Twenty years since the Anglo Irish Agreement

Twenty years since the Anglo Irish Agreement Probably the last time Sinn Fein and Unionists of all strands agreed on a substantive political issue was their implacable opposition to the Anglo Irish Agreement, though for quite different reasons. Unionists felt their government had let them down by giving the Republic’s government a consultative role. Harold McCusker (sound file) was thought never to have recovered from it, until his tragically early death five years later.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Unionists outdid themselves with their silly posturing over the AIA, McCusker’s quotation in the sound file is a perfect example.

  • harry flashman

    I disagree, let’s just look at the circumstances shall we and consider whether they would be acceptable today in Northern Ireland or indeed any democratic society.

    The Irish government engaged in secret negotiations with the British government about the governance of Northern Ireland. Now we’ll leave aside the main Unionist objection to the fact that the Irish government should have been given any role at all in NI that argument was settled with the GFA and even the DUP accepts their role. However it is the underhand nature of the whole deal that repels. At no time were the majority community consulted in any way about how they were to be governed and any time they raised objections to what they perceived was going on they were blatantly lied to and told no such negotiations were taking place.

    This in itself would have been sufficient for the Unionists to reject the deal but when it became clear that the entire operation was run at the behest of John Hume, as Garret Fitzgerald has candidly admitted it was, then the whole rottenness became apparent. One man, the sole representative of his party in Westminster, had been given an effective veto over the policies of two governments and was virtually single handedly determining the governance of a province of one and a half million people against the wishes of an overwhelming majority.

    The Irish government became accepted as the guarantor of Nationalists in Northern Ireland and therefore partisans in the struggle whilst at the same time the UK government declared themselves neutral, hardly fair one would suggest. The ‘haut en bas’ nature of the Tory government’s dealing with the Unionists smacked very clearly of a Foreign Office mentality towards offloading inconvenient colonies and gave an obvious signal to the Unionists that they should get ready for the big heave-ho. It is no surprise that the main architects of the AIA all went on to organise the disgraceful shafting of the people of Hong Kong, throwing them to the Stalinist butchers of Tiannamen Square.

    You can certainly argue that there was no point in including the Unionists as they would have rejected it anyway, and you can argue that it was a necessary jolt for them out of their complacency and allowed them to accept the GFA but that doesn’t make it any more democratic or acceptable, it was still a lousy deal.

  • Brian Boru

    “The Irish government became accepted as the guarantor of Nationalists in Northern Ireland and therefore partisans in the struggle whilst at the same time the UK government declared themselves neutral, hardly fair one would suggest. The ‘haut en bas’ nature of the Tory government’s dealing with the Unionists smacked very clearly of a Foreign Office mentality towards offloading inconvenient colonies and gave an obvious signal to the Unionists that they should get ready for the big heave-ho. It is no surprise that the main architects of the AIA all went on to organise the disgraceful shafting of the people of Hong Kong, throwing them to the Stalinist butchers of Tiannamen Square. ”

    I hope you are not comparing the South to the Tianamen square butchers. 🙁 Oh dear.

    The Anglo-Irish Agreement recognised the absurdity of pretending that there is no kinship between Northern Nationalists and Southern Irish people. We were entitled to speak up for them.

  • harryflashman

    Oh for goodness sake of course I’m not, I’m merely pointing out the undemocratic manner in which the Tory mandarins concocted the deal.

    As I pointed out in my post it is now accepted that there is a role for Dublin in the affairs of the North. That however does not take away from the underhand and devious manner in which the deal was negotiated with the Irish Government acting as the glove puppet of John Hume while the British government adopted a strictly neutral indeed perhaps even hostile position vis a vis the majority community.

    You say that the Irish government’s job is to represent the interests of the Nationalist community, well then is it not the corrollary that the UK should act as champion of the Unionist community? However in the Downing Street declaration the British government pledged itself to neutrality on the issue of Irish self determination.

    In actual fact the GFA means that the Irish government no longer sees itself solely as guarantor of Nationalist rights, it too has pledged itself to neutrality on the issue of the future determination of the people of N. Ireland, and that is as it should be.

  • Brian Boru

    “In actual fact the GFA means that the Irish government no longer sees itself solely as guarantor of Nationalist rights, it too has pledged itself to neutrality on the issue of the future determination of the people of N. Ireland, and that is as it should be. ”

    But only if you implement it!

