The British Occupied North of Ireland

Stormont’s Fresh Start Repackages Stale Goods

So the governments of Ireland and Britain, in consultation with the members of the cross-party regional administration in Belfast, have announced the rather optimistically titled “A Fresh Start: Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan“, as a way through the current political impasse in the north-east. Over two months of messy negotiations have bequeathed to us a sixty-seven page document outlining a number of proposals to alleviate the budgetary and socio-economic woes of the north, though a lot of them seem to represent a climb-down by Sinn Féin from its previous firm stance on social welfare matters, possibly for some soft-soaping on the vexed issue of “paramilitarism” and other potentially tricky concerns. As usual Irish language rights have been thrown to one side. Instead we are treated to the same meaningless wording that has been included in every other Irish-British agreement for the past thirty years:

“68. The UK Government and the Irish Government, recalling commitments from previous Agreements, and recognising the importance of understanding, tolerance and respect in relation to linguistic diversity, endorse the need for respect for and recognition of the Irish language in Northern Ireland, consistent with the Council of Europe Charter on Regional or Minority Languages.”

Which of course means jack-shit. Ah well, at least the Irish-haters will feel validated in their hate, the Ulster Canal will get some nice new locks and the odd information-board for tourists, and we can zoom up to Derry of a Friday afternoon (maybe!).

Less a fresh start, more reheated leftovers from the night before.

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9 comments

  1. The joint police/tax task force could be interesting if it’s given teeth. The paramilitary monitoring and reporting body could be a stick to beat SF with for quite some time.

    Other than that, a lot of words with very few enforceable.

    1. Maybe, though I suspect it will be mostly another cross-border talking shop, albeit one that suits unionist demands. All-Ireland policing they can live with, once it comes with a large “Made in GB” stamp on it.

      Lots of words, another international commission to add to the list, and we’ll be back here again in a couple of years.

  2. I don’t even get why the British government feels they need to hang onto the Irish colony anymore. They don’t seem to want it, and Northern Ireland is almost never included in general descriptions of Britain. Why keep it from the Republic, other than for racist reasons?

    1. Because the majority of its population wants to stay in the UK. What do you think the UK should do? Hand the territory over to the Republic of Ireland completely ignoring the wishes of NI’s population? Its recent history shows that it’s unlikely to end well and the last thing this island needs is another civil war.
      Can’t really deport the unionists to Britain, because that would be totally inhumane – only totalitarian regimes do that. And it also would not make any sense, because both the UK and Ireland are part of the EU and the unionists have the right to live anywhere in the EU including NI regardless of what country it belongs to.

      So yeah – the only solution that I see is to convince the majority of the unionists to change their minds and vote for reunification – good luck with that.

      1. @Janis

        Before 1922, even under British colonial rule, Ireland was ONE entity. Claiming that the unionists in one tiny section of it constituted some sort of autonomous majority, and redrawing the map of the country because of them, is bald gerrymandering.

        There is a quote from Abraham Lincoln disparaging the Southern Confederates for trying to secede over the results of a presidential election which was democratically and fairly done. I can’t find it right now but I just saw it earlier today.

      2. Oh, I’m just waiting until the Russian populations of the Baltic start agitating for union with Russia and partition enters the political lexicon of the region. I suspect you won’t see matters in such terms then.

        1. Some of them already do talk about separation, but it’s not a very popular opinion. There aren’t any serious separatist organisations – other than a few nutjobs and Internet trolls most of whom most likely don’t even live in Latvia, but work from Putin’s troll farms.
          And unlike Belfast or Derry there are no peace lines in Latvia. Latvian and Russian communities are NOT segregated and there are no no-go areas.

          The Russians didn’t even try to secede in the early 90s and it’s more unlikely now. There are fewer Russians now, their Latvian language skills are much better than in the 90s and a whole new generation of Russians has grown up in independent Latvia – most of them haven’t even been to Russia, and those who really wanted to live in Russia are already there.

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