(Cr)Ash Wednesday

So…the Talks have collapsed. The Blame Game begins. No matter what the public statements say, the real debate…the real rancour is within parties. Spokespersons who are put forward (like Simon Hamilton of DUP) are essentially safe pairs of hands.

BREXIT is almost the only game in town. The British Government is no longer an honest broker. (Was it ever?) but the Westminster numbers show that Theresa May needs the DUP more than the DUP needs the Tories. May has no leverage…she has given the DUP millions to shore up her government.

So…no deal on Stormont? Well rather like BREXIT and the Tories who think that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, there are DUPers who see things the same way. Any deal involving an Irish Language Act is simply a step too far for the core supporters of the DUP.

Likewise the Sinn Féin leadership who might forlornly hope for joint sovereignty, there is the reality that they need Stormont more than DUP does. For a start, Direct Rule is the only way that Equal Marriage and Abortion can get on the statute book.

here was never likely to be a deal. And even though, it was well-telegraphed in the past 48 hours, Sinn Féin still looked shell-shocked. The DUP have Westminster influence. Sinn Féin have nothing. It would be easy to blame Mary Lou McDonald but she is not there long enough. And she seemed happy enough to leave the explanations to Michelle O’Neill. Success might have had two mothers. Failure has just one mother.

Humiliating as it is, an agreement without an Irish Language Act, would have been even more humiliating for Sinn Féin.

We have moved from the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 to the Ash Wednesday Disagreement of 2018. In six weeks we might be asked to celebrate the anniversary but tonight it looks shallow.

It seems to be in tatters. Those who opposed it…DUP especially have won. A ham-fisted, cobbled-together set of creative ambiguities designed to put moderates (like UUP and SDLP) in charge and marginalise DUP and Sinn Féin has not worked out that way. While UUP and SDLP might blame the British and Irish governments, they need to look to their own failures.

The Good Friday Agreement HAS achieved Peace. I don’t know how many funerals I attended in the 1970s. Obviously because of my background, there were more Catholic than Protestant funerals………but nevertheless going to the funeral of a (tortured for hours) victim of a Shankill Butcher or a victim of an IRA car bomb explosion in Belfast…it all concentrates the mind. Peace is a very good thing.

But it is a Peace without Resolution. And worse…a Peace without Integrity.

Does anyone seriously doubt that we have moved out of a phase of Post-Conflict.

Welcome to the next phase…Pre-Conflict.

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5 Responses to (Cr)Ash Wednesday

  1. benmadigan says:

    I don’t think NI is moving into a pre-conflict phase. Remember the EU was originally set up to stop conflict in Europe and I doubt if the 27 will allow it to develop in the midst of brexit negotiations. We’ve got a separate strand for ireland and a veto and the backing of our “gallant alllies”.
    Anyway, here are a few take home messages from the NI talks debacle

  2. Bernie says:

    Sadly I think your last sentence is on the money.We are moving into ‘cold war’. We have ‘peace’ but no understanding ;division and no mechanism for resolution.

    • Thanks Bernie.
      I think the moment has passed. The dynamics/demographics of 2018 are different from 1998…..both here and in the Republic.
      And the world has changed as well. Who would have foreseen Trump and BREXIT?
      Getting nostalgic about the Good Friday Agreement and trying to return to that position simply wont work.
      Creative ambiguity is one thing but a lie is another. The “Agreement” was sold to unionists as a solution that was an obstacle to a United Ireland. And the “Process” was sold to nationalists as stepping stones to a United Ireland.
      Cant underestimate Peace of course and the radio saying “a body was found at Glencairn” or whatever.
      Maybe the end of Peace justified the means of a Lie.
      But this looks and feels like 1965 again.

  3. Deborah in Dublin says:

    Sinn Féin is strongly committed to peace and Mary Lou also made special mention of reaching out to unionists in her inaugural speech where she was installed as Sinn Féin’s leader.

    I think she will be a stabilising factor in all of this.

    • Vince says:

      Yeah, Up the Rebels, Tiocfaidh ar la was an ingenious bit of “outreach”, not just to Unionists but also all of the victims of physical force Republicanism over the years.

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