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How Brexit Could End 20 Years of Peace in Northern Ireland
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At the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s I used to visit Crossmaglen, a village in South Armagh close to the border with the Irish Republic and notorious as an Irish Republican stronghold.

I would go there with my friend Ben Caraher, a teacher in Belfast who came from the village and was a low profile but important figure in the moderate nationalist SDLP.

Once we were taking a walk along a road in the pretty countryside outside the village, when Ben remarked that one day the natural beauty of the place might attract tourists.

“It is not as dangerous as it looks around here,” he said and then added – in a classic qualification that has lived in my memory for over 40 years – “but you have to be a bit careful about trip wires.”

Powerful roadside bombs, often detonated by various kinds of command wire, were at that time a deadly feature of the South Armagh countryside. They killed many of the 123 British soldiers and 42 Royal Ulster Constabulary police who died there between 1970 and 1997. Described by British home secretary Mervyn Rees as “bandit country”, the area was so dangerous for British forces personnel that they only travelled by helicopter.

Those lethal wires linked to explosives are long gone thanks to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998, but in a broader sense the 310-mile-long border that divides Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic itself constitutes a trip wire which, if touched or interfered with in any way, has the capacity to trigger a political explosion that could end 20 years of peace.

The removal of the physical border with its hundreds of blocked and cratered roads and blown bridges, channelling traffic through a few heavily guarded military checkpoints, was an essential part of the GFA.

Protestants and Catholics, unionists and nationalist communities, which each make up about half of the 1.9 million population of Northern Ireland, could choose to be British or Irish without either being able to dominate the other. A stable balance of power between the two was held in place by an elaborate structure of institutions and laws negotiated by the leading nationalist and unionist parties of the day and buttressed by the British and Irish governments acting in cooperation along with the EU.

This structure has maintained a hard-won peace for over two decades, but it is now crumbling under the impact of Brexit. The referendum of 2016 opened the way for – indeed made it difficult to avoid – the resurrection of the border as an international frontier between an Irish Republic as a member of the EU, with all its rules and regulations, and the UK determined to be outside it.

The radicalism and gravity of what is proposed by the Brexiteers is masked by mumbo-jumbo about “backstops”, “hard borders” and “max fac” (maximum facilitation) borders that will somehow be automatically monitored by technical gadgetry which, though yet to be invented, will apparently be sure to make any human presence unnecessary.

The debate about the “backstop” in the UK ignores the political and demographic realities on the ground in Northern Ireland.

“Brexit is absolutely disastrous for the Good Friday Agreement,” says the author and commentator Brian Feeney, formerly head of history at St Mary’s University College in Belfast. “All this stuff about bar codes and cameras [monitoring the border] is nonsense. They would not last a weekend because people would pull down any cameras or similar arrangements.”

The threat to a hard border is often portrayed as coming from dissident Republican groups that never accepted the GFA.

But these are small, fragmented, under surveillance by MI5 and lack popular nationalist support. More likely are spontaneous protests by farmers and local people on the border determined to prevent an international frontier once again cutting through their neighbourhoods.

Much of the border runs through land populated (on both sides) by a majority of Catholics and nationalists. Any new barrier would probably in practice require the deployment of military force.

After all, the EU is like a club which requires porters at the door to keep non-members out – or ensure that, if they do enter, they abide by the club’s rules and regulations. In the case of Northern Ireland, the guardians at the gate would be customs and other regulatory officials, but these could not be stationed there in the face of local nationalist opposition without police protection; and the police would not come without the deployment of the British Army, which would presumably operate from a network of fortified positions, potentially even blocking many of the 300 roads crossing the border – as they did in the past.

The “backstop” is portrayed as an insurance policy under which all of the UK would remain in the customs union if the UK and EU cannot agree some other way of avoiding a “hard border”. But the latter could not be recreated without reigniting the Northern Ireland conflict, something that neither nationalists nor unionists want to happen, but that might be brought about by the momentum of events, just as it was in Northern Ireland in 1968-69.

