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The betrayal of Ireland’s borderlands Politicians look away while families starve

In Stormont, the politicians don’t exist (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

In Stormont, the politicians don’t exist (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)


May 23, 2022   8 mins

“My cousin owns that pub,” Father Joseph McVeigh says as a yellow building comes into view. “I remember the day it was bombed — just five months before Michael was murdered.”

Michael Leonard, Joseph’s cousin, was shot dead by Royal Ulster Constabulary police officers on 17 May 1973. The day before we meet, 40 of Michael’s friends and family had gathered at the spot. Flowers were laid. A small cross was erected. There was wistful talk about a criminal investigation.

“That’s it just there,” Joseph says quietly, half-motioning for me to pull over. For the past 30 seconds he has been anxiously clenching and unclenching his fists. “Michael was alone when he died,” Joseph says. “His mother had sent him out from their home in Pettigo to fetch dinner from the shop on the other side of the border.”

Michael’s crime was to drive without a licence. The police later claimed he had refused to stop at a checkpoint that, it later turned out, didn’t exist. And so they pursued him until, 200 metres from the border, an officer leant out of his Land Rover and fired his gun. Michael was 24-years old. He was due to get married that summer. After that: a family and a career as a cattle dealer.

Father Joseph at the spot where Michael died

“Michael’s death was a tragedy,” Joseph says. “But it’s just one tragedy in hundreds. There are too many to be forgotten. Everyone here knows someone who was attacked.”

***

Carelessly sitting astride the Termon River, Pettigo remains shy about being the only village on the island of Ireland to be divided between the North and the Republic. There is no painted line on the two bridges that connect Counties Fermanagh and Donegal. There is no gift shop. Just a ramshackle Customs Post, its shamrock paint turned to rust, and a statue dedicated to the memory of the four young men who died “fighting against British forces in 1922”.

“Like rats in a trap!” was the verdict of one British newspaper after the Battle of Pettigo and Belleek. Pettigo had been partitioned for just over a year when the IRA moved in, a hundred years ago this week. The British responded with artillery shells, machine guns, trenches and bayonets; they recaptured Pettigo after 12 days. It was once again split in two, doomed to become a front in Ireland’s internal conflict — and a plaything for politicians who view a “hard border” as an acceptable means to end it. Today, you can buy an envelope with euros in the village shop on the Donegal side, cross the river, and post it with a stamp bought from the Post Office with sterling.

Mervyn Johnston’s garage is perched on the Fermanagh side of the river. It was a theatre for the IRA’s season of bombings in 1972. A former part-time soldier in the Ulster Defence Regiment, he was a walking target. Now 83, he knows he’s lucky to have survived. “We had two major bombs and three or four incendiaries,” he tells me. “Oh, and I’ve been shot at.”

Mervyn was sitting on the far side of the workshop when a man came to the door with a box, shouted that it was a bomb and demanded everyone leave. “I was having a cup of tea and thought it was all a joke. But then another chap came in with a gun and took us outside and lined us up against the wall.” The gunman started to ask for names. “Now, I had two lads working for me at the time who were also called Johnston, and I was second in the line and knew that if I gave a wrong name and these lads don’t, one of them is going to get shot.”

Mervyn Johnston: “They’re just lucky I didn’t have a weapon on me.”

So Mervyn told the truth. “The next thing I know there’s a gun pressed to my forehead — a .45 revolver.” When the trigger was about to be pulled, Mervyn quickly ducked; the bullet missed him, ricocheted off the wall and hit one of his apprentices, though not fatally. “Before they could react, I ran off and they fired a few more shots after me. They’re just lucky I didn’t have a weapon on me.”

Did you have one nearby? “Oh yes. I went round and got my SMG [submachine gun] and fired a few rounds at them while they were driving off.” I ask him if, after all the attacks, he still feels the need to look over his shoulder. “The thing is, back then, there was never any problem here with the locals. The attackers came from a long distance away. Even after everything, I would still go across the river to have a drink in the pub.”

