The DUP should not co-operate in any way with Sinn Fein’s Irish language deadline

News Letter editorial of Monday June 20 2021:

Monday, 21st June 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 2:49 pm
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard has said that the party has no “shopping list” for the appointment of a new first minister.

If that means the demand for a date for Irish language laws is dropped, then that is welcome. If however it merely means there is no extra SF demand in addition to the language deadline, then there is no cause to be hopeful. There should be no non negotiable demands at all.

And if SF persist with the language date, then it is up to the secretary of state to make clear that there will be no Westminter satisfaction for republicans.

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Northern Ireland has already endured three years without local government because Theresa May and Boris Johnson refused to do anything about Sinn Fein’s collapse of Stormont until they got an Irish language act.

If the DUP under new leadership tolerates the latest SF premise, then it will set a fresh de-stabilising precedent.

Jim Allister, opposite, makes a plausible case for refusing to nominate at all in that situation.

The Presbyterian moderator’s comment that the Irish language is no threat is almost a non sequitur. Almost no-one thinks the language of itself is a threat. It is the tribal, provocative use of it as a cultural wedge, accompanied by political ultimatums, which is the threat and which meant that “important work” on health and education (to use Dr Bruce’s phrase) was not done for three years.

Republicans already have the huge concession of an Irish Sea border, which Leo Varadkar is again making clear is not going away. He says he will support practical fixes.

There is unionist confusion on this point, with some voices saying that they would accept modifications to the protocol. But fixes just mean that the constitutional damage to the Union remains, but its symptoms are disguised.

Republicans would not accept any constitutional movement at all away from their existing gains of the last 23 years, so no unionist should tolerate any repeal, however partial, of the Act of Union.

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