IT speaks volumes about the regard the UK media has for Northern Ireland and its politics that the resignation of First Minister Arlene Foster has received only token coverage.

The province was described by the PSNI as a tinderbox last month amidst mainly Unionist rioting and widespread violence against the police.The uncertainty that the Northern Ireland protocol produced has created an identity crisis for many in the Unionist community who feel betrayed by the UK and its perfidious Prime Minister.

Ironically Mrs Foster and her party, the DUP, were overwhelmingly in favour of a hard Brexit that would accentuate their British credentials despite 56% of the people of Northern Ireland voting to remain in the EU. The First Minister enjoyed her moment in the sun following the 2017 election that left the Theresa May government dependent on her party for support, but she discarded Mrs May’s Brexit deal as too weak.

READ MORE: Who is Edwin Poots, the frontrunner to be DUP leader, and what does he believe?

She leaves the political stage as her country gets ready to mark the centenary of its birth and the marching season looms into view. These events, alongside the continuing uncertainty regarding the protocol, may well result in a tangible threat to the peace process and a breakdown in government power-sharing arrangements in the near future.

The fact that Mrs Foster, who survived the infamous “cash for ash” scandal that wrecked Stormont for a lengthy period, was forced to resign due to resuming talks with Dublin over the protocol does not bode well for the ongoing political process in Northern Ireland. Minister for agriculture Edwin Poots, who is strongly tipped to replace the First Minister, is a DUP traditionalist who last year stated that the coronavirus was more common in nationalist areas of the country, a bluff and sectarian remark designed to appeal to his antediluvian power base.

Mr Poots is a creationist who holds views that most reasonable people would describe as primordial, such as that LGBT people must not be allowed to adopt. There is no doubt that his ascendancy to the post of First Minister would place increasing strains on relations with nationalist parties and that his orthodox views could alienate many in the Unionist community.

The last thing Northern Ireland needs at this time is further polarisation and increased doubt about their position in the UK being fostered by a negligent and apathetic Prime Minister. A recent poll suggested that a majority of people in the province believe that Northern Ireland will leave the UK in the next 25 years, a process that looks to have already begun. With Scotland on the brink of independence, the UK has never looked so abject or fragmented. All on Boris Johnson’s watch.

Owen Kelly

GEORGE McKnight raises an interesting scenario in his letter of April 29, but he misses a salient point. It may indeed be the case that the Tories will have to re-negotiate any trade deals they may have acquired prior to Scotland voting to revoke what has been the totally unsatisfactory agreement with England to form a United Kingdom – an international agreement that has already been broached on innumerable occasions by England acting in its own selfish interests.

The latest manifestation of that is an extreme right-wing English Parliament masquerading as the government of the UK, while harbouring a total disdain for Scotland’s needs and interests, and for that matter the interests of the other nations in the UK that were never a part of the Union of 1707, but obviously subject to England’s disinterest too.

As a result of Scotland voting for independence the terms UK (United Kingdom) and GB (Great Britain) will become defunct and consigned to the dustbin of history, as will any terms relating to it, eg GBP (Great British Pound) or rUK (Remainder of the UK). England recognises the kudos attached to the term UK, despite the damage they have already inflicted on it, and are already talking about the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but Scotland may well have something to say about that.

England has not yet stopped enlarging the hole it keeps digging for itself. Cupidity allied to an arrogant national contempt for other nations has already dictated the demise of a mighty Empire and more recently destroyed a secure and valuable trading relationship with Europe, while garnering bitter European-wide enmity in the process. England’s not finished yet, but soon will be, with the loss of Scotland to a Europe where it is welcome and historically was always happy to belong.

Bruce Moglia
Bridge of Weir

I RECENTLY spent a month in ward 5C at Crosshouse Hospital. The attention and care delivered by our wonderful Scottish NHS was absolutely fantastic. I was in hospital when word came through that the Scottish Government had offered this wonderful work force a 4% rise. The nurses I spoke to were delighted and happy more that the Scottish Government, unlike Westminster, actually appreciated their tremendous work undertaken throughout the pandemic.

Please Scotland vote on Thursday to make sure that we never allow any Tory government the chance to sell off our incredible Scottish NHS.

Donald Macmillan