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British Silence on Unionist Attacks

“Unionism blames republicans, the Irish government, or the EU …. and John Bull gets to wash its hands and pretend to play the neutral.”


Andree Murphy well known commentator and justice campaigner lays out the failures of unionists which led to recent violence. The threats from various unionists paramilitaries continue and cheered on by political unionism. Meanwhile the silence from the British government is deafening. This was first published in the Andersonstown News

“These riots were the result of British interference in the island of Ireland”. These words were spoken by an independent, London-based journalist last Sunday night reporting on the civil disturbance images that were broadcast across the globe last week.

After a few days of non-stop garbage turning hyperbole into politics, this analysis was as refreshing as it was surprising.

Last week’s street disruption was about Britain and its utter disregard for all of the people who live here. Britain’s disregard for the majority who voted to Remain. Disregard for the Good Friday Agreement. Disregard for the unionists treated with continual contempt by London.

Of course, Britain stopped paying due care and attention to its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement long ago. In particular, the Tory government has stuck two fingers up to its obligations to devolution and impartiality.

England’s decision to leave the EU and to pretend that had no consequences for the north of Ireland started those disturbances. Unionism, who was persuaded (or volunteered) to pay no attention to the resulting concerns about Good Friday Agreement or attention to the impact on the people who live here, is merely reeling in incoherent instability.

Of course, Britain stopped paying due care and attention to its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement long ago. In particular, the Tory government has stuck two fingers up to its obligations to devolution and impartiality.

Like the worst of cads, Britain has been whispering sweet nothings to unionism while its bags are packed at the door. Tories pledge that unionism is special, its place in the body politic is special, its version of history is special and law or due process can be abandoned in favour of this special relationship.

This reached its zenith when the DUP held balance of power in Westminster and far right England brought the DUP along with its pursuit of the hardest Brexit imaginable. And then just as it reached its passionate crescendo in Westminster where Nigel Dodds was Queen Theresa destroyer and King Boris maker, it all came tumbling down. Boris went on his merry way and the DUP were left washed up, with nothing.

Meanwhile our realities were stark. The majority living in the North want to remain in the EU. The demographics are irreversibly changing. The DUP’s traditional vote is declining in favour of more liberal, socially conscious votes. And that combines to change the constitutional position of Ireland every single day. That, my friends, is why unionism is angry to the point of inarticulacy. And Britain not giving a tuppenny damn is just adding to this scorned woman’s fury, though she dares not admit it.

And like the saddest of tales unionism’s insecurity has become an exercise in projection. Unionism’s “narrative” that it is “being left behind” is far more comfortable than saying “yeah lads we are royally messing up”.

Cooking bad-tempered perception until it burns creates a smokescreen for Britain’s abandonment of post-Good Friday Agreement Ireland and the British government is only too happy to allow that. While Unionism blames republicans, the Irish government, or the EU and the commentariat focuses on unionism, John Bull gets to wash its hands and pretend to play the neutral. Again.

Meanwhile it is for the rest of us to focus on defending our peace agreement, and building a new Ireland. A shared future free from this malignant cad’s interference, where reconciliation between all of our people becomes possible, free from smokescreens. All of our people have suffered too much for anything less.

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