Brexit is the DUP’s fire escape from Agreement

Posted By: April 11, 2018

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, April 11, 2018

WELL? Did you spot what was missing? There’s the obvious item that there was hardly a word from the DUP about the Good Friday Agreement.

Why would there be? They opposed it and as you can see from their actions in the last few years, still do both in letter and spirit.

Clearly, to use Theresa May’s favorite word, not a consideration when she did her dodgy deal with them.

No, the big item missing was a joint statement from Dublin and London restating their commitments.

Twenty years ago not only would there have been a joint statement but there would also have been a meeting and a photo-opportunity either in Downing Street or at Leinster House.

There wasn’t even any statement from the British government. Oh yes, there were a few hundred deadpan boilerplate words devoid of enthusiasm in the Daily Torygraph [Telegraph], the Conservatives’ house magazine, from Theresa May’s current yes woman here[the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland].

It read as if it were written so as to be able to deny the British ignored the twentieth anniversary. She was going through the motions.

All the usual suspects turned up or gave interviews or both: Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, Senator George Mitchell, John Major.

The Irish government organized several commemorative events, including in London and Belfast. Simon Coveney came to Belfast to speak.

From the current British government hardly a dickie bird.

It’s an ominous signal. It may be part of what Ireland’s EU Commissioner Phil Hogan calls the ‘London-London negotiation.’

We know the hard Brexiteers want May to ditch the GFA because it presents insuperable problems for their aim of leaving the customs union and single market, in Tony Blair’s words “to sacrifice the Agreement on the altar of Brexit.”

We know leading figures in the DUP want that too. For them, Brexit is a fire escape from the Agreement.

In the end, this negative stance from the British is futile. Any political scientist who has looked at The North instantly recognizes it for what it is; a politico-ethnic problem, an ethno-political problem or an ethnic-nationalist problem, it doesn’t matter which version you prefer.

The North was invented as a refuge for Ireland’s ethnic minority just as Lebanon was invented as a refuge for the Maronite Christians on Mount Lebanon and various other enclaves were devised for similar groups like in Alto Adige, northern Italy – or Sud Tyrol if you’re an ethnic German living there.

What all these places have in common is that the neighboring governments with interest in the enclave must be involved in managing the enclave.

It’s no use leaving it to the inhabitants and waffling on about reconciliation.

Flemings and Walloons will never be reconciled. Some Flemings want to live in the Netherlands or be independent. Belgium often can’t form a government for years.

Republicans will never be reconciled to living in The North and Unionists will never be reconciled to living in a united Ireland.

Get real. Loose lips Arlene Foster, not for the first time, let the cat out of the bag last week by admitting that she would leave rather than be reconciled to living in a united Ireland.

The British government has to face the fact that there has never been any deal here, big or small, without the input of both governments: Sunningdale, the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Good Friday Agreement, St Andrews, devolving policing and justice, you name it.

Since this place was created as a refuge for Ireland’s national minority that minority never agrees to anything which diminishes their protected position.

They regard any change as hoisting them onto a slippery slope with a certain destination. So most unionists never wholeheartedly supported the GFA.

Barely fifty percent only succumbed under ambiguous blandishments from Tony Blair. They wouldn’t agree to devolve policing and justice but gave in under pressure from Gordon Brown only as long as the justice minister wasn’t a nationalist.

Now they have a British government at war with itself which supports unionists’ recalcitrance but only for short-term parliamentary advantage.

Our proconsul’s article on Monday indicates the British government will pay lip service to the GFA but not operate any of it until its own civil war about Brexit is concluded. So mark time.