Some supporters of Brexit argue naively that the UK government could solve the problem by allowing almost free passage of people and vehicles and relying on cooperation and goodwill to ensure that their passage, and the goods they carry, will be registered electronically.

Feeney is scathing about such plans, saying: “All this stuff about bar codes and cameras is nonsense because only the good guys will obey them. The rest would cross the border from Cavan and Monaghan where there are no bar codes or anything else.”

Cheap but illegal Brazilian beef and American chicken would thus flood out of the UK and into the EU through the unguarded Northern Ireland breach in its defences. The EU could not permit a trade deal with the UK that allowed Northern Ireland to become a smugglers’ paradise.

But the problem of the Irish border is not primarily about trade and commerce, important though these may be.

ORDER IT NOW

What is really at issue here – and the “backstop” is unwittingly at the centre of this – is the shifting balance of power between the Catholics and Protestants on the island of Ireland. Brexit may be divisive in England but is even more so in Northern Ireland because it plugs into the 400-year struggle between the two communities, a historic confrontation which over the last hundred years has gained its most visible expression in the island’s partition.

Many observers in Northern Ireland are frightened by the seeming carelessness with which the British government and the Conservative Party have presided over the rebirth of the Irish Question. They appear to ignore its toxic legacy as an issue that has bedevilled British politics from the First Home Rule Bill in 1886 until the partition of Ireland in 1921, and again during the 30-year conflict from the first Catholic civil rights march in 1968 to the GFA in 1998.

The latter agreement was under pressure but was working until the Brexit vote in the UK reopened old issues and old wounds. Northern Ireland voted Remain by 56 to 44 per cent but sectarian divisions have widened.

“That was in 2016 but since then [the political situation] has become completely orange and green,” says Feeney. “Polarisation is absolutely extensive, really bad.”

Just how bad tends to be underestimated in Westminster because British politicians, aside from Tony Blair, have traditionally had a blind spot about Ireland until things go irredeemably wrong and it is too late to do anything about them. The same is largely true of the British media according to commentators in Belfast.

“Those that covered the conflict 20 years ago catch on pretty quickly about what is happening here,” one local journalist told me. “Those that are here for the first time are completely bewildered because they don’t know what happened in the past.”

People who live in Northern Ireland have an acute sense of how problems that had been neutered, though not resolved, by the GFA are stirring into life.

“I am grappling with the idea of a hard border which I would call a Second Partition of Ireland,” says Tom Hartley, a Sinn Fein veteran and former lord mayor of Belfast. He is baffled by British actions that appear so much against their interests, saying that “they had parked the Irish problem, but now Ireland has moved once again into the centre of British politics”.

Not all the arrows point in the same direction – though there are too many for comfort pointing towards an escalating political crisis. Neither the nationalist community nor Sinn Fein, which has won more than two-thirds of the nationalist vote in Northern Ireland in recent elections, wants to go back to war.

“The vote [in 2017 when Sinn Fein won 70 per cent of the nationalist vote] shows that they like Republican politics, but they don’t like Republican violence,” says Feeney. Above all, he believes that there “has been a substantial alienation of the nationalist community away from the notion of a devolved government and the role of the British government”.

Nationalists have done well out of the peace. Catholics no longer face religious discrimination when it comes to jobs, housing and justice, as they did in 1968.

“There is a whole generation of people – you see it in business, in academia, in the media – who might not be Shinners [Sinn Fein] but they have a much more secure sense of themselves, are more middle class and upwardly mobile,” says Hartley.

Sinn Fein are conscious that demographically the nationalist community is growing faster than the loyalist one: already 51 per cent of school children are Catholics compared to 37 per cent who are Protestants. Within two years, the Catholics may be the majority of the voting population, though this does not necessarily guarantee political power.

