The DUP will have to be responsible for leading unionism through this crisis

A letter from Mr RG McDowell:

By Letters
Monday, 1st February 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 11:49 am
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

There is a lot of debate within unionism about how to oppose the Irish Sea border.

Personally I don’t think its fair to blame the DUP for the border itself as it was reasonable to assume that no government elected on a platform of restoring sovereignty would put a border down the middle of their own country.

What the DUP will have to be responsible for however is how to lead unionism through this crisis and while I don’t envy the burden on the shoulders of DUP leaders it is notable based on the comments from Louise Haigh MP and Simon Hoare MP on BBC NI Sunday Politics (January 31) that English MPs look at a functioning Stormont executive as a short hand to mean that Northern Ireland is sorted.

It isn’t the DUP’s fault that so many MPs have a lazy and disinterested view of NI but it is their problem. It seems clear to me from the contributions of Ms Haigh and Mr Hoare that only the frustration and potential collapse of the Stormont power sharing structures will put unionist concerns back on the Westminster agenda.

Some unionists may see this as an undesirable option and in many ways it is but it is quite simply the only piece on the chess board which unionism has any control over.

Unionists might even find that Alliance and some of the smaller parties which have built up in recent years through the platform of the NI assembly become potentially better allies with more sympathy towards unionist concerns on this issue if they feel they are going lose their main forum for participating in NI politics.

It will be hard for these parties to keep growing if the focus returns to Westminster.

Mr RG McDowell, Belfast BT5

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