Letter is a mild yet clear rebuttal of republican claims

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The letter linked to below is from people who describe themselves as civic unionists, but also from people who have other perspectives including socialism (people such as Brian Garrett) and environmentalism (people such as John Barry).

The letter gently challenges a letter that appeared at the end of last year, from around 200 prominent figures in daily life who have a nationalist perspective.

That letter was addressed to Leo Varadkar and it endorsed a republican analysis of the current stalemate in the Stormont talks, pushing the notion that rights in Northern Ireland are repressed by unionists.

It is no surprise that the organisers of this mild riposte to the grievance-mongering approach to Mr Varadkar quickly found 100+ names to say that they too cared about rights.

Lots of people can see what Sinn Fein is up to in its seizure of the word “rights”, and its insertion of the word into almost every political conversation or claim: on gay marriage, on legacy, on the Irish language, on welfare.

The implication is of a Britain that thwarts rights at every turn, rather than the truth of a UK that facilitates rights of all descriptions, often at huge expense.

Today’s letter might be mild but if you read it closely it is a clear rebuttal of the myth making.

A press release accompanying the letter yesterday revealed that a group of non nationalists have been in conversation with republicans and nationalists, and so they are perplexed at the implication (in the approaches to Mr Varadkar) that they do not also have a commitment to rights and reconciliation.

It is good also to see today’s letter slip in the word responsibilities.

One of the must unattractive features of some political discourse is the aggressive demand for rights that never seems to be accompanied by any discussion of duties.

The duty to be straight in political dealings for example, the duty to deliver stable governance too and the duty not to fuel ill will.

Mr Varadkar is said to be meeting the nationalist letter writers. If so, he ought to meet today’s authors too.

For the full text see letters section