU legislation here, is really pulling the wool over their eyes. The ‘brake’ can only be applied if 30 members sign a Petition of Concern, and this only stalls the proposed legislation. It then goes before the UK and the EU for a final decision. It does give Stormont a say in the decision-making process but it is weak and subject to European blocks.
Another demand made by the DUP was that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would have absolutely no say on economic affairs but again they have failed to achieve this call. Ursula von der Leyen stated quite clearly that the ECJ would remain ‘the final and ultimate arbiter’.
It is a win-win situation for everyone here economically, the deal is done and is here to stay, and for or against, the DUP will have to learn to live with the ‘fait accompli’.
Craigavon, Co Armagh
There is nothing in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (GFA) to preclude a trade or customs border on the island of Ireland between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic (RoI). Why? Because the GFA envisages the UK, NI and the RoI continuing to “develop still further the unique relationship between their peoples and the close cooperation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union” (EU).
Relative to the GFA the Brexit movement, referendum and enactment were out of order, invalid, and necessitated a trade/customs border.
(a) The GFA is no longer operable or (b) The UK must re-join the EU.
An inoperable GFA might suit the interests of the DUP and dissident republicans, neither of which supported the GFA, but it is not in the better interests of the majority of people in NI and the RoI.
Short of the UK as a whole, dominated by the overwhelmingly large population of England, returning to the EU, Scotland and NI, whose majority populations voted to remain in the EU, could invoke clauses in the GFA allowing them to opt out of England’s Brexit decision. If England and Wales then opt to remain out of the EU there would need to be a trade/customs border on the island of GB and in the Irish Sea. The UK as a parliamentary union, albeit devolved, could not function in that scenario. Nor can it function in the present scenario unless there is some Protocol/Windsor Framework type of arrangement.
If the DUP and other unionists don’t accept this and return to Stormont it will be imposed by joint direct rule from Westminster and Dublin, the joint guarantors of the GFA. The DUP will have lost their argument and will have deprived NI of the benefits of devolved government.
Strabane, Co Tyrone
Irish Army is held in high esteem
In his letter – ‘Laughable Proposal’ (February 27) – Sean O’Fiach deliberately sets out to belittle the Irish army. He calls it ‘free state army’ and states that it ‘is one of the most ill-equipped and ill-trained armies in existence not just in the developed world but in comparison to many underdeveloped and third world countries”.
For the benefit of Mr O’Fiach here are some facts.
Since 1958 members of the Irish Defence Forces have served on peacekeeping missions all over the world. Since then, they have the proud record of unbroken peacekeeping service.
They first served the United Nations in the Congo from 1960 to 1964.
From that first UN mission they served in Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eitrea, Liberia, Chad, Somali and Mali.
In Europe they served in Cyprus, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Army personnel are serving with the UN in Lebanon.
In this year the total number of Irish army personnel serving with UN missions
A total of 88 members of the Irish army have died in the service of peace with the UN.
So Mr O’Fiach the Irish army is held in such esteem that if the UN need soldiers their first port of call is for Irish troops because they are among the best trained soldiers in the world.
Newry, Co Down
Nominate your heart hero
You may know us as Olympic gymnasts but we’re thrilled to have taken on new roles as ambassadors for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
This is a charity that is extremely close to our hearts. Our brother, Josh, sadly died from a sudden cardiac arrest in 2021 while he was playing cricket. CPR was attempted before he was taken to hospital, but nothing could be done to save him. He was just 24.
We later found out he had a heart condition called arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, which is genetic and something we continue to be monitored for.
This is why we’re so passionate about supporting the BHF and know there is more research that needs to be done, which could prevent others from losing their loved ones.
Every fundraiser, volunteer and researcher are an essential part in making this happen, and the BHF’s Heart Hero Awards celebrates those who have made a difference to those affected by heart conditions.
Without them, the groundbreaking work the BHF does just wouldn’t be possible. Entries are now open, so please show your support and nominate your heart heroes by visiting bhf.org.uk/hhanominate
BECKY and ELLIE DOWNIE
British Heart Foundation Ambassadors