***

At Britton’s Bar that evening, Rangers are about to lose the Europa League final on penalties but no one is watching. We are talking about the explosions that pummelled Mervyn’s garage in 1972 when Triona Britton, the landlady, describes how she was almost killed during an attack that July. She disappears upstairs and reemerges clutching newspaper reports from the days after the attack. “Pettigo Baby Narrow Escape,” reads one headline. “I was fast asleep in my cot when the bomb exploded,” she explains. Slabs of concrete and slivers of steel from the car carrying the bomb fizzed through the air. “One piece of shrapnel ripped through the venetian blind and lodged itself in the wall right next to where I was sleeping,” Triona says.

Triona Britton in Britton’s Bar

Three men start to discuss their memories of 1972. “It’s a generational thing,” Frank, 39, says. “Speak to the older men and women, and their memories will be of the bombings. But it’s different for those of us who came after. They had the bombs; we didn’t. I was the first generation to be given the chance to go to an integrated school.”

Is this why younger people, more distanced from the horrors of 1972, are less concerned with the current debate over scrapping the Irish Protocol? “Many people here don’t care about the Protocol,” he replies. “There are more important things for them to worry about.”

***

To understand these worries, go to Belleek. A 20-minute drive away from Pettigo, the border village prides itself on the ceramics produced by its pottery: you can buy a hand-crafted ice bucket for ÂŁ4,200. Seven weeks ago, a food bank opened.

“We were asked to come by the district council,” its organiser, John, tells me. “Things have definitely got worse in the past few months. The price of everything has gone up. The only thing that comes down is the rain.”

Northern Ireland, like the rest of the UK, is staggering through a cost-of-living crisis. But while Westminster, Holyrood, and the Senedd make a pretence of trying to fix theirs, Stormont remains silent. It’s been over a fortnight since Sinn Fein took control of the Northern Ireland Assembly. But what do they have to show for it? A handful of photos from victory night; a few half-hearted appeals for a border poll. And that’s it. Northern Ireland’s latest political revolution hasn’t even made it out of its wrapping paper.

With the DUP refusing to elect a Speaker to the national assembly until the Protocol is scrapped, the region faces months — perhaps even years — without a functioning executive. Until that changes, close to £500 million that could be spent on easing the ongoing crisis cannot be touched. In a county such as Fermanagh where the average wage is £23,000 — 12% lower than the average for Northern Ireland — that absence stings. This time last year, a quarter of children here were living in poverty. Nobody doubts that figure has increased.

“You look at our politicians and feel despair,” John says. “Hardworking people are being forced to go hungry, while their politicians don’t turn up to work and still take home their wage.” He tells me to head to Newtownbutler to see local poverty at its worst. “Since the start of April, we’ve had 18 different families start using the food bank there. And that number is only going to go up
”

***

On 19 August 2019, the Troubles returned to Newtownbutler. Police and soldiers patrolled the fields surrounding the village; surveillance aircraft hovered in the grey sky. A local newspaper had been tipped-off about a bomb being planted. The device was found and turned out to be a hoax, but a second explosive was hidden nearby. When it detonated, nobody was injured. Politicians in both Sinn Fein and the DUP condemned the attack. Then they looked away.

The Lanesbourough Arms Hotel, with its two-story bar, guards the crossroads at the centre of Newtownbutler. It opened in 1820 but now, like almost half the buildings slumped on either side, it is decomposing. Its windows have been smashed in; paint flakes off the walls. Peer through the broken glass and plates are still stacked neatly in the kitchen; an old telephone gathers dust on a shelf; a plastic Christmas tree is garlanded with baubles and dust. Nobody has pulled a pint there since 2004.

Maureen Murray: Food banks are now a “fact of life”.

Maureen Murray shuffles past the Lanesborough whenever she can afford to buy food. “Everything is getting more expensive by the minute,” she says. “But what can we do? We’re all living on the breadline now. Everybody here worries about whether they’ll have enough food on the table next week.” Then she points to her walking stick: “I’m a bomb victim. I’ve always had to struggle.”

