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Letter to the Editor...

Dear sir,

Your correspondent Noel Dorr, former Irish ambassador to the UN, takes Boris Johnson to task for claiming that  agreeing to the Irish backstop arrangement would "mean violating the Act of Union of 1800, and the very basis on which this country [the UK] is founded". ("Unionists have nothing to fear from backstop deal with Brussels", Opinion, 17/10/2018).

He notes that the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement is enshrined in an international Treaty lodged with the United Nations, was implemented in Ireland by some quite radical changes to our Constitution, and was enacted into law in the UK by Northern Ireland Act 1998,which repeals and supersedes all previous relevant UK legislation. It therefore defines "the constitutional status of Northern Ireland" quite differently to the rest of the UK.

Seamus Mallon once famously described the Good Friday Agreement as "Sunningdale for slow learners", in reference to the very similar agreement in 1973 which sought to end the N. Ireland conflict but which was sabotaged by unionists. Perhaps the Irish Backstop will come to be known as the Good Friday Agreement for slow learners when it is finally agreed as it merely underlines the fact that the constitutional position of N. Ireland is already quite different from that of the rest of the UK, and that continued access to the Single Market and Customs Unions for N. Ireland is a very beneficial economic arrangement of no constitutional significance whatsoever - in the same way that Greenland is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark even though it has withdrawn from the EU.

Hopefully it will not take the 25 years it took for the Good Friday Agreement to replace the Sunningdale agreement for the UK (and the DUP), to come to this realization, as we may be in for a period of very antagonistic "no deal Brexit" relations in the meantime.

Fintan O'Toole notes that "the latest Future of England survey has received some attention for the breathtaking revelation that fully 83 per cent of Leave voters and 73 per cent of Conservative voters agree that "the unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland" is a "price worth paying" for Brexit that allows them to "take back control".(The DUP has entangled its destiny with the English Shinners, Opinion 16th. Oct.)

It is to be hoped that the British people themselves will not have need of a peace process any time soon if the consequences of a "no deal Brexit" are as severe as many people fear. It is always easier to pursue a particular course of action when it is other people who will have to suffer the consequences.

Kind regards,



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 12:05:26 AM EST
Boris Johnston does not care for truth or legal reality. He is the British Trump, saying things that may or may not be true, but which play to the prejudices of his intended audience.

There is no point writing long screeds explaining why his harumphing is wrong; Boris will chuckle and move on to the next lie. Rather it is best to point to his long history of deliberate lies and ask the audience to draw their own conclusions about this current nonsense.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 07:57:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously, I don't agree, or I wouldn't have bothered to quote and write the screeds I have written. Boris' and May's inaccurate depiction of the constitutional status of N. Ireland and how it would be impacted by "a border in the Irish Sea" actually provides the Irish Government (and the EU) with an opening to draft a backstop text which is explicitly in line with the Good Friday Agreement and explicitly rejects any change in the constitutional status of N. Ireland without the agreement of the Irish people, North and south.

The Irish Government is giving nothing away here (not already conceded in the GFA) while inserting text which explicitly addresses the claimed threat to the integrity of the UK that a border might (even symbolically) represent. It remains, then, only to ensure that the border is as friction free as possible, something the DUP and UK government have been vociferous in claiming is possible with the use of new technology, etc.

If it is possible to do at 208 official border crossings (and many more unofficial ones), how much easier will it be at the handful of air and sea ports which handle UK trade, and which already implement agricultural and phytosanitory checks on food and other products moving between N. I. and GB, and many other checks on goods coming in from third countries.

If the DUP want to have any say in how these checks are implemented at local level, they will have to agree to the restoration of the Stormont Executive, something they have been steadfastly refusing to do on terms acceptable to the nationalist community. The EU could even insert text into the Backstop agreement giving Stormont the final say in how it will be implemented, knowing full well that Sinn Fein will never agree to a restoration of controls at the land Border, and that the N. I. economy will crater if import/exports cannot happen if they cannot be processed anywhere else.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 08:58:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point of the DUP is that they simply do not concede to any other political organisation the right to determine what Ulster's relationship is with the rest of the UK.

And that actually includes the Westminster Govt. Their "loyalty" is entirely one-sided. It is one of demands, if anything be demanded of them in return, the answer is "NO".

They hate the GFA and their sole purpose in the last 20 years has been to find ways of breaking it. They may claim that they want an open border but, tbh, a "no deal" that rips the GFA apart is pretty much their absolute heart's desire.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 10:04:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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