I lived in Belfast between 1972 and 1975 writing a PhD about Joe Devlin, the northern nationalist leader in the first decades of the 20th century, at the Institute of Irish Studies which was part of Queens University. These were the worst years of the Troubles. In 1972 alone some 479 people were killed, including 135 soldiers, and 4,876 were injured.

I got used to the sounds of bombs and gunfire and the sectarian geography of Belfast became imprinted on my brain. Along with the rest of the population, I automatically calculated the real proximity of danger without giving the matter much thought.

I once showed a visiting American publisher around the city and, years later, he told me that he had been struck by one moment during our tour when he had queried me about the route we were taking, saying: “I thought you said this street was dangerous?” And I had replied, as if stating the obvious: “No, I said that that side of the street was dangerous, but the side we are on is safe.”

Almost everything is safe in Belfast today, though the sectarian boundaries are largely the same as they were 50 years ago.

I drove through the site of Harland and Wolff shipyard that at its peak employed 35,000 men, almost all Protestants from east Belfast. Today it is the site of the Titanic exhibition which is, along with other developments, dwarfed by the enormous yellow gantry crane marked H & W in giant letters. Housing is, and has always been, segregated in Belfast; and east Belfast remains a Protestant stronghold, aside from a small Republican nationalist enclave called Short Strand pressed up against the Lagan river. It is protected by one of the many peace lines or walls in the city topped by metal staves.

“They got higher when the Protestants discovered catapults,” said a local observer, who pointed to the grills over the windows and the slates on the roofs that look normal but are made out of metal so they do not break when stones hurled over the peace wall hit them.

I once had a shabby flat off the Antrim Road in north Belfast, but I could not remember the name of the street. This used to be a particularly murderous part of Belfast because of the jigsaw puzzle of Protestant and Catholic districts permanently engaged in low level war against each other, most often in the shape of tit-for-tat or retaliatory killings.

“Get your retaliation in first,” was an old Belfast joke, though retaliation was not necessarily local. If a Catholic was killed in Short Strand where the Catholics were weak and outnumbered, then the retaliatory killing of a Protestant might be arranged from Ardoyne, where the Catholics were strong and well organised.

Likewise, if a Protestant UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) soldier was shot by the IRA in County Fermanagh 70 miles to the west, there might be a tit-for-tat revenge murder of a Catholic in Belfast.

Peace may have come but militant commemorative murals showing fallen heroes and historic scenes on the side walls of houses are repainted every few years.

“The Republican ones became rather ethereal a few years ago, but now they are showing more guns,” commented a friend. One enormous mural on a wall in the Ardoyne shows a wounded James Connolly, the socialist leader, in the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Rising in 1916.

Elaborate commemorative shrines to fallen Republican martyrs, who died fighting the British security forces, are common all over west Belfast, the political heart of the northern nationalist community. But the British Army fortresses in the area have all gone, the places where they once stood used for public housing or community centres. The Falls Road, which used to be one of the world’s most menacing streets, looks spruce and cheerful with fewer closed shops than most British cities.

I had mostly lived close to Queens University during my three years in Belfast, but when I went back the houses along University Road had been demolished, which was no great loss, and replaced with better looking buildings. The pub where I used to drink, the Club Bar, had been replaced, so far as I could see, by a small Tesco store.

Could Belfast and Northern Ireland go back to the three-cornered battle between Protestants, Catholics and the British security forces which I had witnessed?

Everybody in Northern Ireland has a lot to lose and not a lot to gain, but some of the most important struts of the agreement that established long-term peace have been cut away by the British government in pursuit of Brexit or because some in its ranks see the GFA as a Labour project that mistakenly diluted British control over Northern Ireland.

The bits of the GFA that have been abandoned are important.

The British government is meant to be neutral between unionists and nationalists so as to enable it to play a mediating role between the two communities. David Cameron and later Theresa May have shown their support for the unionists, a bias that became total when Ms May became reliant on the DUP for her parliamentary majority.

