Friday, December 4, 2009

The lesson of history

December 4th 09

The lesson of history

There is understandably enormous curiosity among everyone this Blog meets about the current crisis in the political institutions and the sharp words that have been exchanged between the Shinners and the DUP.

At one level it’s about the tranfer of powers of policing and justice but at another deeper level it’s about the principles of equality, and justice and democratic change, underlying the Good Friday Agreement.

The reality is that the northern state was created to ensure a unionist majority and unionist domination. And the status of nationalists was institutionalised, in a way not seen in Ireland since the penal laws, into that of inferior and third class citizens. You know the record of discrimination and injustice and repression. This Blog intends to return to this theme next week.

So, after decades of one party unionist rule and British direct rule, the political institutions are about delivering equality and partnership into every facet of life in the North. The institutions are not there for the optics. They are there to deliver. If they aren’t doing that then what’s the point? Common sense stuff you might have thought.

But not for the DUP.

The reality is that it’s now 2009 – not 1969 – or 1920 or for that matter 1690. And we’re all living in an Ireland governed democratically by all-Ireland institutions, and by unalterable equality and powersharing mechanisms within the six counties.

In that context, the deliberate refusal of the DUP and the failure of the British government to fulfill their explicit commitments under the Good Friday Agreement and St Andrew’s Agreement – including devolution of policing and justice – has become totally unacceptable.

While Sinn Féin is accused of making threats over the future of the institutions, All thinking people know that this is a bogus accusation. Sinn Féin isn’t in the business of making threats and anyway these are not just Sinn Fein issues.

The reality in the six counties is that the greater the political inequality, the lesser the political stability. That’s the lesson of history.

And while nationalists and republicans have been prepared to continually bend themselves to help this peace process, a key political condition has always been the maintenance of a system of equality and partnership as the basis for peaceful and democratic evolution towards a united Ireland.

That’s the bit the DUP – and their ideological counterparts in the Northern Ireland Office – hate the most.

But the British and Irish governments need to realise that’s why things are in difficulties now. And they need to ensure that in keeping with the commitments made at St. Andrews, that the full devolution and implementation of Agreements needs to happen. At St. Andrews all of the parties agreed that signing up to that Agreement meant that the transfer of policing and justice powers would take place by May 2008. We are long past that agreed date.


This Blog comes to you enroute to Wicklow which was one the foremost counties in the United Irish Rising of 1798. Michael Dwyer, who is credited with inventing guerilla warefare, fought long long past the Rising in the Wicklow mountains, The memory of Michael Dwyer is still strong there. Anne Devlin a key participant in the planning of Robert Emmet’s Rising of 1803 was a relative of Michael Dwyer. She was to endure torture and a life of poverty rather than betray her friends.

During that great revolutionary period between 1919 and 1923 Wicklow was represented by Erskine Childers a TD in the First Dail. He was executed in November 1922 by the Free State government.

Now the people of Wicklow, like others throughout the southern state, are under threat from their own government. Michael Dwyer must be spinning in his grave - at least that’s what your man says. Me? It’s all about fightback, standing up for our rights, putting the government in its place. That is out of government buildings.

Back to Belfast at first light we are planting one thousand ash trees in the Stormont estate. The intention is to do this in one hour. So if you like trees and you want to get into the Guinness Book of Records join us at 11 am on Saturday morning.


Paul Doran said...

The 26 County State are not doing enough to sort this issue out. The GFA is a working document which must be lived up to by ALL parties. There is a lot at stake here and I am mad has hell at what is not being done. The DUP Leader needs to show the malcontents in his party and elsewhere that he has leadership qualities, so far he has failed.The Brits are the Brits and need to wake up and see what is going on. The Southern Media need to push this issue to the forefront.

Can I Also mention a night this coming Thursday in Dublin

Thursday 10 December, 7:30 p.m.
Public meeting
The budget: A response from the left

Speakers: Michael Taft (research officer, Unite); Cllr Cian O’Callaghan (Labour Party); Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Féin); Cathleen O’Neill (community activist, Kilbarrack); Eugene McCartan (CPI).
▶Matt Merrigan Hall (55 Middle Abbey Street)
Organised by Dublin District, CPI

Baile Átha Cliath
Déardaoin 10 Nollaig, 7:30 i.n.
Cruinniú poiblí
The budget: A response from the left

Cainteoirí: Michael Taft (oifigeach taighde, Unite); an Cllr Cian O’Callaghan (Páirtí an Lucht Oibre); Eoin Ó Broin (Sinn Féin); Cathleen O’Neill (gníomhaí pobail, Cill Bharróg); Eugene McCartan (CPI).
▶Halla Matt Merrigan (55 Sráid na Mainistreach Láir)
Á eagrú ag Ceantar Bhaile Átha Cliath, CPI

Micheal said...

Of course that's the bit they find hard to swallow, although I wouldn't go so far to say as they hate it.

Democracy, and all those fine and related political terms, sounds great. Such words roll of the tongues of so many politicians.
But how many of them can truly grasp these concepts.

Most words in the english language actually describe concepts. Concepts have to be experienced and mathched with each word to be fully understood.
How many people even know what their talking about. This is babel. This is what we're up against.

Of course democracy sounds great, until you realise that the "Them" in the "Us and Them" are in the overwhelming majority. All of a sudden democracy and self-determination become shockers.

So how many people really believe in these bedrock political concepts. It'll be very interesting to find out.

Timothy Dougherty said...

Reality in a word in not a matter or either or, not either this or that. Reality is a fact or state of understanding ,The reality of the all, the beginning of forever. A point of moving persistence . Your so right Gerry it is not 1920 , but it is late in 2009. The failure of the British government to fulfill their explicit commitments under the Good Friday Agreement and St Andrew’s Agreement – including devolution of policing and justice ,unacceptable or not is a fact or reality. Ireland is at a A point of moving persistence , if they understand this as fact or not.
History is our teacher and we learn or not,the facts and truths are there, this is up to us.

Mr Reality said...

Gerry, most people who support Sinn Fein have been prepared to cut the DUP some slack, because, as we all know, a lot of the backwoods men in that party are not quite ready to step into the 21st century just yet. However they must realise that patience is wearing thin and it is make-your-mind-up time.
If the plug needs to be pulled on their antics then so be it. Nobody can say that Sinn Fein did not bend over backwards to help the lame ducks in the DUP across the threshold of a better future for all the people of Ireland north and south.
I think it needs to be impressed upon the DUP that four of the six counties now have nationalist majorities and that situation is going to continue with all the ramifications for the unionist population.
The sooner the DUP come into the real world and start co-operating with the rest of us for the good of the people as a whole the sooner we will begin to put our problems behind us.
Their present messing about and keeping their heads in the sand does the people who support them no favours and just postpones the inevitable. Time to get real Peter.