In reply to Archibald Toner (‘I would be open to a new Ireland if not for Sinn Fein’, February 8):
Remember currently in Ireland Sinn Féin ranking in the polls stands at 17%.
In a New Ireland it might possibly rise a little but I would imagine with the inevitable dilution of the strong two sided politics that exist at present in Northern Ireland into a broader political arena of a whole Ireland aspect, that a unionist representative voting block would return a party that would equal or at least mitigate any strong influence Sinn Féin might have in a future Ireland.
In a normal political country, those elected represent ALL the electorate, whether they vote for them or not, they try, maybe not always successfully, to do what is best for their country and its people, they don’t just represent their own section of the population.
As a nationalist who lived in Northern Ireland for many years, I knew many nationalists, who while one day hoping for an united Ireland, were content at the status quo, until the DUP became so adamant about denying rights to LGBT people, denying women autonomy over their reproductive rights and dismissing, deriding and denying Irish, a language that belongs to us all regardless of who you are, official recognition.
They saw open and tolerant societies to the east in Britain and to the south in Ireland, yet Northern Ireland was out of step with both of them.
Of course the derogatory and belligerent language that has emanated over the years from some within the DUP have culminated in them feeling very uncomfortable and unwelcome within present day Northern Ireland.
Combine that with the complete disregard that they have had for the majority remain vote and their continuation in representing, wrongly, that Northern Ireland wants to leave the EU, has really disengaged most nationalist from Northern Ireland.
You mention the need for protection against IRA republicans yet loyalists paramilitaries have killed almost as many people since The Good Friday Agreement was signed as republican paramilitaries have.
The public needs protection from both sets of paramilitary organisations. According to a report by Paul Nolan, in a study of paramilitary related deaths since the good Friday/Belfast Agreement (link below) there were 74 killings by republican paramilitaries, 71 By loyalist paramilitaries and a further four by loyalists not attributed to a particular loyalist group, and as was the situation all during the Troubles the highest victim group was within the Catholic civilian community.
That problem is not a one sided one. While you ask who is going to protect us from republican paramilitaries, I ask, who is going to protect us from both sets of paramilitaries.
If you are genuinely considering a New Ireland, and want to get a feeling if what living in Ireland is like, then instead of dwelling on the horrible things we have done to each other here, or had done to us, in the name of one side of another, why don’t you speak to the Protestant population south of the border and anyone of the 300,000 British citizens who have made Ireland their home to get a more reflective picture of what living in Ireland could be like.
Mary Russell, Dundalk