Sunday 18 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Compromise on the backstop would solve nothing now'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: North West Newspix
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: North West Newspix
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The core weakness of Leo Varadkar’s position is that a no-deal Brexit would create a hard customs Border with Northern Ireland – precisely the outcome his insistence on the backstop is designed to avoid.

Consequently, there are increasing calls from Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley and in the media for Mr Varadkar to back down from his insistence on the backstop in order to enable the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons. In my view there are at least four flaws in this argument:

1. It is becoming increasingly clear even removing the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement entirely wouldn’t guarantee its passage through the House of Commons. Hardline Brexiteers actually seem to want a no-deal Brexit.

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2. The EU has staked its entire position and credibility on avoiding a hard customs Border in Ireland (which they know would be a smugglers’ paradise in any case). For Mr Varadkar to cave on this now would be like a stab in the back, undermining perhaps the most impressive display of EU solidarity in its history. He would lose all credibility with his EU peers were he to let them down now.

3. Although there are isolated calls for compromise now, the moment Mr Varadkar concedes he and his party are consigned to electoral history. Fine Gael has never quite recovered from perceptions of being soft on patriotism by agreeing to the partition of Ireland as part of the 1922 peace settlement with Great Britain in the first place. This caused a civil war and an enduring split in Irish politics. To cave in to British bluff and bluster would be a national humiliation and would give Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin the boost they badly need.

4. Compromising on the backstop would be seen as a betrayal of the people of Northern Ireland, who have benefited from border-less travel and trade with the Republic since the Good Friday Agreement and who voted by a large majority against Brexit. Many in the North (and not just nationalists) are also Irish citizens and would lose the EU dimension of that citizenship and the protections of their identity in the Good Friday Agreement if the backstop is dropped.

The bottom line: We are where we are, and there is no going back.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

We need fact-based media, not propaganda

The Australian government has been paralysed for around eight to 10 years, fighting over far-right conservative issues such as migration, Islam, African gangs, same-sex marriage, religious freedom and the freedom to be a bigot.

In Ireland, we have the same conservative fears and angers, but “treating all her children equally” means a sense of belonging worth more than a trillion dollars in keeping Ireland safe from extremists of all stripes.

Such arguments are facilitated by Rupert Murdoch’s news media, which provides the bulk of the news people consume in Australia, at the expense of real issues such as the fact people cannot afford to live on their wages.

Australia is grinding to a slow halt. Britain has Brexit and Boris Johnson. The US has Trump. The media should be independent. But it should be fact-based.

Pauline Bleach

Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia

Stop printing stupid anti-Trump comments

I find your ‘Washington Post’ commentator Jennifer Rubin’s comments after the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas disgusting.

She uses the despicable and evil acts of gunmen killing innocent people to attack Donald Trump. She called his speech insincere and said he was racist when Mr Trump clearly states in his speech that “in one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy”.

Your anti-Trump commentary is getting very boring and tiresome now. I am all for free speech and freedom of the press but I really think the Irish Independent should consider not printing these divisive and stupid comments from the ‘Washington Post’ again. The ‘Washington Post’ clearly has an agenda against the president.

Daire McWey

Portlaoise, Co Laois

We must hope hate-filled re-election bid backfires

Your editorial is correct – “If he (President Trump) is sincere, he need only exercise his executive powers to assert the constitutional right to bear arms ceases to take precedence over the right to live.”

As a leader he must be held responsible for the corrosive social effects of his deliberate inflammatory speech attacking minority groups in a deeply divided society.

Using the race card in Trump’s bid for a second presidential term hopefully will backfire against him as decent Americans refuse to respond to such hate-filled speech.

Brendan Butler

Malahide, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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