Similarly, the British and Irish governments were supposed to cooperate if local power sharing arrangements failed, as they have; but the government has shown increasing hostility to the nationalists in the north and to any role by the Dublin government.

The most destabilising factor in Northern Ireland today is the British government itself.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, Britain, Northern Ireland 
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  1. Feeney is scathing about such plans, saying: “All this stuff about bar codes and cameras is nonsense because only the good guys will obey them…”

    This sounds right out of the National Rifle Association. America’s, not the UK’s. Is the North the only district on either island where handguns are still legal?

  2. Stogumber says:

    Cockburn’is idea seems to be that there is an inevitable choice between freedom and peace – so to conserve peace mankind must at all costs decide against freedom.
    This is not a new idea. It was the core of Bolshevist propaganda between 1945 and 1989.

  3. I don’t know what the North is like, but the South (a place I’m fond of) is now so pozzed that there’ll be a lot fewer volunteers for the rattle of the Thompson gun than there were 40 years ago.

    It’s a terrible thing for a country calling itself a democracy to fail to implement a vote because bad men with guns won’t like it. You should be ashamed, if you can remember what that feels like.

  4. tyrell says:

    Problem is the brexiteers promised there would be no hard border. They said if the UK and republic, nationalists and unionists plus the EU do not want it it will not happan. They pretended there was no problem. The truth is more than a few brexiteers believe the hard border is part of getting back control. Northern Ireland voted remain by 54%. If they had known the result of the leave vote would be a hard border the remain percentage would probably have been Evan higher.

  5. Another scummy Cockburn – a very nasty family (with one good looking female member).

    BREXIT is about saving England from EU-mandated Islamic colonization. Who cares about its effect on criminals in Ulster or Ireland?

  6. Sean says:

    The British people who voted for Brexit are the destablisers, not the British government (most of who were against Brexit). The government of the EU is hardly going to reward the UK for leaving; the EU have good reason for throwing a spanner in the works.

    No one in any part of the border country, or the north of south of it, could be under any illusions about what they were doing in participating in mass demonstrations against the (easily circumvented) post Brexit customs posts. Everyone knows it would mean new Troubles and a seriously high security border, even if it only lasted a couple of years until there was a Catholic majority. Britain has no problem in letting the North go join the South by means of a Brexit-style referendum in Northern Ireland. It is hardly possible to doubt that Britain would vote for Northern Ireland to go in an all-UK referendum on the subject.

    The British government might improve its vulnerabilities in Brexit negotiations and Northern Irish security by making concessions, but Britain has to negotiate and deal with pressure from every corner of the Earth. Britain would never be taken seriously again by anyone if it was seen to allow a neighboring country to use menacing warnings to in effect detach a part of the United Kingdom. People in the South and almost a majority in the North might approve of it as a de-re-partition, but the world would see things very differently.

    Concessions to the Irish Republic that are being suggested to avoid a new Troubles are impossible for reasons of global grand strategy. They would lead to a fundamental re–assessment by other countries of Britain’s total position in the world and a devaluing of British diplomacy. It is more feasible to have no Brexit at all than have Britain viewed as a prodly independent feather duster.

    The middle class Protestants are going to continue to leave, probabally at an accelerated rate after Brexit, and Northern Ireland is going to have a voting majority for leaving the UK in a few years. Britain treating Northern Ireland as a part of the UK is not about Brein keeping Northern Ireland all, everyone knows it is going. No, Britain must keep up appearances and the nation state system.

    • Disagree: YetAnotherAnon
  7. I’ll take a break from my normal anti-Irish trolling (I actually have nothing against the Irish, though Cockburn consistently strikes me as disloyal) to ask a simple question:

    Why does there have to be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the event of Hard BREXIT?

    Cockburn states:

    After all, the EU is like a club which requires porters at the door to keep non-members out – or ensure that, if they do enter, they abide by the club’s rules and regulations.

