St Andrews was an act of vandalism on the Good Friday agreement

Alex Kane has said on a number of occasions that Sinn Fein and the DUP are growing their base because they are reflecting the mood of their respective voters.

Letters to Editor
Letters to Editor

This may be so but it is because of manipulative party political tactics.

The 1998 Belfast Agreement was a strategic gain for unionism as it set Northern Ireland on a course to stabilise itself within the United Kingdom. Voters still needed to be led down the road of consensual politics but that leadership was not there.

The 2006 St Andrews Agreement demonstrated this (as Alex knows) when the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed to appoint the first minister post from the biggest party vote (not community vote as it was before).

This suited the DUP as it herded unionist voters towards their leader becoming first minister (a prestigious yet fictitious role as the first and deputy first minister posts are equal).

Fear was used to round up the votes ‘Keep Arlene No 1’ said the election posters in 2016 or else you will get Martin McGuinness.

However, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, this in the form of nationalist voters being herded into the Sinn Fein pen, so much so that in the 2017 assembly elections SF were only 1,168 votes behind the DUP.

We are now left with a more polarised electorate which actually plays into the republican narrative of a failed Northern Ireland.

It seems to me that Sinn Fein knew what they were doing more than the DUP. The St Andrews Agreement was an act of vandalism on the Good Friday Agreement perpetrated by the DUP and Sinn Fein for electoral gain.

It was politicians that led us to this point not voters.

Thomas Stewart, Belfast BT4