It was an October evening in 1972 when the car containing three men drove slowly into Annaghmore, on the border between Fermanagh and Monaghan. Maureen, then 21, looked on with her two siblings as one of the occupants threw a device through the village shop’s window. Unaware it was a bomb, Maureen and Raymond ran towards the building to make sure its owner hadn’t been injured. When the device exploded, Maureen was thrown into the air. Blinded in one eye and with a shattered leg, she has been unable to walk without a stick since. “My brother died by my feet,” she says. He was 24, the same age as Michael Leonard.

“I’m supposed to be receiving some extra money because I’m a bomb victim, but that doesn’t look like happening.” She explains how everything’s been held up by Stormont. “People are talking about that Protocol, but why does that matter if we’re struggling to feed ourselves? Everyone round here uses the food bank. It has become a fact of life.”

Around the corner, Elizabeth and Vincent have picked up their two-year-old daughter. She sleeps in her pram, oblivious to her parents’ anxiety. It is Thursday, and they are dreading the weekend: “By the time it comes, we often have nothing,” says Elizabeth. “It’s normal for us to have a fiver or tenner to spend between us and the three kids [aged between two and seven]. The foodbank is really helpful, but it doesn’t solve everything. When our kids ask for more food, we have to tell them to leave some for tomorrow or the next day.”

Vincent reels off the realities of inflation. “The prices of milk, nappies and wipes have gone up by 10p in no time,” he says. “Then there’s the price of fuel: it’s ÂŁ1.79 for diesel over here. We can’t even afford to drive to the supermarket anymore.” Elizabeth stops rolling her pram back and forth. “The food, the petrol… Fucking everything is going up.”

And what if that doesn’t change? Silence. “I don’t want to think about it,” Elizabeth eventually says. “We’re just about keeping our heads above the water as it is.” Vincent grimaces. “Our politicians are doing fuck all at the moment to help us.”

In a region without a functioning government, where every politician seems to care more about a Protocol passed by accident than whether a family can feed itself, it’s hard not to conclude the same. In England, the politicians are useless. In Brussels, they’re intransigent. In Stormont, they don’t exist.

But this isn’t a story about the Protocol, or Brexit, or the prospect of a united Ireland. It is a story about politics — and what happens when it’s turned into a vacuum; when indifference becomes institutionalised and ordinary people are left to pick up the pieces. During the height of the Troubles, the authorities betrayed you by shooting you in the back as you drove down a country lane. Today, they just let you starve.


Jacob Furedi is Deputy Editor of UnHerd.

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Jeremy Eves
Jeremy Eves
2 years ago

The following closing sentence is largely untrue
During the height of the Troubles, the authorities betrayed you by shooting you in the back as you drove down a country lane. 
Yes there were horrors and atrocities, but those committed by ‘the authorities were very few compared with the bombings, shootings, evictions, and extortion by terrorists and paramilitaries on both sides. The authorities were stuck in the middle of a civil war and mostly did a really good job of preventing anarchy and paramilitary rule often with conspicuous personal bravery.
The authors’s main point about the consequences of absent politicians in the current context is valid. But his cheap shot at authorities shooting people in the back, as if it were a daily occurence across NI, is just that – a sensationalist, unhelpful, cheap shot which is mostly untrue. And it does nothing to help a process of reconciliation.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Eves

Didnt the IRA kill over 3000 people? In a country of 1.5 million, this is as if 9/11 killed 300000. The article ignores the Ghaddafi funding of the Provos. Oh, and my favourite, that Ross McWhirter was murdered because he offered 50000ÂŁ for info on the IRA leaders.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Well said indeed, even if some US readers will find it hard to do the maths.
In fact if 9/11 had occurred in NI it would have meant about 13 dead

..well below Omagh at 29 for example.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

..or Bloody Sunday? You don’t usually expect ruthless terrorists to be wearing uniforms do you?

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

All 15,000 demonstrators on that sunny Sunday were either active or passive IRA/Fenian supporters*. If they didn’t want to get shot they should have remained at home watching the telly after their Sunday lunch. As it was they decided to riot & demonstrate with the inevitable result.
(*99.8% Passive, 0.2% Active.)

