IT’S THAT IRISH BORDER AGAIN!!
We have been here before, in October 2016 to be precise. My first scheduled lecture for the 2016/17 season was changed to BREXIT!!
That October for the first time I searched Google for a map of Northern Ireland!! Six months before neither I nor anyone else was very interested in Ulster, which what is the locals call Northern Ireland. But that October, the media in America and Europe was full of maps of that border between the Republic and Ulster, with many commentators turning their attention to the forgotten terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
In October 2016 it was clear to me that Mrs May – remember her! – would never get the UK a new Trade Agreement with the EU until she dealt with that border!! It was true then for Mrs May, just it is today for Boris Johnson – that border is “a circle that cannot be squared”. It is an impossible task. Boris’s Internal Market Bill is the latest attempt by England to do the impossible. It has upset everyone whether in Ulster, the Irish Republic, the EU, America and now the Irish diaspora in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps more important for Boris, just as Mrs May discovered, large numbers of his own Conservative Party.
For centuries the ‘Irish Question’ plagued the Parliament in Westminster, bringing down both Ministers and Governments. Today is no different!!
Ireland was the first colony England took by force and Ulster is the last vestige of that English colony. In 1921, when negotiating independence for the Irish Republic, London ‘chickened out’ from a just and final solution to the ‘Irish Problem’. It allowed the Ulstermen to create the political anachronism that is today’s Northern Ireland; thereby perpetuating once again the “Irish Problem”.
The French Colonists – the ‘Pied Noir – in Algeria held the French Republic to ransom with their demands that they and Algeria were forever French and an indissoluble part of France. Just as today, many in Ulster proclaim their unswerving loyalty to the British Crown and their fierce determination to remain part of the UK. Thereby holding the UK to ransom, from this hangover of Empire and last vestige of the ‘Irish question’.
It took a de Gaulle to ‘square that French circle’. Does Boris Johnson have the political courage to attempt the ‘unthinkable’ and finally change the constitutional position of Ulster in the United Kingdom?