Lord Trimble amongst The Dead

Lord Trimble,  arch Unionist, intellectual Loyalist and convinced  Brexiteer, was laid to rest.

An Orangeman, a man of fascist-type Vanguard rallies, whose leaders worked with Loyalist paramilitaries and called for Catholics to be exterminated. A man who supported the reactionary Loyalist Workers Strike. A man who participated in  the Orange Order Siege of Drumcree and the  Garvaghy Road stand-off which was linked to the death of 3 children.

British, Unionist, anti-Catholic, anti-Irish  to his finger-tips.

An unpleasant character, by all reports. Rude, cold, arrogant, easy to anger.

Ostensibly, a man of peace, authority and caution, far-seeing, percipient, worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the run-up to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement Lord Trimble insisted his  people must not linger on in the past but embrace the present.

Yet he did exactly the opposite.

Lately he supported Brexit,  hindering any move forward on the Northern Irish Protocol (NIP), contradicting judicial  findings  that the NIP breached the 1801 Act of Union  and supporting Unionist refusal to accept a SF First Minister in Northern Ireland.

He ultimately encouraged a tribute to the past, the supremacist  past of Unionism that lives on in present Unionist  parties.

Comment: RIP Let the dead bury the dead

Lord Trimble acquiesced to  the 1998 (Belfast/Good Friday) Agreement because

 a) he had no other choice. The British, Irish  and USA governments offered no alternatives to Sunningdale Mark 2, except Joint Sovreignty with the Irish Republic. A fate worse than death for Unionists/Loyalists.

 b) the IRA/SF were already on board pursuing peace. Being off-side and left out, was not a good look for the Unionist/Loyalist image and

c) the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement secured another 25 and counting years of Unionist hegemony in Northern Ireland.

Queries: What was there  not to like?

A mere quibble about power-sharing for slow learners?

 Lord Trimble knew Unionist/Loyalist  hard-liners were not slow learners.

A long, long time ago they had learnt  how to wield slogans in their favour.

   “No Surrender” and “Never, Never, Never”  guaranteed their place in Northern Ireland and  Westminster, particularly when  the Conservative Party needed to be make up numbers  to form a government.

NB: The Conservative party in England were comparatively slow learners in this regard.

“Brexit is Brexit” and “Take Back Control” came much later.

Unionists/Loyalists had no intention of, nor are they ever  going to, share power with the IRA/SF.

Parity of esteem is a foreign (EU?)  concept to them.

Since 1998, the Stormont Assembly has staggered from one debacle and collapse to to the next.

Unionists  forever walk in smaller “No No No” circles, a minority in the “wee pravince”  they once dominated.

After the latest elections the DUP refuse to participate in the Stormont Assembly, thus blocking everything.

Ostensibly because they do not like the NIP which the British government they supported negotiatiated, ratified and attempted to implement to a certain extent.

Ostensibly because they will not play “bridesmaid” to a SF First Minister.

Comment: Unionists/Loyalists and Westminster are not yet sick of Ireland, not yet sick of being where their supremacism is  unwanted.

Remember: Unionist/Loyalist  attraction to Northern Ireland  is not rooted in love of place and people but in their desire to control the people and impose their will upon everybody living there

Today Unionism/Loyalism/The Loyal Orders are shadows of a past, flickering in a world in which the living and the dead meet, haunted in these summer months by the legacy of 10 dead IRA Hunger Strikers.  

The Stormont Assembly  music has stopped.

Unionists/Loyalists will not permit the Assembly to function unless they get what they demand.

The rest of the parties and MLAs gather at the door, coats on, ready to leave if the DUP gets what it wants. 

If not, what are all the conversations about a “New /Shared Ireland about?

Payback time for the DUP

 Today, hardline Brexiteers in the ERG (a Conservative party group who will use anything and anyone, no matter what ensues, to fulfil their Britannia Unchained fantasies and ideology) and their henchmen and women in the DUP  had  their demands satisfied. They warmly welcomed the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill to Westminster parliament.

It shows that:

  • the European court of justice will not have a role in Northern Ireland
  • a green/red lane  set-up i.e. no checks on goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland; checks for those going to the Republic of Ireland

Query:  What does a lorry with a mixed load do? Which lane does it use? British? Irish? Both?

  • the NIP has no effect in the UK
  • UK ministers reserve powers to override other parts of the NIP (and presumably any other International Treaty) if they deem it necessary.

Remember: 1) domestic legislation cannot overrule an international treaty – it if could, no government in its right mind would ever sign one.

2) Any attempt to vary the provisions NI Protocol by use of UK law is illegal as it violates  Article 27 of the Vienna Treaty governing Treaties. A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty. This rule is without prejudice to article 46.

Back in 2017 the DUP negotiated a £1 billion“Confidence and Supply” agreement, as brokered by Jacob Rees-Mogg of the ERG, to prop up PM May’s minority government.Mutual interests converged and the deal was done.

True to their supremacist instincts and desire to wield power, the DUP and NI Unionism in general have carried on pushing with the ERG for the hardest of hard Brexits ever since.

The NIP blocked Unionism’s drive to conserve power and hegemony i.e.  Unionist /Orange Order leadership or dominance over all others, in NI.  The border shifted to the Irish Sea, thus subverting their place in the UK. NI remained in the Single market and Customs Union, thus  potentially subverting their unfettered power in NI.