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I’m no IRA supporter, or even particularly support a United Ireland, but that truly is a ridiculous statement, as evidenced by reams of testimony. God help us if we live in a country where politicians and even the military can ‘look into our souls’; and decide we are an enemy. It was an overwhelmingly peaceful and unarmed civil rights march, despite some (possible) shots which may have occurred. The paras were almost determined to find someone to punish that day, whatever the situation before them. Bloody Sunday in fact hugely increased support for the provos.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Eves

Tell that to CI Stalker the senior English policeman who investigated RUC collusion with loyalist paramilitaries!! The murder of lawyers wasn’t beyond them nor the policy of shoot first and ask questions afterwards! The Paras provedb themselves to be ruthless savages.
Your memory is vert short I’m afraid. Let us move on armed with Reconciliation though: not lies / whitewashing.

John Smethurst
John Smethurst
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

A former Sergeant of 3 Para who was blown up at Warren Point spent a week with me last year. Picking pieces of his dead comrades up at the scene was forever etched in his memory. He said that from that moment, his men shot to kill. However their instructions were never to shoot in the back…which some broke only to find themselves in legal trouble more recently. He and his men were not on duty at so called “Bloody Sunday”.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Eves

You need only check out his RCP father Frank.&the bunch of contrarian hustlers he moves with.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Eves

That’s simply untrue. When the British army first arrived, it was largely neutral. However, under the direction of the Conservative government in Westminster and the Unionist government in Stormont, it soon abandoned its neutrality and became a instrument of Protestant anti-Catholicism.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

“Armoured cars, Tanks and Guns come to take away our sons”!
Is Ireland ever going to move on ? Or forever remain ossified with hatred?
However it does seem that finally Boris & Co are to cease the vexatious prosecutions that are being perused against former British soldiers*, which has so tarnished the admittedly already dismal reputation the Northern Ireland Prosecution service.
Yet before we rejoice, we most note that the malign influence of Nancy Pelosi & NORAID and others will remain to ‘poison the chalice’.
The ultimate absurdity in all this is that the English taxpayer is funding the whole wretched charade, that is Northern Ireland to the tune of £10 billion per annum. Enough is enough, or as the sainted Oliver Cromwell would have said “For God’s sake go!”

(* Veterans in US speak.)

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I imagine the English deliver the money in armoured cars and tanks but for some strange reason no one ever wrote a song about that.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Not even the ‘Wolfe Tones’ sadly.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

..the “sainted” Oliver Cromwell? Responsible for the murder of Irish men women and children Ukraine style (but more vicious) and the enslavement of 50,000 Irishmen to the Carolinas (who died like flies unable to endure the heat).. that saint is it?
Boy: you guys sure do have a sick, twisted version of what is Christian, just or decent. And your ability to convince yourselves that black is white, false is true and wrong is right is mind blowing.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You are very easily provoked, may I suggest “more haste, less speed”?

Ray Mullan
Ray Mullan
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

And you, sor, are a very provocative troll.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Mullan

Surely even you can do better than that Sir?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

That is much too partisan account of Cromwell’s role in Ireland, making him into a bogeyman rather than the complex individual he was. Few historians demur from the fact that he sacked cities after giving their garrisons a chance to surrender, which they did not. The subsequent sacking was completely standard practice in the wars of that period, and his response was relatively moderate compared to the horrors of the 30 years’ war, which significantly depopulated much of central Europe. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, and Cromwell detested Catholicism, but didn’t kill Catholics in cold blood just because they were Catholics. Wikipedia has a pretty fair-minded article and says among a lot of detail that “The contemporary laws of war were clear: if surrender was refused and a garrison was taken by assault, then its defenders could lawfully be killed. That is; acceptance of a surrender of the besieged after the storming of the breach was at the discretion of the attacker.[18]
If you are going to go down the route of raking up long-past atrocities, then you could be rather more even-handed and mention the slaughter of Protestant planters in the 1641 by Catholics, men women and children, which of course in its turn inflamed Protestant sentiment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

So, in other words, you support a united Ireland?!

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

If you’re going to write an article about Northern Ireland, at least get the basics right.

Firstly, Stormont not existing is nothing to do with the DUP not electing a ‘speaker’. They are refusing to nominate a deputy first minister.

