Posted by Jim on December 9, 2017
“… the DUP never accepted the Good Friday Agreement … Don’t forget, Foster left the UUP because of her opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.”
Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. December 10, 2017
The first point to make is that despite the huge odium they have incurred, the very personal humiliation they inflicted on Theresa May and the international embarrassment and ignominy they heaped on Britain, the DUP got nothing.
Leo Varadkar was being generous when he said what changes there were since Monday were ‘stylistic’. ‘Cosmetic’ would have been more accurate.
Foster’s ‘six substantive changes’ are, in fact, six statements of the bleeding obvious spelt out for DUP dummies.
For example, the paragraph beginning: ‘Both Parties [EU and UK] recognise the need to respect the provisions of the 1998 Agreement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent.’ As if before yesterday they didn’t? You might like to notice in passing that the DUP never accepted the Good Friday Agreement, never mind respected its provisions but also that their fig leaf, the St Andrews Agreement, is not mentioned at all. Don’t forget, Foster left the UUP because of her opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.
The other changes to please the DUP are equally anodyne. They pledge ‘unfettered access’ for The North’s businesses to the UK internal market and the integrity of The North’s place in the UK’s market. None of that was ever in question except in the paranoid politics of the DUP Brextremists. The Irish government never wanted a sea border. Why would they, given the billions of euros of goods they send across Britain as a land bridge to the EU? Varadkar completely outfoxed the British and DUP on that.
Yet, Arlene’s MPs (who kept her well away from the negotiations in her Fermanagh fastness) told her they weren’t entirely satisfied but they ran out of time and agreed only ‘in the national interest’. The British press say Theresa May just had to face them down because the EU had given her an absolute deadline and nothing was more important than getting to Phase 2, trade talks.
So in the absence of other solutions there will remain ‘full alignment’ with the rules of the customs union and single market ‘which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement’. Exactly what DUP Brextremists like Depooty Dawds [Deputy Dodds] didn’t want and resisted on Monday. As a result, the DUP has threatened to vote against the final agreement despite their explicit support for Brexit legislation being written into their dirty deal with the Conservatives.
Aside from the cross Border aspects of yesterday’s agreement, there are vital provisions for maintaining the rights of EU citizens in The North enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, including European Convention on Human Rights and importantly, healthcare in other EU states. As the Taoiseach said: ‘We have achieved everything we wanted to achieve.’
The Republic with the EU26 [the other countries in the EU] behind it easily outweighed the UK, a lesson for Brexiteers.
Sadly, despite the British government being in flagrant breach of their GFA obligation to be ‘rigorously impartial on behalf of all the people’ here, after having just spent a week placating one party to the exclusion of all others, the Taoiseach in typical Fine Gael style went out of his way in several paragraphs to address Unionists’ concerns ‘in particular’. By contrast, in his statement running to 1,000 words he had 55 words for Nationalists in The North who Enda Kenny left swinging in the wind for six years. Long past time for Varadkar to start respecting northern Nationalists’ representatives.
Still, as someone tweeted yesterday, if the Good Friday Agreement was Sunningdale for slow learners, Friday’s agreement was Monday’s agreement for the DUP slow learners.