Democracy must precede tribal bias against protocol

Much has been made of the fact that nationalist and unionist parties each secured 40 per cent of the vote and 70 seats in the Northern Ireland general election, while the Alliance, the Greens, the Independents and People Before Profit secured the remaining 20 per cent of the vote and 20 seats reached .

For possibly more immediate relevance, the pro-Northern Ireland Protocol parties garnered 56.1 per cent of the vote, almost double the outright anti-Protocol DUP and TUV at 28.9 per cent. (I have excluded the UUP here as they refused to take part in anti-protocol rallies and advocated practical reforms of the protocol to reduce trade tensions – a position shared by all pro-protocol parties).

Interestingly, the 56 percent pro-protocol vote is exactly the same as the North’s Remain vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Anti-protocol parties have insisted that there is a lack of cross-community agreement, but exactly the same is true of Brexit, which they pursued anyway and of which Protocol is a part. And if Brexit is to be accepted as a British decision, then so is the protocol. Furthermore, the DUP only seems to require cross-community consent if it is the one who wants to block something.

When a large majority of people in Northern Ireland opposed Brexit, the DUP ignored them.

Pro-protocol parties will have a two-to-one majority of 53-26 in the assembly scheduled to vote on the protocol in 2024 and every five years thereafter.

Why don’t the anti-protocol parties accept the democratic verdict of the electorate and future parliamentary votes? Or is this a tribal rather than a democratic issue?

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, County Wicklow

The true story of North’s election is the dramatic rise of the alliance

Sinn Féin became the largest party but failed to win a single new seat. The umpteen flavors of unionists are sulky and don’t want to play. In short, little has changed for those who did nothing at Stormont, beyond lining their own pockets with everyone else’s money for decades.

Mythical border interrogations and all sorts of fanfare are said loudly to avoid the elephant in the Alliance Party hall doubling its seats to 17 at the expense of everyone else. The horrified look of Sinn Féin and DUP supporters at every Alliance victory said it all – they know the clock is ticking. Northern Ireland is changing, but not quite in the way sensationalist headline writers would like it to be. No other party has ever bridged the sectarian divide in such a devastating way.

This is the true story of Stormont 2022 – the fanatics are on the way out, a new generation wants new ideas not old results.

Mark Boyle

Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland

The abortion debate raises questions about the suppression of freedom of expression

Suzanne Abdalla quote: “It’s been hard living in a world where ending human lives is seen as a good solution to women’s problems” (“Rifts appear as Roe v Wade leak sends societal shockwave”, Irish IndependentMay 5) really sums up the abortion issue.

The same article referred to the consequences of the lack of abortion services on “low-income women”. Is there anything sadder than the suggestion that the only solution to this is to help kill their babies? How could this be acceptable in a supposedly caring and compassionate society? How can the figure of over 63 million babies killed by abortion since Roe-v-Wade be completely ignored?

On the same subject, your editorial criticizes the location of the planned maternity hospital: “Many fear that women’s rights could be curtailed if there is religious influence”.

What progress we have made when we are encouraged to ignore any religious contribution to a matter of life or death. Although abortion is primarily a violation of the first and most important human right, the right to life, the right to freedom of religion is paramount. Is it now really the case that it will follow the lack of freedom of expression in our society and the silence and breaking off of all discussions that are not considered awake or liberal?

Mary Steward

Ardeskin, Donegal town

Hope for humanity – even when the odds are against us

Sometimes the underdog wins and it’s an inspiration to all of us. With the long odds of Rich Strike winning the 148th Kentucky Derby, we see a winner for the rest of us.

Maybe we should be looking for the long shots we all need, a cure for Covid, peace in Ukraine, honest politicians and in general a better life for everyone – but they probably stand a better chance than the horse.

Keep fighting for the good things because eventually, against all odds, we will all win.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Box Hill, Melbourne, Australia Democracy must precede tribal bias against protocol

Fry Electronics Team

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