In light of the number of Brexit-supporting politicians and journalists in Britain now expressing open hostility towards the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, it comes as no surprise that the Democratic Unionist Party has taken the opportunity to move against the foundations of the multistranded peace deal which ended thirty years of conflict or so-called Troubles in the British-controlled north-east of Ireland. From Sam McBride in iNews:
A senior DUP MLA has said that he sees little prospect of Stormont returning this year and hinted that there may be changes to the Belfast Agreement before that happens.
In evidence to the Commons’ Northern Ireland Affairs Committee TODAY, Simon Hamilton said that there was now a serious breakdown in trust between his party and Sinn Féin after talks to restore devolution collapsed three weeks ago.
The former Stormont finance minister’s comments are significant because he is seen as one of the DUP’s most moderate pro-devolution voices…
Mr Hamilton also set out arguments to reform the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, although he was vague about what precisely the DUP wants to see changed.
The DUP, of course, actively campaigned against the Washington-brokered treaty during simultaneous north-south referendums in May of 1998, and only latterly joined the regional power-sharing arrangements with Sinn Féin in mid-2007. It seems that the pro-union party views the House of Commons in London as a suddenly favourable front in its ongoing decades-old war with Irish nationalism. A not unreasonable position to take, given the grotesque parliamentary alliance negotiated between the Democratic Unionists and the UK’s governing Conservative Party in June 2017. According to BreakingNews.ie:
The DUP has demanded amendments to a “cornerstone of the Belfast Agreement” in a bid to give extra protections to veterans.
The party’s leader Arlene Foster watched on from the visitors’ gallery in the House of Commons as chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson warned the Government benches that greater protections for ex-service personnel in the North formed “part of the confidence and supply deal”.
In an opposition day debate, Mr Donaldson told MPs there was still a “culture of fear” among veterans in the country and proposed a number of moves to remedy this.
Mr Donaldson, backed by his nine other colleagues, called for section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to be amended to include provision for the armed forces.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster resisted the calls, however… “Let’s not forget, as has been mentioned, beside the instruments already in place there is section 75. I listened very carefully to what he had to say, but it is a cornerstone of the Belfast Agreement.”
Both the hibernophobic DUP and the xenophobic Tory backbenches are determined to bring about Britain’s exit from the European Union, no matter how calamitous the circumstances or results. But for the Democratic Unionists the creation of an isolationist United Kingdom, the emergence of a visible frontier around the UK-ruled Six Counties or the wrecking of the existing Good Friday Agreement are simply a means to another, more important end: the survival of the last British outpost on the island of Ireland.