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British Government and Unionist Loss of Power and Status Playing Out

Every week Ciarán Quinn the Sinn Féin Representative to North America sends a letter from Ireland. This week he looks at how the impact of the loss of power and status of the British Government and Unionists is playing out at the cost of the people, economy, and agreements in Ireland. Never miss a letter from Ireland sign up for free here.

a Chara, While the rest of the world was grappling with climate change, the British Government and their supporters in unionism continued to play out their Brexit drama.

The DUP, the largest unionist party, is unlawfully boycotting the North-South Ministerial Council (a joint forum with the Irish Government established as part of the Good Friday Agreement) and threatening to collapse the government if the legally binding Brexit Protocol is not scrapped. The Party claimed that the EU was causing their crisis. Meanwhile, the British Government has continued to threaten to suspend their deal with the EU unless the EU agrees to rewrite the whole deal to the satisfaction of Boris Johnston. None of this makes sense outside the insular world of English Nationalism and Ulster Unionism. We are bearing witness to the loss of power and status in real-time. Boris Johnston came to power on the back of Brexit, anti-EU sentiment, and the promise of a return to a golden age of empire under the guise of, “Global Britain”. His Brexit is failing and he is trying to lay the blame on the EU. The truth is, the empire is gone and not returning. Their policy on reneging on agreements has alienated the EU and US administrations. Global Britain has been reduced to a series of weak trade deals with former British colonies. The DUP supported Brexit, mistaking Boris Johnson's flag waving as an invitation to the party. They were jettisoned when no longer required. Political Unionism is now a minority in the North. It can no longer dictate the terms to others and has been left to rely on a British Government that it does not trust. This week Michelle O’Neill, deputy President of Sinn Féin, called for calm heads and careful words. The EU has offered solutions to some of the trade difficulties. The British have misread this as a weakness and demanded more. The EU is now planning for a scenario in which the British unilaterally suspend the Brexit deal.

Congress members attending COP issued a letter calling on the British Government to honor the Brexit Agreement. This week President Biden met Ursula von der Layden (President of the European Commission). They discussed Brexit. It is clear that the US and EU remain on the side of protecting the Brexit Agreements and preventing a hard border in Ireland. The problem is not that the world changes, that is the nature of the world. The challenge is to recognize, adapt and manage change. Asserting the primacy of politics, peace, and agreement over chaos, threats, and denial is the essential lesson of the last 30 years, and it is a lesson that the British Government and Ulster Unionists have yet to learn. Is mise Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America

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