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The Irish Backstop Would Undermine The Good Friday Agreement. But Not In The Way You Think!

Posted by DeadAnarchistPhil on January 31, 2019


Photo Credit: Getty Images

You have probably heard for the last twelve months about the ‘Irish Backstop‘ during the Brexit negotiations. It is essentially a guarantee by the UK Government that there will be no return of a ‘hard’ border (One with check points) between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, less this would cause friction between the Unionist and Republican communities at the least or contravene the Good Friday Agreement altogether.

It was one of the ‘Red Lines’ laid down by UK Prime minister Theresa May and the EU, a red line that has been thoroughly exploited by the European Union, the Irish Republic and remain voters alike. So much so that it has become the focal point during negotiations and the discussion and debate of it in both houses of the UK Parliament frequently.

I am not saying there is nothing to worry about as Unionist and Republican terrorist groups would take any opportunity to start a campaign against each other and the public too. There is a very real danger violence could start once again. However, the way the UK Government has used it as a ‘red line’ and make some kind of bargaining tool later on, is disgusting. Also the way the EU and the Irish Republic have also used it to give the UK a bloody nose in negotiations, has also been equally disgusting.

With the fear of violence being used as political leverage, the UK accepted the backstop, this would then in theory guarantee no hard border on the island of Ireland as there would be a ‘customs Union’ providing frictionless trade. The issue with this is that the UK would be stuck in a supposed ‘temporary’ customs union with the EU until it could provide an answer to the border question in Ireland, an answer that is possibly going to take a long time to find. So if the UK leaves the temporary customs union after the UK economy has transitioned from the EU (but not created a new trade deal, as that probably wouldn’t happen either until the UK has answered the border question), then it could be seen as the UK breaking the Good Friday Agreement.

However, this week one of the UK politicians who worked on the Good Friday Deal, Paul Bew, has said that even entering in to the backstop is a breach of the agreement. You can read his piece here. He basically says that because the ‘Withdrawal Agreement‘ (which would contain the temp customs union) would involve handing power over to the institutions of the EU, giving them power over North and Southern Ireland, would contravenes the Good Friday Agreement, as

“… regulations, previously within the disposal of the parties to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement within Northern Ireland, would be handed to agencies outside their control...”

He continued “The startling effect of this would be that a Good Friday Agreement – created in 1998 to ensure bottom-up consent – would now be replaced by a top-down arrangement. This would not protect the Good Friday Agreement but subvert it.

Mr. Bew also warned that “The suspicion will be aroused among them [The Unionist population] that the Republic of Ireland will have, under the Backstop, a greater directive power over Northern Ireland affairs. It will take politics in Northern Ireland beyond the legitimacy of the model agreed in 1998.

However, this doesn’t mean there is no solution, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Bew says

In the interests of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, any Backstop arrangements which might be agreed primarily to protect the economy of the Irish Republic in a context of crisis can only be temporary. In short, the obligations of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement – which the backstop claims to protect – require that it can only be a temporary arrangement and this must be put in explicit, legally binding terms.

So, in short the backstop has to have a time limit written into it that all sides agree to, or it breaks the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Though with the current political fudging, feet dragging and unwillingness to discuss the issue properly, I cannot see this happening.

2 Responses to “The Irish Backstop Would Undermine The Good Friday Agreement. But Not In The Way You Think!”

  1. Hiya Prenin! 🙂

    Thank you for the welcome back! Sorry I’ve been gone, but life and health issues got in the way. I have missed blogging, I just didn’t miss the politics winding me up 😉

    Talking of politics, I agree with you… they’ve made an absolute mess of negotiations and there’s next to no planning in place in the event of a deal not being struck before March 29th. The EU has also not made it easy either, but it is possible they’re waiting to the last moment before they put a time limit on the backstop.

    I believe May – was and still is – holding the threat of a no deal up to the EU to get what she wants. Which makes sense from a negotiating point of view, after all if you don’t have a trump card to play then you have no way of getting what you want.

    However, having said that though… that would assume the UK knew what it was doing! I still find it hard to believe the UK, a country of expert diplomats and negotiators, has conducted these negotiations so badly. It’s like they’re doing it on purpose.

    As for the right-wing wankers, I had zero trust in them from day one to do what’s in the interest of the country and the people. Their threat to turn the UK into a European Singapore if our demands are not met, may have been their plan all along.

    Hope things are good, all the best! 🙂


  2. prenin said

    Hi Phil! 🙂 ❤

    Welcome back – you were missed!!! 🙂 ❤

    I have about three months food stored, over £1,000 to cover bills should the shit hit the fan and enough medication stored to last six months. :/

    Forward planning is none-existent, the software for HMRC won't be ready until 2021, let alone the hardware, the ports that are supposed to handle ferries which are supposed to ease the congestion at the channel ports don't have the depth to handle the big ferries, no infrastructure, access to the ports is inadequate, these smaller ferries will not be financially adequate unless the Government gives them a subsidy to cover the additional cost and lower income.

    And we are stuck here because a right-wing bunch of wankers see the opportnity to make a lot of money out of people's misery… :/

    Blessed Be my friend!!! 🙂 ❤


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