POLITICS: Deep concern over DUP deal

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An open letter to MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

I’m writing to express my great concern regarding the deal drawn up between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party in order for the former to stay in Government and to operate as though it still held a majority.

A year ago, I wrote to you setting out my concerns about the impact Brexit would have on two areas. One was the effect it would have on my career and small business as a translator, and this effect remains to be seen. The other was the impact for Northern Ireland. I could never have predicted an outcome anything like the one we are faced with today.

As someone from a Catholic background, I had no need to find out who the DUP were when news of a potential deal broke. I was well aware from an early age of the views former party leaders had of people like me, describing us as ‘vermin’ and referring to the Pope as the ‘anti-Christ’.

It didn’t just stop with speeches, the founder of the DUP marched with loyalist paramilitaries during the 1974 Ulster Workers Council strike, Peter Robinson attended Ulster Resistance rallies, and there are many more historical links with armed groups responsible for the murder of hundreds.

While you might argue that times have changed, the DUP still holds other views that are widely seen as outdated and at odds with public sensibilities in the UK.

This is a party that would deny the validity of a marriage between people of the same sex, which mocks speakers of Irish, whose members endorse creationism being taught as scientific fact and which advocates a return of the death penalty.

While it is a party that legitimately represents the interest of a small section of those in the North of Ireland, it is not a party I want representing me here in Northumberland as part of a Government deal.

It is precisely because times have changed since the Belfast Agreement that it needs to be protected.

What possible mandate could Theresa May have to wipe away the progress made during my lifetime, and what moral or political right does she have to compromise the peace process in Northern Ireland?

By fully implementing the Military Covenant in Northern Ireland – a move initially rejected by Tony Blair as it was being drawn up – May is showing a disregard for the principle of neutrality, giving privileged treatment to one group of victims of the Troubles and inflaming community tensions.

I’m also concerned about what this deal could mean for those resident in Northern Ireland, our allies in the Republic of Ireland, and indeed for your constituents here in Northumberland.

Catherine Roskams,

Bondgate Within,

Alnwick