Letter: Nationalism Stumbling Block to Ending Tensions

By Nesbitt, Dermot | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), November 6, 1997 | Go to article overview

Letter: Nationalism Stumbling Block to Ending Tensions


Nesbitt, Dermot, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)


The article in last week's News Letter by Sean Farren regarding the lessons to be learnt from Europe is a distortion of reality.

It gave the SDLP's simple argument - follow the lessons of reconciliation applied in Europe and all will be well. The SDLP is thus portrayed as a modern- thinking party wishing to embrace the European methods of conflict resolution. Is this the true situation?

John Hume's often repeated view is that Europe has twice in this century been at war but now Europe has put its divisions aside and its nations are now working together in common interest. He then advises that the same should happen within Ireland.

It is true that borders have become blurred by the pooling of sovereignty among the 15 nations within the EU. However this is fundamentally different from what is needed within the island of Ireland.

The essence of our problem is that one section of the Northern Ireland community has an allegiance to the neighbouring State and therefore wishes the removal of the border. This desire to remove the border is mirrored by the formal position of the Republic of Ireland.

In short, the problem is one of strident nationalism. Such nationalism has been rejected by all democracies in Europe.

Further, notwithstanding the development of the EU, there are still tensions across some borders and in turn a lack of trust as to the true intention regarding cross-border co-operation.

The EU is clear as to how progress should be made in such cases: borders are to be accepted and respected and any cross-border co-operation should proceed with great caution.

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