The State of the Union
A Letter from Ireland
I am back in Ireland, and it’s good to be home. The sun is out. Snowdrops are blossoming, and daffodils are sprouting. I’m planning the next set of trips around St. Patrick’s week and Easter.
While the seasons are changing, unionism remains frozen. The leaders of unionism joined together to take a case to the Supreme Court claiming that the agreement struck between the British Government and the EU, the Irish Protocol, was illegal.
That challenge was lost this week. The unionists had claimed the protocol was “unconstitutional”, which is a strange claim to make as Britain has no constitution. The parliament elected by the people is sovereign and can make and change any law. The British government ultimately believes that it is bound by no law as it can always change the rules.
That culture and that practice are not compatible with international law and agreements. So the British believe that it can make and break international agreements and laws. They believe that they can make and break agreements on Brexit. That elections can be canceled, suspended, or rescheduled to suit their political interests.
That they can undermine the Good Friday Agreement and European Convention on Human Rights by denying families access to the courts, inquests, and judicial investigations into the killing of their loved ones in the past.
While the British parliament is sovereign in its jurisdiction, it cannot unilaterally change the rules of international agreements. That is why the international community is crucial to safeguarding progress in Ireland. The EU and the Irish Government are signatories to agreements and have recourse to legal actions. The US acts to remind the British Government of its responsibilities.
It is always better to resolve issues before they get to court. The Irish Government should make clear to the British Government that it should stop its proposals on the past and return to the previous agreements or face action by the Irish Government in the European Courts. The Irish government should be prepared to stand over the rights of Irish Citizens killed in the North of Ireland during the conflict.
The Good Friday Agreement paved the way for a Bill of Rights which would protect the rights of citizens from parliamentary interference. These proposals have been objected to by the unionists with the support of the current British government. It appears unionists only want constitutional protections when it suits them.
Have a great weekend.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.