London party

Doug Beattie may be right about direct rule, but if so, London must act

Newsletter Editorial

On pages 14 and 15, we report our last interview with the leader of a Unionist party.

The News Letter is neutral between the main Unionist parties. We wish them luck and hope that Unionist voters transfer widely between TUV, UUP and DUP.

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This week, Doug Beattie, a well-respected veteran, talks about the dangers of Stormont’s fall. He told our political editor Henry McDonald: “Think about it – the return of direct rule will have input from Dublin. I just can’t understand why people can’t and won’t see this. Those who want to destroy decentralization are taking a path that will not leave trade unionism in a stronger position.

This is a crucial point, indeed, it is difficult to dispute. But think for a moment what that means. This means that either the unionists perpetually yield to the nationalists. Or, if they draw a line in the sand and say no more, Stormont will fall and nationalism will get its way via Dublin.

It is a dreadful prospect. Knowledgeable observers say that London is really going to do something about the NI protocol, and soon. But what he needs to do most of all is send a message to Sinn Fein: that the Republicans may want NI to fail, but if they try to blackmail it out, they won’t get anything – nothing – via pro-nationalist ministers like Simon Coveney.