In an open letter to the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, in the Belfast Telegraph the UUP MLA Dermot Nesbitt takes him to task over his recent speech at the British Irish Association at Oxford.. and, no doubt with certain recent announcements in mind [but not necessarily others – Ed], echoes previous criticism from Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, on the dubious ethics of the government’s approachFrom Dermot Nesbitt’s open letter, in the Belfast Telegraph
You mentioned some things that should relieve this insecurity such as: the “principle of consent” and “the physical force tradition in mainstream republicanism has, belatedly, come to an end”.
You admitted that assurances “from British Secretaries of State have a tendency to be counter productive”.
You’re right and I’ll tell you why: I am not insecure about my own unionist position within modern liberal democratic values, but I do have a concern that you, on behalf of the Government, lack a clear moral and political compass when it comes to Northern Ireland, since you do not follow democratic standards.
And he restates the requirement on SF of the endorsement of policing..
The right of Sinn Fein to be in government carries with it, by way of international standards, the responsibility to demonstrate absolute commitment to democratic values.
This requires acceptance of the legitimacy and authority of the state, including its police. Acceptance now, not at some vague future date, and not at the price of sacrifice of principle and betrayal of promise.
Let me be positive. Our problem is solvable but what threatens to make it unsolvable is for you to still believe that Northern Ireland is unique (though you imply otherwise) and that the problem can be tackled only by advocating a fudge concerning international democratic standards.
I fully understand people’s deep disillusionment with politics reflected by issues like rates and water charges. But these issues reflect symptoms and are not the cause of our problem – the lack of local democratic accountability.