Letter: Deterrents to a career in politics in Northern Ireland

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'Trapped in a fool's paradise' (1 September) suggested that the absence of the Protestant middle class and business community from unionist politics is due to a selfish contentment with the 'easy life' outside Northern Ireland's trouble spots and also a lack of career opportunities in politics.

You go on to say that the Catholic middle class is actively involved in nationalist politics, without explaining why. No mention is made of the fact that middle-class Catholics enjoy the same 'good life' and are equally subject to career restrictions within politics.

The absence of middle-class Protestants might be explained by the cost of involvement. Throughout the present 'troubles', Protestant politicians have paid a high price for stating their case. They have to accept massive restrictions on their personal freedom, due to the constant threat from republican murder gangs. Many have already paid with their lives. One such case was that of a young law graduate, Edgar Graham. He was only beginning to receive recognition within the moderate Official Unionist Party when the IRA decided to end his life.

By contrast, constitutional nationalist politicians have escaped relatively unscathed. Not since the mid-Seventies have constitutional nationalists been targeted by loyalist paramilitary groups.

I find it difficult to imagine why any successful middle-class Protestant would give up the 'good life' in Northern Ireland in favour of a political life with a high potential for violent death. The memory of Edgar Graham lives on.

Yours faithfully,


London, SE26

2 September