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'200' letter highlights nationalism's failure

The politically bankrupt nature of nationalism was never more evident than in the recent open letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The 200 people who co-signed the letter, demanding the Irish government support and champion nationalists in Northern Ireland, could have done so 60 years ago when the old Nationalist Party absented itself from Stormont, just as Sinn Fein has done from the Assembly.

Nationalism - Irish or British - never blames itself; never questions its actions, nor reflects on its own behaviour. In the world of nationalists and nationalism, someone else is always at fault. So it is with the content and tone of this letter.

Sinn Fein collapsed the Executive, forced an election and ever since have presented excuse after excuse for their failure to form a new Assembly.

The '200 letter' mirrors exactly the Sinn Fein agenda. It presents an extremely narrow version of events - and a dangerous one at that.

While claiming to seek to protect the Good Friday Agreement, it undermines one of its main cornerstones: the principle of consent. It points to the outcome of the EU referendum and argues it will "reinforce partition on this island".

The Good Friday Agreement confirmed the constitutional position of both parts of this island, and that was endorsed by the vast majority of citizens in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Nationalism is not only a backward political philosophy; it is a toxic one. It seeks to divide and exploit difference. It blames others and otherness. It is a political cancer that deliberately subverts progressive politics and invariably is home to the worst examples of native gombeen men and women.

Very few of the 200 signatories to this letter have been to the fore in the struggle to defend public services, fund education, secure the NHS, stand up for workers' rights, oppose zero-hours contracts or campaign for a real living wage.

Fewer still, for all their alleged concern about a rights-based society, have publicly sought the right of women in Northern Ireland to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

Given not one of the 200 could bring themselves to say 'Northern Ireland', this letter shows the contempt and disdain they are happy to display in pursuit of these narrow, exclusive and dangerous objectives.

The immediate priority for Northern Ireland is the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive. But that would mean no hiding place for the failed - and failing - politics of nationalism.


Workers Party

Belfast Telegraph

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