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Leaders' debate treats unionists as UK outsiders

Published 08/04/2015

Your editorial (April 3) bemoans the absence of the DUP from the leaders' TV debate, in spite of the inclusion of those parties with far fewer seats than the DUP that also have only a regional footprint in either Scotland or Wales.

But I think it's time to consider the message that's being publicly conveyed to the people of Northern Ireland by Westminster.

Those clubbable members of swish golf or rugby clubs living in the leafy suburbs of Northern Ireland are being told that they're not a member of the British club. Those that parade to display or pronounce their Britishness are being told that they're not British. Politicians that utter "the Union" with every second breath are being told that they're not really part of the United Kingdom, or a British debate.

Those people watching the leaders' debate from Northern Ireland can be left in no doubt that they are outsiders looking in on a debate from which they were very deliberately excluded.

The time has surely come to plan, instead, to repatriate tax and spending powers to Stormont and to give serious consideration to an independent Northern Ireland within the European Union?

It must be plain for all to see that "the Union" - ie the United Kingdom - is superfluous within the European Union and Westminster largely irrelevant when it merely rubber-stamps legislation imposed upon it by Brussels.

With a population of just 1.8 million, we could establish a bespoke tax and benefits system that treats each person as an individual and meets their needs and strengths.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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