Threats? What threats? That is the question on a lot of minds as scepticism continues to grow about recent claims of intimidation against local officials in the port of Larne and the city of Belfast who were working, however tangentially, on administrating the so-called Irish Sea border between Ireland and the post-Brexit United Kingdom. As the well-informed political correspondent Sam McBride notes for the regional News Letter, a decidedly hardline pro-union publication, most of the allegations of imminent violence directed at UK and European Union employees seems to have come from the Democratic Unionist Party. The chief opponent of the regulatory frontier agreed between Brussels and London under the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.
[On Monday] news emerged that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – on which the DUP is the largest party – had suddenly withdrawn its staff from the border post in Larne because of graffiti describing them as “targets”. Shortly after that, the DUP said that Edwin Poots, its minister responsible for most of the new border checks, was resigning at midnight to have surgery for cancer.
That news was rapidly followed not only by the announcement that prior to leaving office Mr Poots had withdrawn his staff from the Larne and Belfast checks, but by a claim from loyalist Jamie Bryson that Mrs Foster had tried to stop Mr Poots from taking that action and removed him from office against his will.
…it is now clear that Mr Poots’ decision that evening was far more political than was apparent at the time. The graffiti had appeared 11 days earlier but there does not appear to have been any particular concern from police that it represented an immediate threat to lives. But by last Sunday – two days after the EU moved to trigger Article 16 of the NI Protocol to control vaccines exports – Mr Poots phoned his most senior official, Denis McMahon, to express concern for the safety of the staff.
Mr Poots, who six months ago briefly flirted with ordering his officials not to operate the border before backing down… On Monday night, just hours before he left office, Mr Poots again rang Mr McMahon to ask for the staff to be withdrawn from Belfast and Larne ports…
Therefore, remarkably, the security assessment did not come from the police but came from Mr Poots.
Subsequently, the police have stressed that they do not believe the graffiti was linked to paramilitaries.
Mr Poots did not stop the checks as a point of political principle, but explicitly because of the threat, creating the danger that further threats are inadvertently encouraged.
Or not so inadvertently. The dubious sequence of events outlined by Sam McBride has been confirmed by other sources, though the British and pro-British media has been remarkably silent on the controversy, preferring to hype up notions of unionist insurrectionists taking to the streets to protest their loss of privilege in what has long ceased to be Britain’s politically and culturally monolithic rump colony on the island of Ireland. Despite the DUP’s best efforts to make it otherwise through their enthusiasm for the empire-revivalism of Brexit.
In fact the allegations of terrorist threats against innocent port workers seems to be collapsing day by day, as the Irish Times reports:
Trade unions have denied raising concerns about suspicious activity at port checks ahead of a council’s decision to withdraw staff from the inspection posts.
Mid and East Antrim Council withdrew environmental health workers from facilities at Larne Port on Monday night. The move came after threatening graffiti directed at those carrying out new checks on goods arriving from Britain.
Announcing the decision on Monday, DUP mayor Peter Johnson cited “serious concerns” raised by trade unions over “increasing suspicious activity” including the recording of number-plate details of staff members.
Police have blamed the graffiti and menacing online comments on disgruntled individuals and small groups.
Officers have characterised the incidents as “low level” and have insisted there is no evidence of wider paramilitary involvement in threats. They said there was nothing to substantiate claims of number-plate details being gathered.
The three unions representing the council workers, Nipsa, GMB and Unite, have now denied making the claims referenced by Mr Johnson.
Council staff returned to work on Friday after the council examined a formal threat assessment report by the Police Service of Northern Ireland…
What began in a flurry of fear at the start of the week is rapidly beginning to look like some well-timed political opportunism by a faction of the Democratic Unionists hoping to startle the bulk of the party into a second stab at erecting a Brexit frontier around the Six Counties, with the connivance of like-minded allies in Britain. And with little concern for the long-term consequences of a return to a “hard partition” on the island of Ireland. As for the political and rhetorical tactics they are prepared to employ to achieve that objective, as was pointed out during the bloody years of the Troubles, when it came to murder and mayhem loyalist gunmen may have pulled the triggers but it was unionist politicians who pointed the guns. And none were more practiced in that behavior than the DUP.