    The EU has no police and no army. So Dublin can simply ignore these rules.

    Why not dispatch Jeremy Hunt to Dublin to inquire about the possibility of simply ignoring these EU rules after a hard BREXIT?

    • Replies: @tyrell
  8. DFH says:

    The most destabilising factor in Northern Ireland today is the British government itself.

    The most destabilising factor are the terrorist Irish threatening to bomb people because they might have to have to spend five minutes at a checkpoint crossing the border (although probably neither will happen).

    But Cockburn won’t stop crying and whinging while apologising for terrorists with one of the flimsiest justifications in history.

  9. “Cheap but illegal Brazilian beef and American chicken would thus flood out of the UK and into the EU through the unguarded Northern Ireland breach in its defences. The EU could not permit a trade deal with the UK that allowed Northern Ireland to become a smugglers’ paradise.”

    One is reminded of the US-Canada border during US’s Prohibition era. In any case, cheaper booze and cigarettes would likely flow the other way, so it is all good.

    Yep, it is important to militarise the borders to keep bleached chicken out, just as long as we can turn a blind eye to third-world migrants coming in across the Med and other routes.

  10. tyrell says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    The price difference between goods in the north and south is more than 25%. One family in five shopped in the north at Christmas. If you add a vat reduction post brexit plus deregulation (chlorine washed chicken, hormone injected cattle etc) the difference in prices could top 50%. That would start driving businesses in the south out of business. Up comes a hard border and then organised smuggling begins. The gangs will be sectarian because the north is still sectarian.

  11. @tyrell

    Chlorinated chicken isn’t accepted by the UK either. The proposed US-UK FTA (which as an American I am a major proponent of) foundered on the issue. For some reason trade negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic found the matter important enough to scuttle the entire deal. Though perhaps it had more to do with Wilbur Ross and Boeing using BREXIT as an excuse to attempt to sink the Bombardier factory in Belfast.

    Stranger things have happened I suppose. We have Charles de Gaulle’s hatred of American chicken to thank for the fact that the light truck industry was never brutalized by Japanese competition (LBJ imposed a 25% tariff on light trucks in response which proved to be permanent).

    I can’t speak the “hormone injected cattle” matter, but I will note that there’s no particular reason to suspect the United Kingdom is about to become some sort of deregulated corporate paradise. Lots of highly industrialized countries are not in the European Union and still have extensive regulations. Japan, obviously not in the EU, has one of the world’s most protected agricultural sectors.

    VAT reduction is possible (15% minimum required by the EU) but then how would HM Revenue replace the money? Hiking the income tax?

    Granted, IF the UK does choose to use the BREXIT in such a manner as you propose then presumably Dublin would refuse my proposed arrangement for basic protectionist reasons.

  12. Technomad says:

    Why can’t Britain offer Ireland a special deal to keep the border open?

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  13. @tyrell

    “That would start driving businesses in the south out of business. Up comes a hard border “

    If Eire want to implement a hard border that’s their right. Are the IRA in whatever iteration going to start shooting Irish soldiers (yes, I know the history but it ain’t 1921 no more)?

  14. tyrell says:

    As far as hormone injected cattle is concerned there is already a farmers lobby for it in the UK. When done correctly the beef is safe to eat. You have that in america plus cattle factory farms. A huge amount of poo is created which is hosed up in the air and then lands on peoples houses a couple of miles away. American beef cannot be imported to the EU because of this. If the UK allows this they get a trump free trade deal. The same applies to chlorinated chicken. Its not allowed in the UK because of EU regulations. Breaking free of EU regulations was a big part of the brexit augment. The republic currently exports 250 million pounds worth of beef to the UK each year. The UK could reduce this by changing regulations. The south simply could not compete (bear in mind rip off Ireland where goods are already 33% dearer than in the UK). The south armagh ira still exists. The reason? Profitable smuggling of red diesel from north to south (red diesel is dyed vat free fuel reserved for UK farmers).

