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I went and found something myself:

You need to read this Twitter thread about Northern Ireland

The following Twitter thread is from the comedian and script writer Jack Bernhardt. He openly admits to being "no expert" but in one Twitter thread he's given a clearer description of the absolute mess in Northern Irish politics than anything I've seen in the mainstream media (before or after Theresa May's vanity election).

The short version is (I think): Sinn Fein is boycotting DUP's current leader for her role in the corruption scandal. This leads to stalemate. If another electio is called and there is another stalemate, direct rule looms. UK sends a representative to try to break the stalemate, he has so far failed. Now the general election means DUP is part of UK government so UK can not be an effective arbiter.

And North Ireland could really use a government, given the role of the Irish border in the Brexit negotiations.

Does that hit the essential beats?

by fjallstrom on Mon Jun 12th, 2017 at 03:11:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Power sharing was originally designed as a process to mitigate the polarisation between the Unionist and Nationalist communities by forcing their political representatives to work together if they wanted to have a modicum of local power.

Initially this involved the Official Unionists and SDLP having to work together. However the more they worked together, the more the Unionist and Nationalist vote migrated to the more extreme DUP and Sinn Fein parties who were suspicious of the whole process: Sinn Fein, because they really wanted a united Ireland and thus didn't want N. Ireland to be a viable entity, and the DUP who regarded Sinn Fein as terrorists they really didn't want to have anything to do with.

Eventually Sinn Fein and the DUP became the majority parties in each community who had a veto on anything happening. It was thus all the more remarkable that the two hard-liners Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness (ex-IRA chief-of-staff) found a way to work together, and in fact did so very well.  So much so that peace was restored even if many wounds remained.

But on the ground things remained polarised and Arlene Foster exacerbated tensions by being nakedly sectarian (and incompetent and corrupt) in her approach.  Eventually the goodwill and stability created by McGuinness and Paisley (and his immediate successor Robinson) ran out and Sinn Fein withdrew consent. Ministers are appointed by the d'Hondt method but the main representatives of both communities have to agree to participate and thus effectively have a veto on the whole process.

Sinn Fein may be hankering after the old days when they weren't interested in making N. Ireland "work", and instead advocated for a United Ireland.  The DUP are hankering after the old days when Unionists had untrammelled power and didn't have to work with Nationalists who they regard as terrorist sympathisers.

So it would take a lot of leadership to put the whole jigsaw back together again. Enter, stage left, an incompetent Tory Government now formally allied with the DUP. In addition to this, the Tories were trying to make the devolved government do their dirty work for them by forcing social welfare cuts.  This was especially embarrassing for Sinn Fein as they are a left wing party criticising the Irish government for doing just that down south...

Meanwhile the relatively moderate Official Unionists, SDLP and Alliance have lost all their Westminster seats and did relatively badly in the local assembly elections. So there isn't much of a market for moderation...

Sinn Fein thus have little incentive to engage and every excuse for vetoing the whole process.  They can set very difficult pre-conditions  - such as no welfare cuts, increased investment, support for Irish language, and above all, no hard border and watch the DUP/Conservatives struggle to deliver...

Given that the EU, too, has made a resolution of Irish border issues an early priority in their negotiating mandate, and the Irish Government is absolutely opposed to a hard border, the British Government has an immediate problem on is hands: how do you have a soft border with the UK out of the Customs Union and Single Market?

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 12th, 2017 at 06:55:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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