Donaldson right to dismiss Eastwood’s joint proposal idea

Morning View
Morning View

Jeffrey Donaldson has responded unambiguously to the proposal from Colum Eastwood that Dublin publish proposals for breaking the talks deadline.

The DUP MP for Lagan Valley said that his party “would not countenance” proposals from the Irish government on how to move forward politically in Northern Ireland, as the SDLP leader Mr Eastwood had suggested they produce in tandem with the British governments.

Such proposals are where the endless references to the “two governments” typically lead: the suggestion that there might be “joint stewardship” of Northern Ireland, perhaps even joint authority.

The latter was mooted by Tina McKenzie, a businesswoman who was once the MEP candidate for NI21, a party that was set up to be moderately unionist in outlook.

Mr Donaldson’s immediate dismissal of Mr Eastwood’s plan is welcome, specifically the point that talks would end if it happened. The Irish government, among many unhelpful interventions, recently reiterated what it said is its long-standing demand for a standalone Irish language act.

It is increasingly clear that no such act will get any unionist support, with opposition among the full range of opinion, from Trevor Ringland to the UUP to DUP leaders to the TUV.

Sinn Fein is wholly to blame for the impasse, and wholly to blame for the hardening of feeling against Irish legislation.

No new act, whatever it is called, can come into being if it involves large and wasteful and unnecessary translations, any designation that puts Irish on a par with English (which it plainly is not), widespread changes to road signs, any public sector quota whatsoever or any compulsion on schools to provide Irish (let alone forcing pupils to study it).

It has been helpful for the whole of Northern Ireland to have months to see Sinn Fein’s tactics with regard to Irish.

The next political battle is to ensure that an Irish language act or anything that has the same impact is not brought in by a direct rule government, in a bid to placate Sinn Fein.