Northern Ireland – time for leadership


Sir, – Stephen Collins (“Border poll talk fails to take account of loyalist anger”, Opinion & Analysis, April 9th), commenting on the loyalist violence over the past number of nights, calls for nationalist politicians and commentators to disengage from discussions on a future border poll, which was provided for under the Belfast Agreement.

Civil society in the North must never again acquiesce to public displays of tribal territoriality, domination, or sectarian bile. Sectarian street protests must never again be allowed to dictate and intimidate elected public representatives.

For society to surrender to threats and intimidation from violent bullies is tantamount to permitting the state to be governed according to the principles of sectarian mob rule. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Your editorial is right that there has been an “abject failure of many unionist and loyalist leaders to take responsibility and show the leadership this difficult moment demands” in response to the recent outbreak of street violence (“The Irish Times view on violence in Northern Ireland: a time to show leadership”, April 6th).

More than anything, however, the onus lies squarely on the British government to honestly spell out to loyalists the harsh realities of Boris Johnson’s preferred form of Brexit.

As the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long clearly explains: “We have to recognise, and this is fundamental, that when we decided that Brexit was the way forward, and when we chose a particularly hard Brexit, that there would be consequences. And those consequences would be felt most acutely in Northern Ireland”.

The UK government should start by acknowledging that the newly imposed barriers to GB-NI trade are basically caused by Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

The NI protocol is not the problem. The protocol is merely the means by which Brussels has tried to help the UK deal with the dilemmas recklessly created by Mr Johnson’s very hard Brexit. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Pat Leahy rightly points out that any efforts by the two guarantors of the Belfast Agreement (Westminster and Dublin) to resolve the present conflict in Northern Ireland will be futile unless the work of reconciliation is done on the ground (“‘Unionism is in turmoil’: Worry in Dublin as North threatens to regress”, Analysis, April 9th).

The current behaviour, engaged in by both communities, gives little sign of this happening. It also raises questions as to the success of the Belfast Agreement. Peace is more than the absence of violence. It could be argued that the Belfast Agreement did not lead to a “peace process” but, rather, to a “power-grab process” on the part of the two extreme political parties which now exercise that power without any real sharing or meeting of minds. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

Sir, – Bring on the border poll. I, for one, will be voting No. – Yours, etc,



Co Leitrim.

Sir, – I noticed the photographic coverage of the attacks on the PSNI on all the front pages of the Irish print media. The complete absence of this was particularly noticeable on the front pages of the UK press. I would expect that should there have been similar attacks on the police forces of Bristol, York or Liverpool, the front pages of the British media would have had full front-page photos of the events.

The British media clearly believes that the British people of mainland Britain have no interest in or concern for the British citizens of Northern Ireland. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.