  • Concerned Loyalist

    The Anglo-Irish Agreement was a watershed for Loyalists such as the UDA. Working-class loyalists were beginning to become disillusioned with the UDA, and in particular the leadership of men like Special Branch informant Tommy “Tucker” Lyttle in West Belfast. Basically, before the 1985 “Agreement” they were questioning the UDA’s raison d’etre.

    The Anglo-Irish Agreement changed all that. Although it angered Loyalists at the time, it almost immediately enabled men like John McMichael to gain the support to transform the UDA from a joke: an organisation infiltrated from the top down and leaking intelligence like a sieve- into a highly trained military machine where UFF operations were no longer constantly thwarted.

    In summary, it militarised a whole generation of Loyalists and led to the expulsion of a vast number of informants. I’m not condoning or glorifying this, I am merely telling it as it is…

  • fishfiss

    Militarised and narcoticised, Concerned Loyalist ?

  • harry flashman

    There is no question that the AIA re-energised the loyalist murder gangs. By 1985 the loyalist terrorist groups had almost ceased to operate in a “paramilitary” role (they were of course, as they are now up to their eyeballs in other criminality), not entirely of course but by that stage the republican murder gangs were largely the only ones in the running.

    I recall that in early 1986 the loyalists started again murdering Catholics in the way they had in the mid 1970’s, as I remember one of the first was some unfortunate teenager who was beaten to death with breeze blocks in Lurgan. By the early 1990s the loyalists were well in advance of republicans in the murder stakes and had by then got AK47s and RPGs, it is truly a classic case of the law of unintended consequences that an agreement to placate nationalists led to an horrific escalation of loyalist violence.

    John McMichael produced a surprisingly mature political manifesto in 1986 called ‘Common Sense’ in response to the AIA. I do not know enough about the internal politics of loyalist terrorism (nor frankly do I care) to know whether if the provos hadn’t murdered him in 1987 the loyalists would not have embarked on the savagery they unleashed in the early and mid 1990s.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    fishfiss,
    There is good and bad in every organisation. As Jackie McDonald admitted on Monday night’s UTV Insight, there are smaller Jim Gray’s still in the membership of the Ulster Defence Association. They are in a minority though, and will be marginalised and subsequently expelled through time…

  • Concerned Loyalist

    harry,
    I am convinced that the UDA would have ceased operations before 1994 if John McMichael hadn’t been murdered in December 1987.

    I also believe the UDP would have enjoyed success in Assembly elections and would still be in existence as the UDA’s political voice, but for the July 1994 murder of another Lisburn man, their leader Ray Smallwoods.

    Smallwoods wanted peace and was in regular contact with the two Clonard priests in West Belfast to articulate how the loyalist community viewed the different stages of the peace process, who then in turn conveyed this information to the Provos.

    The UDA rank and file respected Smallwoods and although Gary McMichael, his subsequent successor, was the son of the loyalist icon, John McMichael, Gary couldn’t bring the more militant younger members of the organisation with him in the process of conflict transformation. In this I believe Smallwoods would have been much more successful.

    Both John McMichael and Ray Smallwoods were murdered because they were too articulate and politically astute for Sinn Fein/IRA’s liking. The IRA killed two of the most progressive, forward thinking men in Loyalism. If both were still alive I believe the UDA would be a more stable, politicized rather than militant, organisation…

  • finn69

    Both John McMichael and Ray Smallwoods were murdered because they were too articulate and politically astute for Sinn Fein/IRA’s liking.

    and not because they were involved in murdering people then

    also harry the UDA upped their murder rate from 1988, it was in no way political they had just received alot of weapons via Brian Nelson

  • Concerned Loyalist

    More republican propagandist material from Finn69…

  • Concerned Loyalist

    The first Stevens Inquiry led to the imprisoning of the majority of the old-guard UDA leadership. This Special Branch infiltrated leadership was replaced by the “Young Turks”- a younger and more militant leadership who believed that the best form of defence was attack. They felt that they could defend Ulster’s Protestant communities best by terrorising the terrorists of SF/IRA, IRSP/INLA. The UDA thinking behind this was that would republicans would think twice before blowing up Protestant pubs, shops etc when they realised that the UFF “would return the serve”

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Correction: no “would” before “republicans” in fifth line.