Which leads me to point 2 – Sinn Fein did not ‘take control’ of the NI Assembly. Apart from the fact that the institutions are deliberately set to not allow any one side to ‘take control’, and the DFM role has the same powers as FM, SF has the same number of seats as they had before and Nationalist representation overall reduced!

Which leads me to point 3 – SF has blocked operation of the assembly for 3 YEARS before now and the DUP blocking it for 3 weeks. And yet what does the UK Media do? Report virtually nothing on SF blocking the assembly and report it constantly when the DUP do it.

NI has many problems of which the protocol is probably not the biggest – but it is absolutely harming trade with NI’s biggest market and it is driven by totally unnecessary EU intransigence which is sacrificing peace in return for trade. This didn’t get anywhere near enough comment in this article.

In conclusion, badly researched tosh giving the same old nonsense we can read in the graun or torygraph.

Maybe it’s time to rename the website ‘Herd’.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

The EU is intent upon stealing NI from the UK and can achieve it without doing very much because the Boris government is weak. “I’m Irish’ Biden hates Britain and is doing his bit, threatening no trade deal with UK.

John Smethurst
John Smethurst
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

A theft that is going to save the English Tax payer 10 billion a year, is the acceptable face of Criminality in my view.

RJ Kent
RJ Kent
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

Bet neither EU or Eire really wants to take on such a poisoned chalice, let alone the (dis)united states!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

..a little unfair. I believe the intransigence to be at least 50:50. Surely hassle-free NI exports to the EU (via and including to the ROI) is far more valiable than hassle between GB-NI where tweeks can be ‘engineered’ more easily. Here’s a question? What is produced in GB than NI cannot get from the EU? Just because you don’t trade with your fellow Brits down mean you can’t do all the lovie-dovies with ’em.. why not make your own UK flags and bunting, build yer own Lambeg drums and fifes and print all the royal pictures, posters and mugs you need within NI? You can do with the extra jobs! Importi g fresh flowers and meat etc from “the mainland” is not very green us it? Sure you can produce your own can’t you?

Liam F
Liam F
2 years ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

a bit one sided? turn it on its head for a second :Imagine someone in Roscommon who was used to buying their everyday stuff (plants from a garden centre in Tipperary say) I think they would be annoyed to be told they can’t deal with those people from Tipp anymore. Because even though you feel Irish you now need to import from Nederlands instead because you need to be more European.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

Or Dunce.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

That may all be fair enough comment, but the article wasn’t particularly about the current political impasse, although partly mentioning its effect on a border village.
I think the people of Northern Ireland should determine their own future, but the reality is that no one in mainland Britain, least of all our PM who has shafted his erstwhile DUP allies, cares all that much about it, and that the Northern Irish as a while voted to remain in the EU. So perhaps the current botched arrangements are the sort of thing that was always likely to arise post Brexit.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
2 years ago

The mention of the huge shifts for Sinn Fein “Northern Ireland’s latest political revolution” is totally out too. The union vote was split amongst unionists. That’s why Sinn Fein is the biggest party. There was no major vote shift.
The majority want to stay in the union.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

Off course the majority want “to stay in the Union”, who wouldn’t? But those who pay for this wretched Union are sick and tired of it, the constant squealing for English cash is quite sickening.
To be fair, it’s exactly the same with the bankrupt Scotch.
Astonishing as it may seem there are areas in England far more deserving than these Celtic parasites, the ‘Red Wall’ for one.

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

I sometimes wonder if Boris’s best tactic would be to threaten handing over Northern Ireland, lock, stock and barrel, complete with its bigotry and hatred, to the EU. I suspect the response would be, “What changes in the NIP would you like and how soon would you like them?”

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

Journalism gave up on the facts long ago.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago

Well put: politicians stink.. useless bunch of self-serving, snouts-in-the-trough.. it’s time for all NI voters to move to the Alliance Party and leave the old diehards behind in the past where they belong. Young people of NI: I urge you to vote for major change! Get involved! The future is yours..

