Archive for the 'Ireland' Category

The UKSC Ruling on Article 50 and the Future of Northern Ireland

So the GFA and the subsequent agreements based on it were a way of guaranteeing (to the unionists) that NI would stay within the UK but also of guaranteeing to the Irish nationalist people that while they had to stay in (for them) the wrong country, their identity would be respected and NI would be linked to the RoI through a series of cross border talking shops and the role of the RoI state as a guarantor of the GFA.
So everything went relatively OK for a while. Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley developed quite the bromance and later even Mc Guinnness recognized Peter Robinson was doing his best in spite of the backwoods element in his own party.
All this allowed
Sinn Féin to deal with its own internal tensions, centered on the fact that they had settled for administering British rule rather than overthrowing it. Fundamental to this was the increasing irrelevance of the border in the context of ever closer union between the EU nations. The border would still be there but you’d never notice it if you didn’t want to
But Arlene Foster is not Ian Paisley or even Peter Robinson. She has, either through conviction or necessity, reflected the views of the Protestant supremacist elements in her own party. The DUP is basically UKIP in its culture and attitudes. Not an inch! is its attitude to things of symbolic importance to nationalists like giving some sort of legal status to the Irish language. So gradually Sinn Fein tired of this.
And then came the referendum and then the as for cash scandal and then Mc Guinessess’s health problems. And Sinn Fein basically said, “Fuck this for a game of cowboys” and brought down the executive. When this happened the SDLP, the moderate nationalist party in NI called for joint administration of NI by Dublin and London. That’s the SDLP eh, which was probably founded with a helping hand from MI5, back in the day. SF are in danger of being outflanked on their green side by the SDLP.
And now the UK Supreme Court has ruled that regardless of the GFA or anything else, Northern Ireland can be yanked out of the EU without consultation with the NI Assembly, that from the point of view of Brexit it’s no different from Essex. So, all that talk about not reintroducing a hard border etc NI is being dragged much farther away from the rest of Ireland than it was before and the courts have confirmed that there’s nothing the NI Assembly can do about that. And
So what would you do if you were in SF or the SDLP? What would your argument for going back into government with in NI be, given that one of the central planks of the GFA had been kicked away and that the principal unionist party was doing an ever more convincing imitation of being a Protestant/Unionist supremacist movement?
As long as the bulk of the republican people continue to support SF there’ll be no major upsurge in violence. But we’re now in totally uncharted territory and there’s good reason to very concerned.


Kamikaze Brexit

The kind of UK that will result from May‘s diamond-hard Brexit will not be kind to poor British people and British people perceived to be masquerading as British while really being something else. British Jews will not be immune from this. And the level of unkindness will ramp up as the economic shit hits the fan because it’s the actual or perceived non-British who will be blamed. And the EU will continue to be blamed too, for not conceding to Britain all the benefits of membership with none of the costs. And it looks like Sinn Féin’s decision to withdraw from the Northern Ireland Executive was predicated on this. What would have been the point of their struggling on with the DUP in the context of the UK going full nativist? And all for what?  #kamikazebrexit

Farewell Martin McGuinness

So farewell then Martin. Your health seems to be letting you down and you’ve finally got tired of the DUP trying to turn Northern Ireland into  Protestant state for a Protestant people all over again. Small blame to you.  I guess your illness means you won’t be running for office again and that your political future, if you have one, will be to play the elder statesman in SF. No formal job but loads of influence, something like the role of Felipe González in the PSOE in Spain.

But maybe you’re for the high jump soon; we don’t know exactly what’s ailing you so it’s impossible to say. It’s been quite a life, you’ve had, no? You stood up for your people when it was extraordinarily difficult and dangerous to do so and were recognized a leader by all who came into contact with you. 22 was quite an age to be flown to London to negotiate with the Brits.

You kept faith with the armed struggle for far too long though and you countenanced horrible sectarian massacres. Unlike some others you did eventually see that it was  all leading nowhere, that it was impossible to impose sufficient costs on the Brits to make them rethink  their support for the Unionists and that the Unionists were not going to have their minds changed by killing any number of off duty UDR corporals. Some can’t get those facts into their heads even today.

There’d have been no durable ceasefire and no GFA without your personal credibility among the nationalist people to back it. And the devolved administration in NI wouldn’t have lasted until now without your pragmatic approach and personal humility, characteristics lacking in another top Republican whose name I won’t mention.

