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A Chara,- David Trimble writes "the Northern Ireland protocol ignores the fundamental principle of consent. Northern Ireland is no longer fully part of the UK" (David Trimble: Tear up the Northern Ireland protocol to save the Belfast Agreement, Opinion & Analysis, 20th. February) and Alex Kane argues that he "can't remember a moment when unionism has been so unsettled " (Unsettled unionists caught in perfect storm, Opinion & Analysis, 22nd. February)

The DUP had a glorious opportunity after the Brexit vote to take on the leadership of both communities in N. Ireland and accept the decision of the 56% who voted remain. They could have negotiated on behalf of the large majority to secure a future in both the UK and the EU. Instead, they chose to go a narrow sectarian route and tried to impose a hard border within the island of Ireland just to spite their nationalist neighbours.

It never occurred to them that Ireland, as part of the EU, would have the negotiating clout to prevent that from happening.

And now they have the gall to argue there is a lack of consent to the protocol when it was negotiated on their behalf by their conservative "partners" in the UK government after they had thrice rejected Theresa May's deal which required no such N. Ireland protocol.

They also have the gall to ignore the fact that article 18 of the protocol requires the N. Ireland assembly to approve the continued operation of the protocol on a regular basis. Apparently "consent" for unionists means not consent by 56% of the electorate or consent by a majority of the Assembly. It means consent by and for Unionists only.

But that is not what the Good Friday Agreement, negotiated by David Trimble, says: It requires just a 50%+1 majority to transfer sovereignty in total over N. Ireland from Britain to Ireland.

Unionists should be happy to still have "the best of both worlds," continued membership of the United Kingdom and relatively free access to both the EU and UK markets, but of course Unionists are only happy when they can lord it over nationalists and claim to be the victims at the same time.

They have overplayed their hand before, and if they do so again, they could find the British government washing their hands of them completely. Just wait for the wailing and gnashing of teeth then. It appears Sophocles had a point when he wrote: "Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad" (Antigone)

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 22nd, 2021 at 05:45:38 PM EST

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