Monday, 8 March 2010

If national parties can't intervene in Northern Ireland, then we have been consigned to second class citizenship.

In this morning's Belfast Telegraph I make a rather belated intervention in the debate about Conservative involvement in Northern Ireland. This is a response to the hoopla which graced comment pages in the Times and the Guardian a few weeks ago. The gist, however, certainly remains relevant.

Shadow Secretary of State Owen Paterson has reacted with annoyance to Labour attacks on the Tories' involvement in Northern Ireland politics.

His exasperation is understandable. The current Government took Britain to war in order to impose its favoured system of government on distant parts of the globe.

Yet Labour implies that the Conservatives have overstepped their mark by expressing an opinion on the system of devolution employed in a region of the United Kingdom.


I continue:

Admittedly, the Hatfield House talks, hosted by Conservatives and purportedly touching upon the controversial topic of 'unionist unity', contributed to the current wave of anxiety. Particularly as they foreshadowed the umpteenth crisis at Stormont and yet another intervention in the 'peace process' by the Prime Minister.

The UK Government certainly needs to stand above zero-sum, cultural tugs-o'-war which attend issues like parading and the Irish language. However, to argue that it should not be permitted to select our representatives as ministers, or promote Northern Ireland's place within the Union, is dangerous humbug.

The constitutional preference of a clear majority here remains membership of the United Kingdom and, unless that status is accompanied by political entitlements, taken for granted in the rest of Britain, then people in Northern Ireland are effectively being condemned to a form of second class citizenship.

To contend that power-sharing is too fragile to permit voters to choose their national government makes a nonsense of the principle of consent, which is supposed to underpin the Belfast Agreement. Whatever we might mean when we refer to the 'peace process' it is surely not supposed to prevent us playing a full role at Westminster.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/-14710809.html#ixzz0hZeznEUI

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Presumably then you will be appalled by a UUP MLA telling the Secretary of State to butt out of Northern Ireland matters?

Gary said...

Anon did he say butt out of "Northern Ireland" affairs? Or did he say butt out of our (UUP) affairs?

Anonymous said...

He said butt out of Ulster politics and said that Woodward was a "turn-coat Tory" out to scupper UCUNF.

That is disgraceful.

rutherford said...

Which MLA was it?

To contend that power-sharing is too fragile to permit voters to choose their national government makes a nonsense of the principle of consent, which is supposed to underpin the Belfast Agreement.

Agreed, there is a dangerous undercurrent of contempt amongst the NIO-inspired glitterati for real real politics and it would be nice if they would be kind enough to remove their crutch for (both Ulster & Irish) nationalism here.

O'Neill said...

Anonymous,

Do you have a link for where he said "butt out of Ulster politics"?

The BBC quoting him directly says:
"butt out of our affairs"...
Here's the link for that one:http://tinyurl.com/yh97jth

Re insulting Woodward, well, he is a turncoat Tory. Probably even a wideboy liberalista.

Ulster Liberal said...

I think Labour aligning themselves with an ultra-conservative, right wing Nationalistic party in the SDLP during the Troubles, when a genuine UK party trying to attract both working class Catholics and working class Protestants in equal measure could have done wonders for community relations, was a tragedy.

Gary said...

Yes Anon please could I have that link, for the quote O'Neill posted is the one I read........