You probably won’t thank me for saying this but you remind me a lot of Arik Sharon: man of war and man peace, responsible for both foul and noble deeds, loved by (most of) your people and despised by those who’d like to see them go back to their previous condition of servitude.

So get well soon, and enjoy whatever time’s left to you.

Prediction for 2017, Number 1

Motorway pile up Brexit. The Brits will fuck us over on the CTA and the GFA, not because they are bad or hate us (mainly) but because they have no fucking idea what they are doing and imagine we’ll just say “ah, sure that’ll be grand your honour” to whatever madcap scheme they propose.

Gerry Adams and Dealing with Victory

 Come on guys, we won the war, often using decidedly savage methods, but still, it was the right outcome, and after all the other side wasn’t exactly covering itself in glory from a human rights point of view either. And now the losers have accepted the democratic legitimacy of your sovereignty where they live and are actively participating in the autonomous government there. Some of them even talk like they have swallowed the complete works of Jürgen Habermas.

 What more do we expect the losers to do?  “Answer for their crimes before the courts”, you say. Well fine, let’s do that. But the only way that is going to be politically and morally viable is for everyone to answer for everything they did, winners and losers alike.  Otherwise we’ll be making a distinction between good and necessary crimes (ours) and foul and unjustifiable ones (theirs).

“A truth and reconciliation commission, what about that?” Not a bad idea and some kind of process that will recognize the suffering of victims and provide them with reliable information about what happened to them and their family is long overdue.  Again, however, *everyone* would have to fess up to make this work.

But some people are sounding  like they don’t want either of those options. It seems they aren’t satisfied with winning the war and having the losers become one of the guarantors of their sovereignty where they – the losers –  live.  It seems that there are some who want the losers to crawl, to cringe before them and admit that, unlike you and me, they are very bad people indeed.  It isn’t going to happen. It didn’t happen in South Africa or El Salvador, to give just two examples, and won’t happen in Colombia either.

Queen Elizabeth II had the former military head of the campaign to end her rule in part of her kingdom around for dinner the other day.  It’s quite possible that this man personally dispatched soldiers and policemen who had sworn loyalty to her. He certainly instructed others to do so. One of the victims of his campaign was a close relative of hers.

It feels a bit strange to say so but there is no denying it;  on this issue I’m a lot closer to Elizabeth Windsor than to many of my friends, Facebook and otherwise.

The Arrest of Gerry Adams

Q: Is Gerry Adams a bad man?

A: An exceptionally bad one, he was one of the principal architects of a campaign of heavily sectarian violence which cost thousands of lives.

Q: So all decent people should be pleased that he is currently under arrest.

A: I am not so sure. As well as being an exceptionally bad man he also achieved a remarkable political feat; he turned the movement which carried out the campaign mentioned above into pretty much the exact opposite of what it had been before and all the while proclaiming loyalty to its original goals. And he got almost all of his own supporters to follow him. And he didn’t get killed along the way as a result. Imagine turning the Sinaloa cartel into the local subsidiary of the DEA, something like that.

While we can’t know his deep motives for doing this among them must have been the fact that he could see that he and his friends were losing the war against the British state. And the methods the British state employed: mass internment, torture, deniable killings by loyalist death squads, allowing informants in the PIRA to carry out grave crimes in order to keep credible with the comrades they were snitching on etc. weren’t very nice either. People up on their moralising high horses about his arrest should remember that. You supported the defeat of the PIRA and you supported all that too. I certainly did. Dirty hands and all that. 

Q. But regardless, surely he should pay for the crimes he is personally responsible for.

A. I agree. If the British state has suddenly decided that everyone who committed a grave crime in NI over the last 45 years should answer to the cops and courts for his or her actions then I am all for that. And if that is indeed what happened then I expect we will soon see a wave of arrests of former British soldiers, RUC special branch, int & squint types and a whole variety of ex-spooks too, so that they can face justice for what they did. And if we don’t see that, and particularly if Adams and only Adams has to face charges for his crimes, then I will be obliged to conclude that there is some political motive to all this, the nature of which escapes my understanding at the moment.

Q: So, so, you support this vile man !!!! 

A: No, you have not been paying attention, I do not. My family is blue shirt to the core. Our political forebearers took sterner measures against proto-provoism than the British ever dared to in Northern Ireland.

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