THE dam of the Good Friday Agreement, built to maintain a fragile peace in the province, looks as though it may have burst.

The riot at the Peace Wall brought the two sides into conflict to prove that the blight of bigotry which has long bedevilled Northern Ireland has continued to fester under the surface, just waiting for a spark to provoke an incendiary response.

Boris Johnson must carry some culpability for what is now occurring since his glib promise that there would be no checks or forms to hamper the passage of goods through the province has been shown to be unfounded.

There is a fear in the Unionist community that what is happening could be a major stepping stone towards the reunification of Ireland.

What also has been disconcerting has been Arlene Foster's recent remarks calling for the resignation of her nation's Chief Constable, Simon Byrne. She wants him to go for facilitating the funeral procession in honour of Bobby Storey last summer where crowds lining the streets breached Covid regulations to watch IRA sympathisers parading behind the hearse.

It would not have been the decision of the Chief Constable that such an insensitive procession should have been allowed but it was his duty to police the procession, once the decision was authorised.

There is also the suspicion that those who have rioted in Loyalist areas and have launched attacks upon the Police Service of Northern Ireland were incited to do so by the paramilitaries who have been feeling the heat in the inroads the force has been making into their drug-dealings empire.

The mare's nest that is the province needs sensitive handling where the politicians on one side should not be giving the obligatory knee-jerk reaction to the banging of the Lambeg drum and the other side should have refrained from showing any reverence in public towards a prominent IRA leader.

Cool heads, stripped of the inbuilt prejudices still operating within the province, will be needed if Northern Ireland is not to revert to the bad old days.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


WHILE the UK Government repeatedly pats itself on the back and claims an estimated 6,000 lives have been “saved” through an early vaccine roll-out, no estimates have been stated of the number who have died because the UK Government let infections in the south-east of England get out of control last year and spawn the highly pernicious “Kent” or “English” variant. The second wave of Covid-19, primarily resulting from the rapid spread of this new mutation, has taken close to a further 100,000 lives across the UK; as it spreads across Europe and beyond, many more tens of thousands of lives are tragically being added to the catastrophic death toll.

How did this come about in a country that we are told is “leading the world” in so many fields associated with combating this coronavirus? Why is it that Norway, with a much smaller population and slower vaccine roll-out, identified (on March 18) a “most likely” side-effect of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine apparently weeks before those who developed and tested the vaccine and before our army of "global experts" based in and around Oxford and London?

Why is this furtive UK Government, which clearly abhors genuine transparency and scrutiny, allowed by our self-vaunted mainstream media to keep the public in the dark, not just on the corrupt award of public contracts that are costing us billions and billions of pounds but on critical public health decisions that appallingly have already cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

* I WAS interested to read of the outcry about the risk of clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine ("Under-30s get alternative jab over Astrazeneca fears", The Herald, April 8). I presume all these feeling the risk is unacceptable will be avoiding long-haul flights with their attendant risk of DVT, crossing roads except at designated crossings, operations with the risk entailed with anaesthetics and will not be attending large sporting events and other large gatherings.

James Watson, Dunbar.


NATASHA Radmehr attempts to make the case for doing away with Scotland's unique not proven verdict, with an emphasis on its supposed detrimental outcome in cases of rape ("Scrapping the tricky not proven verdict could be the first step to better justice", The Herald, April 8).

Whilst her reasons for making an exception in rape cases are clearly absurd, as surely a two-tier justice system would be completely unworkable, there is a justification for revisiting a three-option verdict as at present and reducing it by one, to a choice of two.

However, I believe that a more representative and unambiguous outcome to a criminal trial, where at the outset of course the defendant is assumed innocent and it is incumbent upon the prosecution to prove guilt, would be for the verdict to be either proven or not proven. After all, the jury having heard all the evidence at the end of the trial from both sides, can now decide whether the case against the accused is proved or not.

James Martin, Bearsden.


IN acknowledged intemperate diversion from my usual benign and charitable disposition, I venture to suggest bringing back the stocks and pelting litter miscreants with their own rubbish (Letters, April 6, 7 & 8).

No doubt wiser counsel will prevail, and the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth will continue until there is the will and effort made to apply existing legislation.

R Russell Smith, Largs.