IN a TV interview, Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker said that a border poll would happen if opinion polls showed an appetite for reunification, in accordance with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The terms of the Good Friday Agreement do not mention opinion polls, in fact the agreement sets a far higher bar than an “appetite”.

The agreement states that the Secretary of State will order a referendum “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”.

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In the case of Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State’s decision on holding a referendum has to be based on his assessment of the likely result of the referendum, but there are no guidelines on how the assessment has to be made.

Scotland has already witnessed the effects of decisions being left to assessments made by the Secretary of State and UK Prime Ministers past, present and future have said that economic recovery and stability must be achieved before a Scottish independence referendum could be considered.

Fortunately, in Northern Ireland supporters of reunification have access to an official, legal and measurable means of demonstrating their wish to have a united Ireland by exercising the right to choose their passport – the “entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation”.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

AMANDA Baker (Letters, Feb 7) absolutely hit the nail on the head. The Senedd, and the leaders of Stormont and Holyrood all call for a ceasefire in Gaza (how could you not?), so three of the four nations of the “UK” call for a ceasefire but the Westminster government in England do not support this so it hasn’t happened.

If anyone was in any doubt about whether or not the UK is a partnership of equals, we now have irrefutable proof that Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland only get a say if England agrees and permits it.

Professor Alan Boyter
Strachur, Argyll

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WOULD the break-up of a corrupt, dysfunctional body such as the United Kingdom result in reducing support and cover for bloodthirsty states pursuing genocide against peaceful neighbours?

If so, then it’s another reason for me to support and seek independence for Scotland.

Jim McGuinness
via email

TOWARDS the end of last year, Labour’s Sir Chris Bryant commented that the current parliament is the worst in history with, at that time, 24 MPs suspended from Westminster for various reasons. The arithmetic of course points to Labour and Conservative MPs being the most recalcitrant, in some cases criminal. The SNP with fewer members has not escaped unscathed either.

Wednesday’s attack on Sir Keir Starmer by Rishi Sunak, as reported in The National on Thursday, was about the former’s continuous policy flip-flopping, and disagreements within his front bench team about what a Labour government would look like. It was a legitimate attack, and many of my comrades in the party are hanging on by their fingernails. Starmer deliberately and mischievously sold us a pup during his election; some might say he lied.

Sunak meanwhile crossed a red line in Westminster on Wednesday in the trans space; it is time our politicians as a group grew up and acted professionally when discussing transgender issues, indeed all issues.

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I foresee a particularly nasty forthcoming General Election campaign. Supporters of political parties are told voters are turned off the process by negative campaigning then cannot wait to engage in the same in front of the camera. Maybe it’s in their DNA?

This should not be the stuff of playground politics, it’s about human rights; trans women’s rights are equal to all women’s rights and in turn basic human rights. The life of a beautiful young woman, Brianna Ghey, was lost to the actions of killers described by Judge Yip as transphobic and sadistic, no ifs no buts.

But Sunak is not alone. Next week Scottish Labour at its annual conference will have a badly worded, badly motivated motion before it. It has already been passed by Scottish Labour Women’s Conference. Its wording and interpretation can be found on the web page of Scottish Labour Women’s Declaration, where LGBT+ (the T of course being trans) activists fighting for all women’s rights are accused of being engaged in tyranny. That is their warped view. I wonder what Judge Yip would think of it.

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The motion is long and convoluted and sets up party members against our Scottish Labour MSPs who support self-recognition by an overwhelming majority. It calls for “women’s sex-based rights”, which sounds innocent enough. It’s not. It’s a dog whistle against trans rights designed simply to make the lives of trans women (and men) worse. Thankfully our largest Scottish trades unions that represent 550,000-plus women members across Scotland were having nothing of it; I wish they had voted against, but they at least abstained.

Will it take another callous killing to bring people to their senses? It might be uncomfortable to some, but women can obtain a gender recognition certificate without vaginoplasty and other surgery, trans men can retain their reproductive organs and have babies. If anyone hasn’t read about Freddy McConnell, I commend to them his beautiful moving story and experience in giving birth to wee Jack.

Douglas McBean