As regular readers know I have a rather low regard for the political and social commentary of the newspaper columnist Victoria White. For someone on the centre-left of Irish politics her views sometimes seem more at home in the tradition of the United Kingdom’s centre-right “Green Tories” than Europe’s mainstream environmental movement. However as I have noted many times before, the UK vote to leave the European Union in 2016 and London’s subsequent lack of concern for peace on this island has dampened the ardour of quite a few figures in the more anglophile cliques of the Irish media. It’s certainly unusual to see White or those in her ideological ambit be quite so blunt in their assessment of the utter failure of partition – however one measures it – and to acknowledge the circumstances whereby armed struggle became inevitable in the face of the segregationist statelet of “Northern Ireland”. From The Examiner:
Britain has wrecked Northern Ireland and the counties it borders since Partition.
It’s clear from the economic figures that the border itself has caused economic hardship and decline.
British rule has allowed this to happen. Britain, one of the most resourceful and effective nations the world has ever seen, stood over a sectarian, gerry-mandered statelet from the time of Partition until the human rights movement of the 1960s.
It is a desperately sad fact that the same amount of political change to address its sectarian inequality might not have been made had it not been for the IRA’s campaign of violence.
That’s not to excuse the violence. It’s to condemn the complete lack of care with which the British government has treated the people of Northern Ireland since the foundation of that State.
The so-called backstop is merely a negotiated insurance policy against a hard border which would work its worst devastation on the fortunes of the people of Northern Ireland and the Southern counties it borders.
From his BBC interview with Andrew Marr this week, it was clear that this is what is driving Tánaiste Simon Coveney to hold the line.
He is doing no more, he said, than defending “Irish interests on the island of Ireland”.
Andrew Marr asked if he could not provide the British with an “escape hatch” from the backstop deal. This would be an “escape hatch” from defending the interests of their own citizens.
The only “escape hatch” they need is the unilateral power to end the backstop the day British rule ends on this island.
They don’t care about “Irish interests on the island of Ireland” and are not fit to govern Northern Ireland.