Add in the SF victory in the May 2022 Local Assembly  elections, coming top in the number of seats, flanked by the constitutionally neutral Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. The only surprise was how long it took for the UK Government to prepare its long-announced NIP Bill to redress Unionism’s “manufactured grievances”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and the EU, Liz Truss said the government is basing its move on the “doctrine of necessity,” saying it has no choice but to act.

The UK government’s “doctrine of necessity”  means the necessity of Johnson keeping his job by placating the ERG and DUP.

It means the necessity  for the ERG and DUP to lie,  cheat,  break the law, anything, to gain power and keep hold of it.

Remember: Legally, necessity rarely excuses a breach, and only when (inter alia) the State’s act is the only way to safeguard an essential interest against a grave and imminent peril, and when no other essential interest is seriously impaired by the breach

Well Unionism would say their essential interest in NI was in grave and imminent peril, wouldn’t they? Because it is, isn’t it?

 If the UK Govt  hadn’t acted to prop up Unionism in NI, they were facing a SF administration in Northern Ireland, further loss of Unionist supremacy and a probable SF administration in Dublin within a couple of years.

Which certainly wouldn’t suit the Minister for the Union, PM Boris Johnson himself.

Or the DUP which has no intention of ever playing “bridesmaid” to Sinn Fein in Stormont

Brexit, the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) and the Conservative Party

The Conservatives have paid, and look as if they are going to keep on paying, a heavy price for  their 30 years of anti-EU madness.  It has destroyed one Conservative PM  after another. The total stands at present at 4 and counting: Margaret Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron, Theresa May  – all   wiped out politically  by the party’s divisions over the EU.

The Conservatives have  managed to get Brexit done and  expel most of the “soft” Brexit supporters and Remainers  from the party. Yet now it’s the turn of  their latest  leader  PM Boris Johnson  to  ride for a fall over the NIP, spurred on by the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) and the European research group (ERG) of Brexiteer Tories  who are convinced Brexit cannot fail and the harder the Brexit, the better.  

As well as Tory Brexiteers, senior government figures are reported to have extensively consulted the DUP on the substance of the new  Brexit law. People in Northern Ireland are not altogether pleased that only the DUP is being ‘consulted’ on such a sensitive bill. They don’t like the DUP’s opinion having preferential status over other Northern Ireland Assembly parties like Sinn Fein, Alliance or the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Or that the DUP minority opinion is allowed to override the expressed will of the majority (SF, SDLP, Alliance) who are happy enough with the NIP.

Remember: The majority of people in NI and the Stormont Assembly they elected a few short weeks ago want the NIP and they want it to work .

Comment: Widespread dissatisfaction with PM Johnson’s policy over the NIP sends out very negative signals for the future of NI and its place within the UK. Power-sharing would be impossible with 1) a hard border on the island of Ireland and 2) DUP rule strong-armed into place via Westminster against the democratically expressed wishes of more than half the population in Northern Ireland.

Query: What happens if SF, SDLP and Alliance then withdraw from the Stormont Assembly?

On the other hand, PM Johnson’s  Brexit bill probably won’t get through the Houses of Commons and Lords.  The more extreme it is,  the less chance it has of becoming law as PM Johnson lacks the numbers to push it through due to the 148 Conservative MPs who Voted No Confidence in him Monday last.  Should it get through, its passage through the Houses of Parliament could take up to one year. It will be challenged on legal grounds. Apart from the DUP and TUV, it isn’t wanted in Northern Ireland and would be unworkable in practise.

PM Johnson argues it is needed to persuade the DUP to join the power-sharing executive in the Stormont Assembly.

Comment: It will fail in this purpose because the DUP have no intention and no incentive to get Stormont  Assembly up and running.  Once they are in, PM Johnson won’t be “consulting” them any more. The Stormont Assembly  will have a SF First Minister and the DUP will be relegated to Deputy First Minister status.And the DUP will have no other leverage.

Effects: Unilateral legislation riding rough-shod over the NIP to please the ERG and the DUP  will infuriate the EU and the USA, trigger trade retaliations and block the UK’s participation in the €95bn Horizon research scheme.  It would recklessly jeopardise the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and future Trade Agreement with the USA . Brussels will implement sanctions and has even threatened a trade war  – but is likely to wait until the Bill passes – if it does.

PM Johnson  was told that any breach of the Northern Irish protocol would be “economically very damaging, politically foolhardy and almost certainly illegal”.

Yet he appears hell-bent on pressing on with it even though he knows, and his Cabinet knows, and the Conservative Party knows they  either accept the NIP or embark on a trade war with the EU, a war they cannot win;they  either accept the NIP or abandon all hopes of a Trade Agreement with the USA, an agreement they will not get; they  either accept the NIP or trigger Irish Re-Unification, a process they cannot stop.

Refs

https://www.ft.com/content/0dee56c0-fdfa-11e8-ac00-57a2a826423e

https://www.ft.com/content/5aae5ac9-9af9-4a81-8cf6-5abcfef75d1d

https://www.ft.com/content/1acd84fe-bac8-4e16-b4b7-750016d37ee8