How Britain’s exit from the European Union created “endless tensions” and stalemate in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is celebrating its centenary on Monday, in an atmosphere of tension unprecedented since the signing of the 1998 peace agreement. Subject matter of contention: Brexit, which imposed control over the goods traded between the county and the island of Great Britain. When instability in Northern Ireland tops the news, British political columnists like to quote from Winston Churchill’s speech in 1922: “The map of the whole of Europe has been reshaped (…) but as the deluge recedes and the waters recede, we see once again the dismal constellations of Fermanagh and Teron, Two Northern Irish Provinces. While Ireland became independent from the United Kingdom on December 6, 1922, Northern Ireland was created a year ago and annexed to Great Britain to protect the British identity of the Protestant Union Territory in the northeast of the island, now that the storm of Brexit has subsided, and as Northern Ireland celebrates the anniversary Centennial founding on Monday 3 May, the map of the UK was changed. Since 1 January, control of the goods traded between Northern Ireland and Great Britain was established, raising trade unionists’ fears of seeing their country abandoned by the British Crown. >> Read: Under tension after Brexit, Northern Ireland is celebrating its centenary in fact, the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit agreement replaced the possibility of a problem on the border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland with a very real problem at the border Between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, this protocol preserves the consistency of Northern Ireland. With a number of European Union (EU) rules while Great Britain could secede from them. This entails inspecting and controlling the goods transported between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and imposing customs duties in the event that these goods subsequently enter the European single market via the Republic of Ireland. Boris Johnson finally reached an agreement in October 2019 with regard to the terms of divorce between London and Brussels. Supporters of Brexit have comfortably celebrated the end of three long years of endless negotiations, particularly on the question of Northern Ireland’s borders. But the Democratic Union Party (DUP) quickly expressed its anger at the establishment of a customs border in the Irish Sea. “Brexit does not apply to the United Kingdom as a whole,” he then lamented the Vice President of the Democratic Unionist Party, Nigel Dodds. Northern Ireland’s prime minister resigns. Boris Johnson would represent a threat in the eyes of Northern Irish trade unionists. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff and the architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Jonathan Powell, was one of them. “The border in the Irish Sea is a real problem for them,” he wrote in the Irish Times, shortly after the deal secured by Boris Johnson. “This issue will increase as the UK moves away from European regulations and introduces new definitions. These limits will threaten their British identity,” Jonathan Powell continues. Facts have proven him right. The entry into force of provisions regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union on January 1, 2021, has caused severe disruption to the supply chain in the supermarket and the delivery of orders via the Internet. Then graffiti opposing customs controls was drawn at the beginning of February in the federal provinces, while the authorities decided to temporarily suspend customs controls in some ports in Northern Ireland in the face of “threatening behavior” by some loyal militants. Fearing that these customs controls would represent a very deep separation between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the Loyalty Communities Council (LCC), which brings together loyal paramilitary organizations, withdrew from the Good Friday Agreement, asserting that any opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol must be “peaceful.” And democracy. ” >> Read: Violence in Northern Ireland: “Brexit destabilizes an already fragile peace” But violent riots in the Federal District nevertheless broke out in early April. The Local Coordination Committees claimed they were not responsible, calling for calm, but asserted nonetheless that there had been a “striking collective failure to fully appreciate the level and nature of trade unionists and loyalists’ anger” toward the protocol. Finally, Arlene Foster, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, was forced to resign on April 28 by her party members who criticized her for not being firm enough about the tariffs. The situation now appears to have reached a dead end and threatens to put DUP in the face of its deficit. “It can only lead to endless tensions, see even the impending chaos,” said Judge Tim Bell, professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London, Northern Ireland. The Unionist Party was already in favor of Brexit at the time of the 2016 referendum. John Tong, a political researcher in Northern Ireland, recalls, “It was not reflected in the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union, particularly in relation to the Irish border,” and a professor at the University of Liverpool. . “The Democratic Unionist Party expected a slight victory from the supporters of the European Union and had no idea what to do when the pro-Brexit win,” he adds. However, 2017 gave the DUP more leverage, with the vote of its ten MPs being the cause. Theresa May was allowed to remain in power after the Conservative Party lost its majority in the House of Commons. But the Unionist Party refused to support Theresa May’s exit plan, arguing that it would have forced the UK to continue accepting EU regulations for an indefinite period. “It’s clear that the DUP misjudged the idiosyncrasies and generosity of Theresa May’s plan which, backstop, allowed Northern Ireland to be treated the same as the rest of the United Kingdom when it came to customs, says specialist Tim Bell. Who knows what magic solution they were hoping for with a plan. Alternative? But trust Boris Johnson to fulfill his word and find one that challenges the cause. ”At the Democratic Unionist Party convention in 2018, Boris Johnson actually claimed that“ no British Conservative government can or should sign an agreement ”to create customs controls in The Irish Sea. ”And this is exactly what he did a year later, as a referendum on the future of Northern Ireland approaches, it seems even worse that Brexit has affected the popularity of the Democratic Unionist Party. Polls show that trade unionism is still ahead of nationalism. In Northern Ireland, the gap narrowed since the 2016 referendum. Demographics have also favored Catholic nationalists for two decades. However, religion is not as political as it was before. For 2011, 45% of Northern Irish people said they belonged to a Catholic family, but only 25% said they were exclusively Irish. In this context, until Brexit, trade unionists appeared to be able to resist in the face of demographic curves. Katie Hayward, professor of political sociology at Queen’s University in Belfast, explains that after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a “growing percentage” of the Catholic population was “comfortable” within the UK. The UK is like a health care system, ”adds John Tong. Although they“ will never vote for unionist parties, ”many of these Northern Irish Catholics“ are very slowly starting to think of themselves as unitary with little to no ” [le terme ‘unioniste’ en anglais s’écrit avec un u majuscule, NDLR]While 56% of Northern Irish people voted to remain in the European Union, Brexit has reshuffled the cards, so much so that the idea of a referendum on Northern Ireland’s future is now on everyone’s mind. The Good Friday Agreement provides for a referendum if “, at any given time, it appears likely that the majority of voters have expressed their wish that Northern Ireland cease to be an integral part of the United Kingdom and an annex to the Republic”. “The question now is not whether this referendum will take place, but when,” said John Tong. This article was excerpted from the English language by Roman Brunet. The original article is here.