The NI Protocol and unionism


Sir, – In theiropinion piece of September 27th, Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister state that as “leaders of unionist parties in Northern Ireland we represent 71 per cent of all those who voted unionist at the last general election”.

Is that the most inventive means ever devised by our political leaders to tell us that they actually received 30.6 per cent of the total vote? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister tell us that the status of Northern Ireland should not be changed without the consent of the majority of its people.

Brexit, which was opposed by a majority in Northern Ireland, does change its status. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – It is difficult to make sense of the protestations of Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister. It is the British government – not the Irish Government – which is imposing a border in the Irish Sea.

Boris Johnson has the authority to pursue a hard Brexit and to reinstate the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but he chooses not to do so, and I for one am not surprised.

He will have noted that the people of Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, and it is a reasonable assumption that most of them will welcome the opportunity to continue to trade with both the EU and Great Britain.

He will also be aware that the Irish sea border allows him to secure a trade deal with the EU and possibly with the United States. He will have observed in Westminster the enthusiastic support of the DUP for Brexit when they mistakenly believed it would result in reinstating the border.

In such circumstances, why would any British prime minister be persuaded by Mr Donaldson or Mr Allister!



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Why are the unionists getting so much print space in The Irish Times on Brexit and the Northern Irish Protocol? Is it because the British press and government are not in the slightest bit interested? – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – I see that you have given considerable space to the DUP and TUV to have a tantrum about Brexit, democracy, and the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

What can any reasonable person do to respond other than roll their eyes and tell them that if you play stupid games, you get stupid prizes.

Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, but the DUP rubbed its hands together with glee and and strove to get the hardest possible Brexit implemented in contravention of the democratic choice of the Northern Irish electorate (despite the probable difficulties being pointed out from before the referendum). The Belfast Agreement was democratically voted on and outlawed a hard border on the island of Ireland but the DUP and TUV do not accept this.

Either they want democracy or they don’t, you can’t cherry-pick, and then when you don’t get your way complain that everyone else is the problem. A little self-reflection is in order. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I note it is reported that George Eustice, the UK minister for the environment, has stated (News, September 22nd) that applying the NI Protocol, in a US context, would prevent potatoes grown in one part of the United States from being sold in another part of the United States. Leaving aside the fact that there are some restrictions on intra-state trade between certain states in the US, Mr Eustace’s simple analogy ignores the unique status of Northern Ireland regarding the other constituent parts of the UK. Not unlike Schrödinger’s cat, Northern Ireland is simultaneously part of the UK, which is outside the single market, but yet remains within the single market for trade purposes. The Northern Ireland Protocol was designed to deal with this conundrum and requires imagination, flexibility but, above all, goodwill by all parties to make the protocol work. Sadly, it would appear Mr Eustace does not possess any of these attributes. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol might be better focused if the word Brexit was inserted into in. Otherwise one could be forgiven for thinking that it was some free-standing dastardly plot against Northern Ireland, as opposed to a direct and predictable consequence of Brexit. This, incidentally, is a price that the English voter is happy to pay.

Since Northern Ireland, by contrast, was pulled out of the EU against its electoral will, a mitigated or soft Brexit would have been the logical objective. However when the rescue ship that was Theresa May’s deal surfaced, the DUP, fuelled by a lethal cocktail of hubris and incompetence, torpedoed it. That went well.

I suppose you could call it the DUP protocol but that might be a bit unkind. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.