I WISH to clarify the terminology used by Brian Ritchie in his letter (Write Back, April 26). He writes that Northern Ireland is a country.
According to Google, a country may be (1) a sovereign independent state, (2) one that is occupied by another state as a non-sovereign, or a formerly sovereign, political division.
The first doesn't hold for Northern Ireland, while the second would be accepted by republicans who would argue that Northern Ireland is in need of liberation, either politically or militarily.
Google understands a statelet to be a state brought into existence by the break-up of a larger political entity, namely under the Act of Union 1801.
The statelet of Northern Ireland will be a country when the Army leaves the statelet and it doesn't rely on a block grant and has its own NI army, along with its own written constitution.
Brian Ritchie sees the future of Northern Ireland as a shared future, but where is this shared future to come from? The statelet has two conflicting heads of state, two conflicting flags and two conflicting anthems.
Such a statelet is a constitutional obscenity that can't endure. So, the future of the statelet can only be one of division, verbal wrangle and dysfunction. There is hope, however, in federalism.
Federalism takes as its ideology togetherness, co-operation and friendly dialogue between peoples, communities, countries, states and nations. And it is opposed to the apartheid of Irish and British nationalisms.