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RHI shows DUP still has too much power 

You are correct to note the dysfunctional aspect of the north's "cash for ash" controversy with regard to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

However, your editorial critique ("Public deserves real answers over RHI, not cheap political stunts", Editor's Viewpoint, December 20) does not go far enough.

The fault lies not in the artificial construct and inbuilt dysfunctionality of the north's politics and institutions, but in the Northern Ireland state.

It was set up to perpetuate domination of one community by another on a sectarian basis that pre-dated state formation.

The system was threatened by the prospect of universal franchise and majority rule. So, to subvert democracy, unionists created the "Home Rule is Rome Rule" bogeyman. A sectarian state with a "Protestant parliament for a Protestant people", incapable of reform, was the result.

A tradition of pork-barrel corruption lay beneath the Orange state's surface. Unofficial Orange Order labour exchanges, denying Roman Catholics jobs, and the emergence of funds for Protestants to buy land promoted other forms of self-interest within the unionist elite. It was endemic, from municipal to government level. The residue is evident in the latest scandal.

The price that must be paid today for the perpetuation of Northern Ireland is legislative protection of the minority and its right to participate in government. That means also the exercise of veto for the still-vulnerable minority.

But the right of veto is given to unionists also, or to a unionist party like the DUP, with sufficient numbers elected. You're wrong to suggest Sinn Fein also has that power. It does not have the numbers. As it represents anti-sectarian minority interests, it is harder for SF to achieve the veto threshold than for the DUP to do so.

In the absence of a united Ireland, one partial solution would be make the threshold for veto activation higher for the unionist majority. That would render the DUP "cash for ash" stunt, "making a joke of ministerial responsibility", impossible without wider support.

In other words, it would make it impossible in practice.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

 

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