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Why Did the Anglo Irish Agreement Fail

Category : Okategoriserade · by apr 19th, 2022

Unlike previous attempts to resolve communal antagonisms in the North through regional institutions that required trade union cooperation for their success, this agreement exists exclusively between the sovereign governments of London and Dublin. This reality severely restricts the room for manoeuvre open to unionist resistance. Prime Minister Thatcher met with Paisley and Molyneaux on 25 February and offered them their own consultation process. Whenever the British and Irish Ministers met at the INTERGOVERNMENTAL Conference, trade union leaders could meet separately with the Northern Ireland Secretary to be briefed and offer their own advice on the issues discussed. This offer could still find a few unionist buyers, although it was temporarily overshadowed by a militant union demonstration: a one-day strike on March 3. Mars, which closed most shops in the north. The British Prime Minister has never been more firm in her position and no more popular with Protestant trade unionists than during the hunger strike of Irish Republican Army prisoners in the spring and summer of 1981. In retrospect, however, it can be seen that their harsh handling of this crisis triggered a series of events that led to the November 1985 agreement. Strategically, the agreement showed that the British government recognised as legitimate the Republic`s desire to take an interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland, and it also showed the Unionists that their presence in the House of Commons prevented them from politically vetoing British policy on Ulster. The agreement was largely rejected by unionists because it gave the Republic of Ireland a role in the governance of Northern Ireland for the first time and because it had been excluded from negotiations on the agreement. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led the campaign against the deal, including mass rallies, strikes, civil disobedience and the mass resignation of all Unionist MPs from the House of Commons. The DUP and the UUP jointly organised 400,000 signatures in a petition against the agreement.

Northern Ireland Minister Tom King was attacked by Protestants in Belfast on 20 November. [24] There was also a mass rally outside Belfast City Hall on November 23, 1985 against the agreement, with Irish historian Jonathan Bardon saying, ”Nothing comparable had been seen since 1912.” [25] Estimates of the number of people vary: the Irish Times claimed that 35,000 people were present; [26] The News of the World, the Sunday Times and the Sunday Express claimed 100,000; [27] The professor of politics at the University of Ulster, Arthur Aughey, claimed that more than 200,000 people were there; [28] and the organizers of the meeting stated that 500,000 people participated. [27] The agreement contains language to encourage political parties in Northern Ireland to form a coalition government along the lines of the 1974 power-sharing executive. For example, most of the advisory powers granted to Dublin can only be exercised if there is no decentralised government in the North that is acceptable to both communities. To the extent that unionists fear Dublin`s interference in their affairs, the ideal option for them is to return to power-sharing. Unionist political leaders hailed the deal with a storm of bitter denunciations, calling it a ”betrayal” by the British government and predicting violence. The Reverend Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, predicted that the consequences of the deal would be ”too terrible to think about” and warned the Dublin government that ”the total anger of the Unionist people will fall on your head”. At the other end of the political scale, Republican hardliners rejected the deal because Dublin recognised British sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

The Provisional IRA claimed recognition of the deal, suggesting that its armed campaign had forced the British to make concessions to the nationalists. Sinn Fein simply chose to reject the agreement and condemn it at every opportunity. Paramilitary violence continued on both sides, but did not escalate significantly. No one expected the Unionist community or its leaders to like the deal, but efforts were made to allay Unionist fears as much as words could. Both governments promised that Northern Ireland`s constitutional status could only be changed with the consent of a majority of its population, and they recognised that the current desire of a majority was not a change. On the other hand, no effort was made to involve the unionists in the negotiations. It was accepted that they would firmly reject any role of the Dublin Government in Northern Ireland, regardless of how that role might be defined. At his separate press conference, Prime Minister FitzGerald clung to the hopeful language and tone of the statement. He described the discussions as ”extensive and constructive.” He refused to be drawn into a public disagreement with the British prime minister. But their remarks provoked a storm of criticism in Ireland.

Hume, for example, called his language ”deep and justified anger and insult” provocative. Back in Dublin, during a closed-door session of his party`s MPs, FitzGerald called his remarks ”gratuitously offensive,” a phrase that quickly found its way into the newspapers. These Protestant fighters represent a counter-revolution that has also failed. They could not crush the IRA by military force. Nor could they dictate the form of the British government`s policy. What happened was the fragmentation of the Unionist Party`s monolith into two parties, the traditional party now known as the official trade unionists, and the more militant democratic unionists led by reverend Paisley. Peace, stability and reconciliation in Northern Ireland were the main objectives of the agreement, although it is true only in the longer term, as both governments expected an initial increase in paramilitary activity. As far as the reconciliation of the communities of Northern Ireland is concerned, the Anglo-Irish agreement can only be considered a failure. Catholics generally believe that it has made little difference in their lives, while Protestants are bitterly upset about its existence. Twelve years after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the two main traditions in Northern Ireland are more polarised than ever. The trial had a brief difficult period in September, when Mrs Thatcher took part in a major cabinet reshuffle and transferred him from the Northern Ireland office to the post of Home Secretary. Christopher Patton, one of his junior ministers, who had the delicate task of holding political talks with the Northern Irish parties, was transferred to the post of junior minister in the Ministry of Education.

These changes once again seemed to indicate to the UK that Northern Ireland was not very important to the concerns of the British continent. The reaction of the press in London and Dublin was negative, especially since Tom King, the Kurd`s successor, was not a well-known political figure. Like most of his predecessors, he had no experience and little knowledge of the North. When it became clear that the agreement was already well advanced and that its details would be decided by the Prime Minister herself, those concerns faded. To dramatize their claim that the deal contradicts democratic sentiment in the province, the Unionists, who held 15 of Northern Ireland`s 17 seats in the House of Commons, resigned as a group. There was some risk in this maneuver, as four of the unionist seats are in nationalist areas. Unionists represent these districts only because the moderate SDLP and the more militant Sinn Fein have divided nationalist voices. To protect themselves from a split in their own voice, the Unionists arranged an electoral pact that appointed only one of them in each constituency.

In the improved political climate between Britain and Ireland, the heads of state and government of both countries sat down to negotiate. Ireland and Great Britain agreed that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only be made with the consent of the majority of the population of Northern Ireland, and an intergovernmental conference was set up to deal with political, security and legal relations between the two parts of the island. The agreement was a blow to Northern Irish unionists because it introduced an advisory role for the Irish Government in northern Ireland affairs through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and other unionists condemned the deal, and UUP MPs resigned their seats on the issue (although 14 were re-elected in by-elections in 1986). The party has staged mass protests and boycotts of local councils and filed a lawsuit against the legality of the deal. However, these efforts, which the Democratic Unionist Party joined, could not force the cancellation of the agreement. The failure of the Prior Assembly initiative made it clear to the British Prime Minister that if it were to take any action to change the unpromising dynamics of the situation in Northern Ireland, it would have to do so through an agreement with Dublin. In this sense, the 1985 agreement is an expression of British despair at the stubbornness and sterility of the Unionist position. The failure of Irish courts to extradite a number of suspected Irish Republican Army (IRA) militants to Britain, including Evelyn Glenholmes and P. Patrick Ryan, has strained Anglo-Irish relations, as has the British government`s refusal to establish three courts for terrorist offences in Northern Ireland. Overall, progress in the police and judicial systems has been lower than expected. Although, as Boyle and Hadden (1989) have pointed out, security issues have been frequently discussed at intergovernmental conferences, little information has been published […].