  • Brian Boru

    Concerned Loyalist, that cannot justify the targeting of the hundreds of innocent men, women and children by that terrorist organisation (UDA/UFF).

  • Jo

    CL

    McMichael was targetted by Jim Craig, your view of political astuteness is more accurate when described Ray Smallwoods.

  • by harry flashman on Nov 16, 2005 @ 03:05 AM *It is no surprise that the main architects of the AIA all went on to organise the disgraceful shafting of the people of Hong Kong, throwing them to the Stalinist butchers of Tiannamen Square.*

    By implying that the ROI is similar to the government in Beijing, is this an Asian (as opposed to Germanic) form of Godwin Law? Or is it merely a Fr Alex Reid form of hyperbole and analogy?

    Can the moderators please confirm. Thanks.

  • Jo

    ..theres something about Harry….

  • harry flashman

    I assure you finn I am under no misaprehension about the thuggishness of loyalist terrorists, the merest glance at my post would have proved that and I frankly don’t care where they got their weapons from. I well recall the justified outrage against the loyalists for their connections with apartheid South Africa, however the provos’ connections with Ghaddafhi’s Libya were no less repulsive.

    No doubt Smallwoods and McMichael were connected with many murders (am I right that the former attempted to murder Bernadette?) but then so were men called McG******s and A***s yet they are now regarded as statesmen, why such a disparity?

    My point remains that the AIA reactivated loyalism, you may well have a point that certain elements of the security services exploited the situation to further their own dirty tricks but I think that points in favour of my original proposition that the whole deal was an ignoble enterprise which led many people in the security establishment to believe that the endgame had begun and they had a free reign.

    It is an ugly period which none of us will ever fully understand in our lifetime and which probably reaches right to the top of the tree, much like the internal battles in the Tory establishment in 1972 between the Heath/Whitelaw faction against Airey Neave and his friends, a struggle that will take generations to untangle.

  • harry flashman

    Niall, I would have thought the briefest glance at the first sentence in my post @ 10.10am would have dealt with your silly question which you asked a mere five hours after I addressed the issue.

    Jo, my dear, you are convinced despite all evidence to the contrary that I am a racist, know-nothing, died in the wool bigot so there is really nothing I can say to persuade you otherwise except that I look forward to the day when you actually dispute me on a point of fact or logic instead of issuing stupid,undergraduate, meaningless, trite, personal, snide remarks about my character about which of course you know diddly squat. Try intelligent debate instead of emoting some time Jo, you might be surprised at the results, love n’ kisse Harry xxx

  • Jo

    ….huh?? Ref??

  • Jo

    Not for the first time I find myself subject to unprovoked comments like ther above which I perceive are entirely related to my gender and which collectively act as a dissuading force for other potential female bloggers. I was encouraged by Mick in his earlier assistance but I find comments like the above, sexist in tone, gratuitous and OTT.

    It would seem that I and my views are regarded as fair game by a specific set of posters using names of convenience and hounding reasonable liberal Unionism from the blogosphere.

  • Concerned Loyalist:

    “They felt that they could defend Ulster’s Protestant communities best by terrorising the terrorists of SF/IRA, IRSP/INLA.”

    So what about the hordes of innocent catholics, including SDLP members and supporters, who were slaughtered not because they supported or were involved in terrorism, but simply because they happened to be catholic or dared speak as nationalists?

    Both the UDA and UVF didn’t simply target ‘military’ figures in the various republican groups- they targeted any taig they could get their bullets near.

    Your comments alude to some sort of specific campaign against paramilitary targets, when in fact, they were simply engaged in naked sectarian murder.

  • harry flashman

    By all means call the ref in Jo. In previous posts you have implied that I am a racist bigot who believes in enslaving black people merely because I happen to believe that big government is not the solution to society’s many problems. At that time I chose to rebut your ridiculous comment by factual counter argument, I felt no need to summon the help of the moderator.

    In a recent debate about the riots in France you made an utterly fatuous remark which actually confirmed my original post, now you address my points about the AIA, an issue that still has resonance today, with a totally meaningless load of drivel. I have responded by pointing out that maybe you might actually like to debate the topic in which we are currently engaged instead of mouthing inanities, if the moderator objects to my point of view then so be it.

