Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Letters to the Editor: 'Good Friday Agreement demands we stand by the people of Northern Ireland over Brexit'

Peace is made by putting our own conveniences, economics and feelings to the side for the greater good.

Dan O’Brien’s declaration that we should abandon a backstop that protects not only nationalists but also unionist businesses from the harshest aspects of Brexit (Comment, March 21) is exactly the sort of mé féiner behaviour the Irish need to avoid at a time when everyone in Northern Ireland is feeling very vulnerable.

When Ireland signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, we agreed to stand by Northern Ireland in the journey of peace that it had embarked on, supporting the difficult choices as people reached across the sectarian divide to figure out how to create a mutually respectful future and a Northern Ireland which cherishes all her children equally.

Throwing Northern Ireland under a bus at the behest of a minority – especially a minority that does not reflect the Remain vote of the Northern Irish people – to serve some sort economic gain is not honouring our commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

We should be calling for the decision about their future to be put to the Northern Irish people, whose very lives have been turned upside down by this Brexit mess.

It is pretty obvious that the hard Brexiteers – for all their wailing about the backstop regarding the Border – do not really give a fig about the people of Northern Ireland.

For the sake of peace and harmony on our island, Ireland should avoid giving the same impression.

Pauline Bleach

Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia

Amid the politics, human cost has been forgotten

While I watch the comedy that has become Westminster, there is a human cost to Brexit – and one those who obstruct or obfuscate are either blind to or don’t care about.

A large percentage of European doctors and medical staff who work in the NHS have indicated that if there is a no-deal Brexit they will return to their own countries – this on top of the fact there are more than 100,000 vacancies in the NHS that cannot be filled because of the uncertainty over what’s happening.

There are more than 476,000 people who work in the agri-sector in the UK and quite a number of those are seasonal or part-time workers from EU countries.

It produces less than 60pc of what it eats. It exports its products to 450 million customers in the EU. It also receives £3.3bn (€3.84bn) in subsidies from the EU. The imposition of tariffs and border checks will wipe this sector out.

More than 800,000 people are employed in the automotive sector and, with delays at borders in a no-deal scenario, the consequences for people’s lives will be unimaginable. Again, border checks and tariffs on imports to the UK will all but decimate this industry.

The Bank of England warned the cost to the British economy since the 2016 referendum is £40bn (€46.5bn) a year, or £800m (€930m) per week, and that the UK economy has lost 2pc of GDP – twice what the Leave campaign predicted. Investment in Britain dropped by 3.7pc in 2018, while each household lost between £900 (€1,050) and £1,500 (€1,747).

The figures are startling but this is the reality of where the UK stands. Who among the naysayers or Brexiteers will have the courage of their convictions to go back to the people of the UK and say “Don’t worry, it’s better we have no deal and crash out than the one presented by Mrs May and agreed by the EU”?

Sadly, we have seen politics and sovereignty versus pragmatism and reality. But the reality for those in the UK, whether citizens or workers from the EU, is quite stark.

A quote from JRR Tolkien from the ‘Lord of the Rings’: “He knew all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point; the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.”

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Ignore disgusting ranting of extreme nationalists

I expect a basic level of decency from members of the Dáil.

Mary Lou McDonald’s decision to be associated with the ‘England get out of Ireland’ banner is beyond belief and should be held in absolute contempt by everybody living in Ireland.

My wife is English and has lived most of her life in Ireland. She has raised two children, both proud of being Irish while at the same time having a deep regard for their English heritage. In the time my wife has lived in Ireland, she has found people to be kind and welcoming.

Our message to our family members and friends in England is to please ignore the disgusting ranting of extreme nationalists, both in England and Ireland. There are many, many decent people in Ireland who will continue to welcome English people to our country.

Lawrence O’Neill

Maryborough Woods, Douglas, Co Cork

Pacelli wasn’t a bad man – but gave credit to Hitler

Tom Wall’s comments about my biography of Pius XII, ‘Hitler’s Pope’, overlook the fact my title has less to do with Pius’s conduct during World War II and more to do with his diplomacy, along with Pius XI, in 1933.

As Cardinal Pacelli, the man who became the wartime pope, he negotiated a treaty directly with Hitler which agreed Catholics in Germany should drop all social and political action in exchange for protection of Catholic worship.

At the same time, he prompted the Catholic Centre Party to vote for the Enabling Act which gave Hitler his dictatorship, and further urged the party to disband itself voluntarily.

This treaty demoralised Catholic opposition, scandalised the youth and gave Hitler credit internationally.

Pacelli was not a bad man, and not a Nazi sympathiser, but his diplomacy was catastrophic, and it was for this reason my book was entitled ‘Hitler’s Pope’.

As for his wartime initiatives, it may well be that he was involved in a plot to depose Hitler (I devote an entire chapter to this in my book), and efforts to save Jews. But praising him for such acts is like congratulating an arsonist for secretly calling the fire brigade after setting light to the house.

John Cornwell

Address with editor

Cracked Breggsit has scrambled our brains

The whole Brexit saga is becoming something of a Humpty Dumpty affair.

Are we in for a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit? A Brexit with a long extension or short extension? A Brexit that may need lengthening or extending or a Brexit with or without a happy ending?

Actually, it’s becoming very clear Brexit needs a large dose of Viagra, for it seems it is impotent, like a scrambled badly boiled egg, neither soft nor hard. A horribly charred and badly beaten egg.

Then there’s the backstop aspect of Brexit, with or without a soft Irish Border or hard Irish Border.

Brexit, whether soft or hard, shortened or extended or otherwise, will never satisfy the DUP, Tories, House of Commons, Corbyn et al or the EU.

Brexit is like Humpty Dumpty: All the queen’s and Leo’s and Mrs May’s horses and all the EU’s men can never dream to be sure to put a soft or hard-boiled scrambled Brexit Humpty Dumpty egg together again.

Paul Horan

Trinity College Dublin

Tinkering is not enough to save the Irish Church

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has identified a crisis of faith in the Catholic Church, but his suggestions for remedying it lack vision, says Michael Kelly (Comment, March 20).

While there are still committed Catholics remaining, he should call a Synod of the Archdiocese of Dublin, at which this crisis would be discussed so agreed courses of action emerge.

The agenda should include the opening of all ministries and governances to women, the involvement of all Catholics in the election of their bishops, voluntary priestly celibacy and the democratisation of Church structures.

Tinkering around the edges of existing clerical structures will do little to confront this crisis of faith. What we need is a new Church that will attract all to the relevancy of the Gospel message.

Brendan Butler

Malahide, Co Dublin

Francis needs to give credit where it’s due

Neil Francis wrote that the biggest winners in Cardiff were the poncho salesmen and the Irish provinces, in that order.

Ahem. Wales and Warren Gatland had just convincingly won their third Grand Slam in 12 years. Neil is consistent, unfortunately.

Willie O Connor

Mountmellick, Co Laois

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