Lord Morrow should remember that unionists and militant republicans were on the same side against past deals

A letter from John Cushnahan:

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 3:10 pm
Ian Paisley at the anti Anglo Irish rally in Belfast in 1985. John Cushnahan writes: "Unionism joined loyalist paramilitaries to oppose it. Sinn Fein/IRA also opposed the deal so once again the DUP and militant republicanism were on the same side"

In his recent statement, Lord Morrow, Chairman of the DUP, claimed that compared to the 1974 Workers Council Strike and the 1985 loyalist protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the current unionist protests were of “equal seriousness” (‘Situation is serious as the 1974 strike or the Anglo-Irish crisis,’ April 10, see link below).

He went on to claim that the authorities have continued to “show total and absolute capitulation to the demands of militant republicanism”. He then stated that the mass loyalist protests in 1985 were responsible for the scrapping of the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

I would like to remind Lord Morrow of the true accurate facts of all these events.

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Letter to the editor

The 1974 Sunningdale Power Sharing Executive was the product of negotiations and discussions between the UK and Republic of Ireland sovereign Governments, the then leader of political unionism, Brian Faulkner, the leader of the SDLP, Gerry Fitt, and the leader of the Alliance Party, Oliver Napier and their party colleagues.

The executive was brought down by the unconstitutional strike led by loyalist paramilitaries in co-operation with the Ulster Unionist Coalition led by DUP leader Ian Paisley, Vanguard leader, Bill Craig and Harry West of the Ulster Unionist Party. Because the IRA were also opposed to the Sunningdale Agreement they also escalated their campaign of terror during this crisis. Therefore, militant republicanism was on the same side of the argument as unionist extremism.

In 1985, the Anglo-Irish Agreement was the product of two sovereign and democratically elected British and Irish Governments. All shades of unionism joined with loyalist paramilitaries to oppose it and there were indeed massive loyalist protests. Sinn Fein/IRA also opposed the agreement so once again the DUP and militant republicanism were on the same side.

Lord Morrow is wrong in stating that it was scrapped because of loyalist protests.

It was replaced by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which was courageously supported by Ulster Unionist Leader, David Trimble who agreed to share power with the SDLP.

Because of his decision, Trimble faced vile abuse from Ian Paisley and the DUP, who opposed the Good Friday Agreement. However less than ten years later in May 2007, Paisley would agree to share power with former IRA Commander and therefore leader of militant republicanism, Martin Mc Guinness.

The primary cause of recent events which has led to street protests has been the Northern Ireland Protocol. This is not the consequence of demands of militant republicanism.

It is the product of negotiations between 27 democratic EU governments and the UK government designed to maintain NI access not only to the UK market but to the EU Single Market.

Unfortunately, there has been some teething problems arising from this which EU and UK negotiating teams are currently trying to sort out.

The tragic consequence of all three crises is that the PSNI and its predecessor the RUC were forced to put their lives and personal safety on the line in the face of vicious violence in attempting to maintain the peace arising from the irresponsible language and behaviour of extremists on both sides of the divide.

Lord Morrow and his unionist colleagues should cease their undermining of the Chief Constable. It was the DPP not the Chief Constable who decided not to prosecute Sinn Fein members in relation to the Bobby Storey funeral.

Like many people throughout the island of Ireland I wish there had have been a different conclusion.

All political parties including the DUP should be united in calling for a cessation of all protests and end to violence before another life is lost in Northern Ireland violence.

John Cushnahan, Ex Leader of Alliance Party & ex Fine Gael MEP. Co Limerick

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