The plan to legislate specially at Westminster for Sinn Fein’s Irish language demand is disastrous precedent

News Letter editorial of Wednesday October 6 2021:

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 7:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 7:32 am
News Letter editorial

The DUP has been saying the right things this week on the Irish Sea border at the Tory conference.

The DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has in Manchester been at the helm of the joint unionist repudiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

There can be no doubt in London that the internal barrier between the province and Great Britain is unacceptable to the full spectrum of unionism, even though some enemies of unionism are hoping that liberal unionists will in fact embrace the protocol.

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The DUP’s firm position of recent days contrasts with a turbulent period earlier this year, in which it talked tough on the Irish Sea border but seemed to do little about it beyond adopting supposedly strong, but confusing, positions against implementing the internal UK frontier and north-south work.

Now it has, belatedly but rightly, taken a real stand against north-south continuing as normal while east-west is trashed.

Unfortunately though, we are still grappling with the legacy of two badly flawed DUP decisions.

The first was agreeing to an Irish language act, albeit concealed by its description as cultural protection, and so rewarding Sinn Fein blackmail of collapsing Stormont for three years.

Stormont crises should never again be met with negotiation. Such negotiations lead to a slight gain for republican demands which, over time, accumulate to become large.

You can bet that republican strategists are thinking of the next demands that they can use to topple Stormont.

As if the New Decade New Approach deal was not bad enough, SF threatened not to nominate a deputy first minister when the DUP changed leader. Edwin Poots and Brandon Lewis came up with a scheme to get republicans their cherished Irish language dream of a commissioner, who will be used to impose Irish in Northern Ireland, including in places where it is not wanted.

The idea of legislating via Westminster to placate the SF nomination threat has, as Jim Allister says, left a “disastrous legacy” and set an appalling precedent.

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