Local reaction

The Belfast Telegraph letters page has long been colonised by Unionist correspondents who feel bitterly let down that Sinn Fein were ever let into government. Yesterday however, several pro-Agreement or even ambivalent voices, for the most part took the floor. However the tone seems unrelentingly dark.

Wes Holmes suggests that there is a vicious circle at work within Unionism, that it seems helpless to get out of:

“The strategy [behind the UUC’s decision], undoubtedly, is to save the party from electoral humiliation. Political analysts have anticipated this ruse for a year or more. The breathtaking hypocrisy of the council’s decision confirmed (what many have long believed) that civic unionism is a myth. The party is unsustainable without sectarian division. Ultimately any moves in the direction of partnership flounder.”

“Terence O’Neill’s reforms were foiled by Faulkner whose compromises were in turn undermined by Bill Craig, David Trimble and others. The wheel now seems to have turned full circle with Trimble being thwarted by the most recent manifestation of the right wing of the party led by Jeffrey Donaldson.”

Roy Garland produces six benefits of the Agreement, he believes is now in danger. He finishes with words from a surprising quarter, Edward Carson, founding father of Ulster Unionism and James Craig the first Unionist Prime Minister of Northern Ireland:

“Carson called on us to display tolerance, fairness and justice ‘towards all classes and towards all religions’ while Craig said unionists were ‘prepared to work for the betterment of the people of Ireland, not to quarrel, not to continue political strife’.”

Michael J Haslett, wants all politicians brought to book for rampant inconsistency.

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