To borrow a well-worn political phrase, they haven’t gone away y’know.
I got a fbook add from Nigel farage on this subject stirring stuff up a few days ago.. Why tf would I be getting fb adds from Farage I ask? My Fb adress is the republic and its obvious from all the adds that I receive and report that Nigel is the last person I d be interested in or supporting .. So my point being is that facebook are there to stir it up again.. I never receive adds from any lefty or even centrist politically motivated groups. The pseudo nationalist adds that I do get are from the Nationalist party and Siol na heireann and other anti vax “freedomj” loving folk ! Main point being fbook strikes and will strike again sucking the last few brain cells left in the more hardline British Nationalists, British ultra Nationalists and hardline unionist brexiteers! Where is this one going to go?
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Yeah, something doesn’t ad up.
Thanks for the post ASF, shedding light on the subject. The affair has indeed been handled quietly in the UK media.
Also of interest is Paul Gray’s comment above. Whenever anything off kilter pops up, without obvious connecting dots, think, where tf is the farage, bannon, banks and mercer shit stirring cabal. With Trump gone, at least for the time deposed, farage will be looking for a cause, a gig.
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It wasn t just farage I was pointing out or meant here its lots of the other british media outlets jumping on a story, hyping it, distoring it and creating hysteria. If we think Trumps gone all is good or the whole populist movement will just disappear I think we are very naive and very mistaken.. I just question why is it in the last week I have been getting alt right and british Nationalist adds from fb when I havent had any really of anything noteworthy for a few months.. Why me and why now? when its obvious to any Ai that I just report and block such adds..
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Totally agree, re trump and the populous vote. I read that there is a high percentage of the Trump support still wanting their leader (A leader?), possibly 34 million. That is a huge number of his voters, disaffected voters to be won over.
That is a worry about alt right and other disrupters targetting through fb. Are any/many of your contacts also receiving the same?
I thought this was a suspicious storm in a teacup at the when I heard of it. Grma for the clearup.
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Reblogged this on rebelbreeze and commented:
Manufactured hype, a storm in a teacup … Concise summary by An Sionnach Fionn
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Reblogged on Rebel Breeze wordpress blog thanks
When was there “hard partition” on the Irish border?
1920s onwards. And during the Troubles when it was the most militarised border in Europe after the Iron Curtain frontiers. Post-GFA the visible border has just sort of faded away.
During the “Troubles” we had a security border, which meant there were installations on all the main north/south arterial routes. The rest of the 300 mile long frontier remained open, all you had to do was walk across a field, jump over a stream, or even through somebody’s house. The I.R.A..’s tactics were predicated on this, most training and munitions dumps being in the south. Loyalists also appear to have had no problem going across to bomb Dublin and Monaghan, or kill people in Donegal. You knew where the security installations were, so you just avoided them, unless, of course, you wanted to directly attack them. A hard border was, and is, logistically, financially and, above all, politically impossible to impose.
Post-1998 all these installations have been removed and there was never any chance of them coming back, the comparatively small amount of trade across the land border certainly wouldn’t warrant such action. Wouldn’t there have to be some checks on the border? Well, according to the then Irish Revenue Commissioner, Liam Irwin, no there would not. In evidence to a Dail committee on 6/5/2017 he said “declarations would be electronic. Most transactions would be immediately approved and that would be the end of that.” Perhaps, if the R.O.I. had been a truly independent, sovereign state that policy could have been followed, But, of course, if you are a small country within the E.U. that luxury is unavailable to you, with the R.O.I.’s status being confirmed by the bail-out of 2010, following the collapse of the “Celtic Tiger.”. Ireland became in the words of the former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, a “model prisoner” of the E.U.. In that context the E.U. decided that the border had to be used as a lever, bargaining chip/blackmail tool to achieve the E.U.’s ultimate political goal, that of semi-annexing N.I. and semi-partitioning the U.K..
