Brexit hopes and fears

 

Sir, – Fr Aidan Troy’s “visceral” anxiety about Brexit (Freya McClements, Home News, April 13th) is a both a reminder and a timely warning.

Recalling the “absolute breakdown in community relations” in Ardoyne in 2001 (three years after the Belfast Agreement), he warns how quickly things “could go back”. He points to some of the consequences of Brexit – a “damaged Belfast Agreement”, exacerbated by the “continued lack of a devolved government at Stormont”, and the absence of the NI Assembly (both key institutions of the agreement).

We could add in the increased polarisation and distrust, the tangible fears and anxieties for the future, the lack of responsible political leadership, and the exploitation of the issue by some populists and extremists. This situation simply cannot continue.

At a time of such crisis it cannot be right that there is no functioning forum in Northern Ireland where the future of the people of Northern Ireland (the “crucial players in Brexit”) – and indeed the future of the whole peace and reconciliation process on this island — can be fully and openly discussed, and the issues argued and debated.

There is an urgent need now for the two governments – and the political parties in Northern Ireland — to redouble their efforts to restore those institutions, and to live up to their responsibilities “to be guardians of each other’s rights”. And there is a need for all of us, in Northern Ireland and the Republic, to make our voices heard.

While tributes are rightly paid to the governments, political parties and civil servants involved in bringing about the Agreement, it must be remembered that it could not have happened without the pressure, courage, good will and active involvement from all sections of civic society.

That Agreement was a hard-won compromise, it required sacrifices from all sides (particularly from those who had directly suffered), and it had many imperfections, but it did deliver peace and real improvements on the ground, it offered hope to so many and it has enabled the positive transformation of relationships on the island. To echo Fr Troy, Northern Ireland became a “shining light for the world in terms of peace”.

Let us ensure that continues and that no more damage is done — reform the institutions by all means but get back in there and enable the voices of the people to be heard. – Yours, etc,

JULITTA CLANCY,

Meath Peace Group,

Batterstown, Co Meath.

Sir, – Brexit continues to go from pillar to post, from rock to vicious circle, unable to gain UK parliamentary agreement. Light has appeared at the end of an arduous tunnel though, in the form of a possible UK/EU customs union agreement.

First though, the withdrawal agreement has to be signed off. Are we now moving away from the event horizon of the Brexit black hole, the no deal scenario, into an unknown universe. Only lateral time will tell and a few last kicks of the proverbial can and its gravitational influence await. – Yours, etc,

JIM DWAN,

Newcastle,

Co Dublin.