Sheridan G
Sheridan G
2 years ago

You might well be right, and so it would be helpful if you pointed out which bits are wrong. I’ve never been to NI and so I’m just a casual observer, but I like to be well informed.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Sheridan G

I do have some experience and find the article ok: it’s not historically complete of course, merely a snapshot to reflect the utter futility of NI hatred. In that I think he succeded. Protocol schmotocol!

Billy Marlene
Billy Marlene
2 years ago

Absolutely. A cheap shot.

My counter is when, as an army sub-unit commander in South Tyrone in 1989 a colleague of mine (an RUC inspector) was murdered in his own home in Armagh City.

PIRA bust through his patio doors and shot him, point blank, in the head in front of his wife and two young children.

Last edited 2 years ago by Billy Marlene
Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

There doesn’t have to be a hard border – the UK doesn’t want one. It’s the EU who insist on it.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Nope! The EU insists on border checks in the Irish Sea to protect the EU from substandard (eg South American) food products and inferior medical products etc. The EU like the US is committed to the GFA and will not trade with the UK if it it ridden roughshod over. The UK is out on a limb: nobody will trade with it. NI is out on a limb from the UK (already out on a limb) so nowhere to go but crash to the ground. Sensible, practical NI (not least NI businessmen of the Unionist tradition) will see (most have already) that the future is with the EU in a federal Ireland ie with NI an autonomous region within the ROI. That is the solution: it’s as plain as the nose on your face! NI is in the magical win-win situation (vs the UK in a lose-lose situation: just listen to Michael Lambert on YouTube).. I’m speaking as a ROI COI, 72 years old: are we discriminated against in the ROI? No: but we are discriminated FOR ie positive discrimination. The ROI is a thousand times better than NI in every way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Liam O'Mahony
Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
2 years ago

Unfortunately, the NIP holds the balance of power regarding UK EU dynamic alignment vs UK EU mutual equivalence.

The latter of which the Progressive EU US Alliance rejects because they reject a networked multipolar world in which they lose power as opposed to global blocism in which they think they will gain power.

As such, there are only two NIP landing zones.

An Irish land customs border with UK EU dynamic alignment or an Irish sea customs border with UK EU mutual equivalence..

The EU-US Alliance seeks an Irish sea customs border with UK EU dynamic alignment which is totally unacceptable to the UK/DUP.

It is now clear that the US actively seeks a CIA inspired United States of Europe to take on the power of the Russia Fed so that the US can solely focus on China.

The motive being to escalate global blocism and the possibility of war as we head into a gdp per capita resource constrained world.

The question is whether Northern Ireland realises that it is in the crossfires of a US driven global geopolitical reordering that seeks to subsume NI and the UK without democratic consent.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

The US no longer drives anything; we are driven. Have you seen our “President”? This demi-cadaver serves to assure the world that sovereign nations no longer exist, that faceless global entities run every institution, that this, indeed, is the new world order long dismissed or scoffed at. Too many of us were and still are complicit in empowering it. I have long had a soft spot for Ireland; its ancient lore, its lilting, unparalleled humor, it’s beauty and romance – and I haven’t even been there. But I’m afraid to tell her and, really, the rest of the world: don’t look to politicians or committees or protocols or agreements. The creatures who run the world would really rather we not bother them and just go away – by any means necessary.

Last edited 2 years ago by Allison Barrows
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

I wouldn’t worry about the Yanks. The Dems in the Senate will be obliterated come November and the GOP are unlikely to imitate Nancy Pelosi in this matter.

Ian Ogden
Ian Ogden
2 years ago

I am sorry to hear how things are with you. If I had my way I would renew the border( only as a token of different countries) but have it open, not managed so you could live and work both sides. Of course this demands honesty of not taking the wrong things across. The little difference then of each others control of movement inside ones own country would be up to the people and Gov,t of each country. Maybe then one day all our politicians will allow that vote for change, if change is needed.
Regards.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Ogden