The ostensible reason for this was that the Good Friday Agreement had to be respected and the integrity of the E.U.’s single market had to be preserved. Even the most cursory perusal of the G,F.A. would reveal that there is no border section or clause, the term “border” is mentioned once in passing, there is no demand for a particular kind of border on the Island. Trade from N.I. across the border makes up a tiny 0.23% of trade into the E.U’s total single market, i.e. it poses no threat to the integrity of that single market.
The truth is that the G.F.A., and by extension international law, had to be broken in order to impose the current border down the Irish Sea. More specifically, the guarantees made to Unionists in the Constitutional Issues section had to be broken. This section was important, it was at the start of the agreement and was the framework within which the rest of the agreement was set. It set out to establish equilibrium and parity of treatment between the Unionist and Nationalist traditions. The latter’s desire for a United Ireland was recognized and they were guaranteed a future referendum on unity. The former’s desire to remain in the U.K. was recognized and they were promised “that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people.” (G.F.A. p.3) Clearly, a border down the Irish Sea dramatically changes the status of .N.I. and nobody in N.I. has consented to it. The guarantee to Unionists has been demolished, while the guarantee to Nationalists remains, the equilibrium has been disturbed, the political balance shifted in favour of nationalism. That wasn’t supposed to happen, short of an eventual poll on Irish unity. Naturally, Nationalist parties aren’t bothered by the breaking of the agreement that they were so wont to cite in relation to the land border. You’re hardly going to be bothered when the G.F.A. is broken in favour of your political goals.
I am a small u, liberal Unionist, in the past I have transferred votes to the Alliance Party and S.D.L.P., I have never voted for the D.U.P. (or Sinn Fein). I did vote for the G.F.A. in 1998 and am absolutely furious that the guarantee given to me and others in that agreement has been so flagrantly broken. The Irish government, as co-guarantor of the G.F.A. has failed, but, of course, they have to obey E.U. orders. Sinn Fein are triumphant, the S.D.L.P. are in “nothing to see here”/ sweeping mode, trying to pretend that this is just about trade and not the biggest change in political balance since 1922. Perhaps the G.F.A. should be re-named the Humbug and Hypocrisy Agreement in their honour. All their talk about equality was just so much hot air, signifying nothing. My greatest fury is reserved for Mr Johnson and the U.K. government for their inexplicable failure to defend both the integrity of the G.F.A. and the territorial integrity of the U.K. and for turning me into a second class citizen. While the G.F.A. wasn’t perfect, I have no doubt the current dispensation will sour north/south relations, perhaps east/west relations, it will definitely sour relationships in N.I.. There is a danger of a pre-1972 situation in reverse, with a large number of people feeling resentful, betrayed, etc, though hopefully the lesson of the post-1972 period that violence is futile will have been learned.
I only really meant to comment on Poots, who has had to go into hospital for cancer surgery. He obviously felt so guilty about having to supervise sea border checks, that he felt the need to invent threats in order to do what he couldn’t bring himself to do when he was in office. With one person murdered and two others shot by dissident Republicans in the last week, that seems to be where most of the violence is coming from at present.
I see Gregory Campbell has hit the news again, for predictable reasons.
I have to say, what never ceases to amaze me is how so many hate-filled people can somehow convince themselves that they’re, in this case, good Christians [insert whatever other religion you like]. Now I’m far from religious, but fuck me I do at least know how someone who claims to follow Jesus should behave, and the sort of worldview they should hold.
I truly suspect that the Unionists will be beginning to realize the benefits of being part of an Ireland within the EU as opposed to being a part of the UK out of the EU.
Trade, free movement, the removal of barriers is what people want. Beligerant jingoistic isolation is already impacting badly on many of the lumpen communities who wanted Brexit.