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Brexit and Ireland

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2018-05-18 16:46. Updated on UTC 2018-07-13

The Blair government's 'triangulation' – based on the groundwork laid during John Major's preparatory fudging – resulted in the 'Good Friday Agreement' in April 1998.

As disgusted as some of us were at the chicanery and insincerity behind it, many of us also realised that the entire house of cards rested on a simple proposition: that as EU integration proceeded, within a few decades there wouldn't be a sovereign Eire and a sovereign UK, only a sovereign EU. The basic issue of the unification of the two Irelands was solved. What started out as Home Rule would have ended up as Brussels Rule. The IRA would have won. The ever leakier border was the symbol of this.

When Brexit banged down onto the table the house of cards collapsed – and with it the tacit proposition behind the Good Friday Agreement. All the parties are now back where they were twenty years ago and all the triangulation has changed nothing. They all have to accept that the island of Ireland will contain two sovereign states: the EU and the UK – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Starting afresh

Brexit should not be muddled to accommodate the wishy-washy Good Friday Agreement in yet another piece of triangulation, but peace between the warring factions in Northern Ireland – who have not gone away, despite all the Blairite triangulation – has to be achieved in the context of the new dispensation.

For the Republican cause on both sides of the border, the permeability of the land border between the two Irelands was essential. During the troubles it allowed the IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland to melt back into the safe havens and arms caches of their comrades in the south.

The Irish government took occasional action, but it was essentially powerless against the ground-level sympathy for the Republican cause supported by the IRA's political party and the money that washed in from the USA.

Since the Good Friday Agreement the Republicans in Northern Ireland have had to do nothing political: they simply need to wait for external events to take their course. They have barely engaged in the administration, they have agreed upon next to nothing and blatently blocked and subverted whatever they could. The intermittent shambles that is the Northern Ireland Assembly is the proof that the Good Friday Agreement never resolved anything. Why anyone wants to tailor the Brexit agreement to perpetuate this shambles is a mystery.

A well-monitored border after Brexit will cut off the IRA's supply lines, allowing the authorities in Northern Ireland to act effectively against the Republican menace – for all its current faults, the fight against terrorism is much more sophisticated now than it was during the 'Troubles'. Suspicious minds may think that the current Irish wailing about the economic impact of a secure border is more to do with politics than economics.

The slide towards a single political entity, 'Ireland', will have been stopped and politicians of all shades of opinion in Northern Ireland will just have to get together and solve the problem in terms of the new reality. Some future unification of the two Irelands is for all intents and purposes off the table – the issue will then not be the unification of the two parts of Ireland but the detachment of Northern Ireland from Britain and its integration into the EU. Who will vote for that?

Update 13.07.2018

A reminder for anyone who thinks that the 'Good Friday Peace Agreement' had anything whatever to do with 'Good', 'Good Friday', 'Peace' or 'Agreement':

Trouble flares for a fifth straight night in Londonderry

On Wednesday night youths armed with petrol bombs and stones threw missiles into the nearby unionist Fountain estate and at police stationed on the city’s historic walls.

A fire was also started at the bottom of the flyover in the Bogside. Young people were seen stoking the burning wooden pallets, preventing cars from entering or exiting the roadway.

Earlier, police blamed dissident republican terrorists for firing a volley of automatic gunfire on officers.

Six shots were fired at officers close to the city’s famous walls on Tuesday night.

None of the officers were[sic] injured and the bullets were found both in the walls themselves and nearby trees.

It is believed the shots were automatic gunfire which came from the vicinity of the Bogside Inn.

Around 16 petrol bombs and five paint bombs were also thrown close to the walls and at police patrols.

It seems that in this situation a hard border might come in handy.