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  15. tyrell says:

    At the end of the day brexit was all about immigration. David Cameron came in to power promising to reduce immigration to 10s of thousands. In his last year of office 500000 came in. Only half of those were EU. The UK had complete control over the other 250,000 non EU immigrants but still let them in. Its all about the money. Keeping the house prices up by maintaining a housing shortage thanks to immigrantion. ( the south of England housing shortage is an eternal 2500,000 units). Teresa may promises to reduce immigration post brexit to 250,000 mostly non EU migrants per year. Same old same old.

    • Replies: @anon
  16. @tyrell

    Feedlots (“cattle factory farms”) are mainly used in the winter and for fattening prior to slaughter. They’re also used in Europe. The below photo is from Dorset:

    True enough that bovine growth hormone is prohibited in the EU, and restrictions on the use of antibiotics (which for whatever reason also enhance livestock growth) are more stringent.

    I’m not convinced that the UK would permit the use of bovine growth hormone in beef production because that’s very unpopular with a lot of British voters. Of course concentrated lobbying can be quite effective.

    Incidentally American beef is legal in Europe if it conforms to EU regulations, but the total amount is limited by quota (likewise we have a quota on European dairy, much of which arrives in the form of Kerrygold).

  17. a devaluing of British diplomacy

    How do you devalue a complete zero?

    And of course, the heckler’s veto in international politics, who would’ve thunk it? Of course, who’s surprised Cockburn thinks it’s an excellent riposte to Brexit, waving the fear of mad bombin’ Paddies at them?

  18. Shannon says:

    The referendum of 2016 opened the way for – indeed made it difficult to avoid – the resurrection of the border as an international frontier between an Irish Republic as a member of the EU, with all its rules and regulations, and the UK determined to be outside it.

    The main issue of the Brexit ”deal” is NATO. The UK could lose the most senior military position it holds in Nato after Brexit. NATO and the Chatham House want to continue the PNAC, i.e. they want to invade IRAN.

    Brexit: UK could lose its most senior military position …

    http://www.independent.co.uk › News › UK › Home News

    ”Britain could lose the most senior military position it holds in Nato after Brexit, experts have warned amid concern over how the break with Europe could affect the UK’s defence capabilities.”

    • Replies: @hennypenny
  19. Shannon says:


    Veterans For Peace Activists Still in Irish Prison

    By Ray McGovern

    Former Maj. Ken Mayers, USMC, and former Army paratrooper Tarak Kauf, part of a 7-person VFP Delegation to Ireland, were arrested and jailed Sunday for an imaginative protest against “neutral” Ireland’s timidity in allowing the U.S. to ship armed troops off to war through Shannon Airport.

    https://raymcgovern.com/

    ”Shannonwatch are a group of peace and human rights activists based in the mid-West of Ireland. In the tradition of the Irish anti-war protest that began almost a decade ago, they continue to hold monthly protest vigils at Shannon on the second Sunday of every month. They also do continuous monitoring of all military flights and rendition-linked flights in and out of Shannon and through Irish airspace.

    Shannonwatch’s objectives are to end U.S. military use of Shannon Airport, to stop rendition flights through the airport, and to obtain accountability for both from the relevant Irish authorities and political leaders. As a member of PANA it actively supports its campaign against the integration of Ireland into the U.S. and other military structures, and in particular the use of Shannon Airport by the U.S. military on their way to and from their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

    http://www.shannonwatch.org/page/documents

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  20. @Shannon

    So if I understand you correctly, you wish to reorient the foreign policy of your country (population 6.5m) to directly oppose a global superpower (population 327m). Not only that, but your country’s prosperity is dependent on said superpower’s corporations and you have no military defenses.

    Let’s imagine for a moment that Shannonwatch succeeds in its goals and that Ireland prohibits the use of Shannon Airport (and, presumably, other Irish airports) to assist American imperialism and colonial wars. What do you suppose America might do to Ireland in response?

