The Ulster Unionist Party have already conceded defeat on the NI Protocol

A letter from Kirk McDowell:

By Letters
Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:08 pm
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 5:18 pm
Unionists can collapse Stormont which would have major ramifications for parties which back the protocol
Unionists can collapse Stormont which would have major ramifications for parties which back the protocol

In his statement (‘Pulling down Stormont would be another huge mistake by unionism,’ November 17, see link below), Danny Kennedy outlines the Ulster Unionist Party’s current position on the NI Protocol.

However his assessment is based on two misguided premises.

First, Mr Kennedy crudely compares the potential collapse of the current assembly to the failed unionist boycott of Westminster, following the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

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Letter to the editor

In 1985 unionists were a powerless minority in Westminster. Their abstention affected no-one. In contrast, the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) are completely dependent on cross-community participation.

Unionists now have the ability to collapse a power-sharing assembly which would have major direct ramifications for all the parties which support the protocol.

The unionist boycott of Westminster drew the attention of no-one. However the GFA (or at least a fictitious interpretation of it) is held in awe by the political establishments of Britain, Eire, America and the EU alike.

These are the very parties which unionism must influence if the protocol is to be removed. If the GFA collapses due to the imposition of the NI protocol, unionists can at least be assured their opposition was noticed in the highest corridors of power.

Mr Kennedy’s second mistaken premise, is that he seems to think that more ‘focus’ in negotiations will reap rewards for Northern Ireland. However, for any negotiation to succeed there must be a desire in all parties to secure a common end goal.

The EU care nothing for the welfare of Northern Ireland. This has been demonstrated with how comfortable they have been in subjecting the province’s population to their laws without any form of democratic representation. Its agenda is simple. Protect their own single market and be seen to have punished the UK for Brexit.

Neither, has the Irish government or the republican movement shown any reason so far. Both have talked up the prospect of a return of violence should the UK even dare to put up as much as a camera within their own sovereign territory.

I would suggest to Mr Kennedy that if his party believes there are still real benefits in continuing to administer devolution then they should make an honest case. But this means ceasing the false pretence that they are a driving force in the opposition to the protocol. The tone of Mr Kennedy’s statement makes it abundantly clear that the Ulster Unionists have already conceded defeat.

Kirk McDowell B.Sc. Belfast BT5

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