Thanks. That’s precisely how it should be, and how i believe the UK government would like to see it happen (despite the US propaganda to the contrary.) So what’s stopping it happening? Oh, that’s very simple: the EU and therefore also the government of the Irish Republic.
And by the way, those running the EU aren’t politicians, but bureaucrats, mainly unelected but with their snouts deep in the EU gravy train which the UK was sensible enough to wish to stop paying into. And sadly, those in Brussels have the Irish Republic over a financial barrel.
My grandfather was born in Kilkenny, so i do have some skin in the game, as the saying goes. He was brought over to England as a very young child by an itinerant family (not his own) because his own parents could no longer feed him – one child too many. And yes, the famines were deliberate and the fault of the UK government. But that was the 19th century, and if we can’t all move on from this constant harking back to past deeds of our forebears, we’ll be overtaken by those who don’t. “A warning from history”.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The famines were awful&many turned a blind eye,but they were NOT deliberate…i.e.caused deliberately.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Dunn
Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago

Please explain what is wrong with this article?

Also, as you have some expertise in NI, please help us to understand what is going on there?

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

It’s that the interviewees put on a show for gullible English journalists who blow in and out while in private they keep voting for this
https://twitter.com/GerryAdamsSF/status/1528118085932179457?t=xxTu1xfoY1yVmUtmDyT1Vg&s=09
and the journalists never question it or call it out.

Last edited 2 years ago by David McDowell
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Start with the last sentence and work back.

Graham Cresswell
Graham Cresswell
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

I’m sorry but I will need subtitles for the hard-of-understanding.

Stephen Magee
Stephen Magee
2 years ago

Why is Unheard a magnet for Paisleybots?

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
2 years ago

If people cannot learn to live together – the ordinary people this article is supposedly about – then, like squabbling children, they must be separated. If wallowing in the past continues and wrongs are never forgiven – an Irish tradition on both sides of the border is that grudges are passed on like family heirlooms – then there must be separation as was done in India after WW2 or in Turkey after WW1. If these people refuse to move on, then a hard and policed border becomes a necessity. Their choice.
It’s that simple: settle your differences without revenge and move on in life, or move elsewhere.
The rest of the world – apart from the Irish diaspora such as Biden – has had enough of Irish divisions, bigotry and perpetual hatred. I dare say the rest of the UK would be glad to see Northern Ireland handed over to the EU lock stock and barrel to let them deal with it. They’d be welcome to it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Gardner
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Gardner

I agree: the fallback to 3 counties (13 districts) in an India-Pakistan style separation would have been a better option in 1922 and maybe viable again if the loyalists cannot move on: I guess west Derry, most of Tyrone/Fermanagh and southern Armagh/Down will join the ROI with swaps of land, businesses, houses etc: so NI becomes NEI: RC churches converted to Orange halls and all things British celebrated in glorious isolation. I don’t know if they’ll get the same kick out of all that with no “Fenians” and “Micks” to jeer at? I’m not really sure what motivates these people: I’m an ROI COI pacifist so it’s all rather foreign to me.

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0 0
2 years ago

All Hail the New Nationalism

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Northern Ireland is like a mini Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. To a degree. Still. A mini-Bosnia could have happened had not soldiers been placed on the streets. (Hence the brief ‘honeymoon’ period for the British army in 1969). The difference between 1770s America and Northern Ireland today is that the colonists in the 13 colonies were seen as British subjects – yet the British, the English, Scots and Welsh, have seen the people of Northern Ireland as Irish. At least that’s how I read it. Or perhaps as increasingly Irish as the Troubles wore on. But I think the capacity between Christian peoples, considering Christianity is based on love, for accommodation and cooperation with each other remains strong. That message tends to become lost too. Has done, you know.

TERRY JESSOP
TERRY JESSOP
1 year ago

As an Australian with Irish ancestry (Fitzgerald, you can’t get any more Irish than that), who has never visited Ireland (and never will), I say a plague upon both your houses. Learn to live with each other.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  TERRY JESSOP

Fitzgerald is not really Irish: more Norman (ie English) dating from 1169.. we Irish go back to Newgrage (it was 900 years old when they built the great pyramid of Cheops).. my name means bear (of the plains) extinct in Ireland for 10,000 years.. you Fitzgeralds are Johnny-come-latelys I’m afraid! Fitz is an old word meaning b*****d I’m told. Sorry…

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Had Martial Law been declared on day one ,in September 1969, none of this barbarism would have happened.
Sadly the Prime Minister at the time, one Harold Wilson, lacked the courage to take such a decision, and thus lies “moulding in his grave” whilst this nonsense rumbles on into its fifty third year!