    Are you mentally retarded? Do you want to harm your own country? Do you worship brown people and consider their welfare more important than that of Irish people?

    I’m reminded of when Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme decided to prominently oppose the Vietnam War, a conflict which in no way harmed Sweden. This resulted in the standard visa for Swedish citizens being shortened to two days among other consequences. In other words his virtue signaling ended up directly harming the people he was nominally supposed to represent.

    Shannonwatch’s members should instead start asking themselves why their country, which struggled so mightily to become free of Britain, now has a homo-sexual Indian ruler.

  21. The real question is: is there a British nation & had it ever existed? So called Protestants & Catholics are, nationally, British & Irish.

    Irish, despite the vicissitudes of history, are a nation.

    But British are nothing more than “extended” English, and I am not quite sure whether even Scots are a nation, or an ethnic subgroup of northern English.

  22. @Leon Haller

    Gosh. A Breixteer who tells the truth about his thoughts instead of lying about sovereignty and being totally confused about economics.

  23. @Leon Haller

    Its not the EU that opened the UK for Islamic colonization, it started long before the UK joined the EU, and will continue after the UK leave the EU

    The majority of MPs in both the Labour and Tory party will continue with their population replacement program, brexit will not stop the process, in fact it may speed it up

  24. conatus says:

    “Sinn Fein are conscious that demographically the nationalist community is growing faster than the loyalist one: already 51 per cent of school children are Catholics compared to 37 per cent who are Protestants. Within two years, the Catholics may be the majority of the voting population, though this does not necessarily guarantee political power.”
    Aside from strict counting there are a good numbers of Catholics whose living is tied to being tethered to the UK. The UK supplies the money and the UK has the big economy, all the Republic has is a gay Indian Taoiseach who wants to import 2 million immigrants to make Ireland browner.
    That sounds like a winner.

  25. More likely are spontaneous protests by farmers and local people on the border determined to prevent an international frontier once again cutting through their neighbourhoods.

    If by “protests” you mean violence, it will be without Irish-American support this time.

  26. @Leon Haller

    EU is a fail. It is an economic failure. The Euro is a failed currency. What the EU did to Greece is criminal. The Netherlands just elected an anti-EU party to be its leading party. Macron has resorted to turning black tanks on the people of Paris. Thanks to EU/Merkel policies, Sweden is now known mostly as The Rape Capital of Europe. In many parts of Europe, even police are afraid to go into Muslim areas. I don’t see how anyone can absorb these facts and still sing praises for the dying EU.
    Globalism and elitism are simply not what most of the world wants.

  27. @Shannon

    Defense from what exactly? Is UK under attack? UK has its own nukes, no one is going to attack it. Except immigrants.

  28. Flip says:

    So what happens if the UK decides to hand Northern Ireland over to the Republic of Ireland? Could the Protestants really stop that? Would being an Irish Protestant really be so bad given that the South has moved away from institutional Catholicism?

  29. anon[337] • Disclaimer says:

    Many observers in Northern Ireland are frightened by the seeming carelessness with which the British government and the Conservative Party have presided over the rebirth of the Irish Question. They appear to ignore its toxic legacy as an issue that has bedevilled British politics from the First Home Rule Bill in 1886 until the partition of Ireland in 1921, and again during the 30-year conflict from the first Catholic civil rights march in 1968 to the GFA in 1998.

    well you can always steal their food again and call it a “potato famine”

  30. anon[337] • Disclaimer says:
    @tyrell

    Its all about the money. Keeping the house prices up by maintaining a housing shortage thanks to immigrantion.

    same thing going on where i’m at in the U.S. – one bedroom apts now rent for $900+ per month and when i got here 20 yrs ago it was only $305

    this immivasion is great if you’re a millionaire who owns an apartment complex or a billionaire who doesn’t want to pay Americans an honest wage at his chicken processing plant but its terrible for the average citizen

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