Ray Thomson
Ray Thomson
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

How would Martial Law have helped Catholics who had to wait until 1969 to enjoy the same voting rights as their Protestant counterparts. Had they been extended that right, maybe there wouldn’t have been any ‘rumbling’ to begin with.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Thomson

As you may recall it was Protestant Shankill Road thugs who were causing all the problems in September 1969. Had they been dealt with accordingly it, would have sent a clear, unambiguous message to both communities that feral behaviour would not be tolerated. Sadly that opportunity was missed, thanks to the vacillation of Harold Wilson & Co.

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Thomson

Martial law in itself would not, obviously. But it would have ensured law enforcement while the politics was sorted out. if memory serves, the troops were sent in first to protect Catholics.

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0 0
2 years ago

One thought the Israelis & Palestinians were to take heart from all the new love in borderless Ireland. Oh well Putin started the land grab? Now China & the whole of Asia.
Can wait for the Mexican >< US Land dispute !

Thomas Hutcheson
Thomas Hutcheson
2 years ago

The betrayal was Brexit, or rather the failure to negotiate a Brexit that preserved the maximum amount of freedom of movement of people, goods, and services.

Ray Thomson
Ray Thomson
2 years ago

100%.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
1 year ago

The betrayal came in two parts; Theresa May conceded the ‘backstop’ without discussing trade, based on the EC’s negotiating tactic of introducing ‘sequencing’ not actually included in article 50, and refusing any discussion of managing the border, a border which has existed since 1922 and still exists. As the author says, the currency is ÂŁ on one side, and € on the other, a division which the ROI unilaterally introduced in 1999.
The second betrayal was Benn’s act overriding the government’s negotiating prerogative by passing into law that without a deal, there could be no exit. Johnson and Frost did well to achieve what they did, but that agreement is now enforced rigidly by the EU with full support by much of the British media.

Last edited 1 year ago by Colin Elliott
Ray Thomson
Ray Thomson
2 years ago

A Trumpish, ‘both-sides’ exacerbation of a Tory Party-induced problem posing as some sort of analysis. Utterly stupefying.

Kevin Meehan
Kevin Meehan
2 years ago

A great article I really injoyed the read thankyou Jacob for your input. A very small number of unionist voter’s mainly DUP supporters and hardliners on the loyalist side but the vast majority of the people here support the NI Protocol and voted in favour of it in the NI election 2022. The DUP never supported the GFA and never signed up for the GFA but are now trying to use the wording of the GFA to destroy the GFA

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Meehan

The truth: but not welcome I see..

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Meehan

The real question is why they voted for parties that support the NIP? After all, the unionist vote share was not reduced although it was split. Was it for reasons not to do with the NIP, more local issues perhaps? For stability? Because they would prefer open trade across the Irish border to trade with the UK? Because they want a united island of Ireland?
The NIP could actually be OK. One problem is that it is worded ambiguously and is somewhat self-contradictory and so it can be abused – which is what the EU is doing. The UK Government actually wants to retain the NIP. Its proposals in its white paper to address the actual problems are consistent with the NIP so if implmented, the NIP would stay in place. Perhaps that is why the majority voted for NIP supporting parties (although it certainly isn’t why SF supports the NIP. It sees it as a means of uniting Ireland). But the EU won’t play ball because its aim is not to make it work but to use it to split NI from the UK.
As for the GFA, the EU doesn’t give a rats whatsit because if it succeeds in its land grab of NI (and all the signs are that it will), the GFA becomes irrelevant. NI would be ruled entirely from Brussels with Dublin as the regional government and the NI assembly would have even less legislative authority than it has inside the UK. Hard to predict the future but Dublin would see no reasn for the NI Assembly to exist in a united Ireland with no other devolved administrations so it would probably scrap it.
Do you think that is what the people of Northern Ireland voted for – even less autonomy than they have now and rulers even more foreign and remote and the likely termination of the NI Assembly?

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Gardner