  • harry flashman

    Right Jo, you’re a big girl, you don’t need help from uncle Mick to protect you, so state nice and clearly for the rest of us what the relevance to the current topic

    “There’s something about Harry”

    is exactly, coz I sure as hell don’t understand!

    And while you’re at it maybe you’d like to explain why when I described myself as a libertarian you sneered at me and accused me of wanting to enslave black people, go ahead Jo, we’re all ears.

  • Jo

    I am not engaging in your pedantry.

    Your utterly off-topic and unfounded references to earlier discussions are not relevant here, although whatever I said clearly left a mark. Good.

  • harry flashman

    That’s a girl Jo, sock it to me, challenge my presumptions, produce facts to prove me wrong, dispute the basic tenets of my arguments…or alternatively have a schoolgirl snot and delight in the fact that you previously insulted me, yeah that’ll win you a debate!

    Moderator, if you’re listening I think I am defending myself in a perfectly fair manner, if Jo feels I am overbearing well frankly that’s no concern of mine, this is a political blog and if she is allowed special favours on account of her gender then I think we should be told.

    In the meantime I’m going to bed. Jo, if you have anything remotely constructive to say about the twentieth anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, a momentous event in recent Northern Ireland history, I’ll be delighted to read it in the morning.

    PS Before you start I live in a different time zone than you, yes they do exist outside Northern Ireland, check your atlas.

  • Jo

    I have made my position clear on the AIA if anyone would care to click on my name and discuss these views with me in a blog where there tends to be a bit of respect for different points of view, irrespective of gender.

    Thank you.

  • Mick Fealty

    Boys and girls, can we just get back to the subject. There’s been a fair amount of man playing here. If you want me to start bucking people out I can. But I wouldn’t just be picking on one.

  • Jo

    A rather inappropriate response to a series of gratuitous personal attacks, if I may say so.

  • Jo

    Had Unionists been involved in negotiating the AIA, it wouldnt have happened, or would have been delayed.

    It was a clear signal of what was to come – when next they WERE involved in negotiating, many walked away or walked out – leaving a rump (using that word advisedly) to snipe and delay progress in the GFA to achieve the result that 29% of the population wanted – and 71%, including me, didn’t. And all this without the presence of MrMcCusker, either, whose pathetic pontification probably marked the zenith of another wasted political life.

  • Keith M

    As bad as the Belfast Agreement of 1998 was, it was nowhere near as shoddy and short sighted as the AIA. However there are few argreements that are without merit, and for me the longterm impact of the AIA was two-fold; no agreement could be done over the heads of the majority in Northern Ireland and that there had to be an involvement of the Republic’s government in any future agreements.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    HF: “The Irish government engaged in secret negotiations with the British government about the governance of Northern Ireland… (snip)

    However it is the underhand nature of the whole deal that repels. At no time were the majority community consulted in any way about how they were to be governed and any time they raised objections to what they perceived was going on they were blatantly lied to and told no such negotiations were taking place. ”

    And that, old son, is the price you pay for being part of the Empire, and a part that tends to be an emmerdeuse at that.

    HF: “The Irish government became accepted as the guarantor of Nationalists in Northern Ireland and therefore partisans in the struggle whilst at the same time the UK government declared themselves neutral, hardly fair one would suggest. ”

    Life’s not fair, Harry — its a contact sport, so go get a helmet. Anyone who has told you differently was prolly selling something. As for who is neutral and who is a partisan, how much actionable intelligence does the Ireland, or its representatives, supply the IRA, vs. England and the Protestant / Loyalist murder gangs? Ireland may (and I stress MAY) have been a partisan on paper, but Great Britain was a partisan in fact, albeit not always of her own mind, given that her servants and soldiers tended to slip data to their pet thug paramilitaries, whilst the IRA had to do their own dirty work.

    HF: “It is no surprise that the main architects of the AIA all went on to organise the disgraceful shafting of the people of Hong Kong, throwing them to the Stalinist butchers of Tiannamen Square. ”

    Couple of points on this one — Dublin is hardly Beijing, the Chinese of the mainland are Maoist, not Stalinist (that would be them other little fellows, the North Koreans, who are the Stalinists, btw… there is a difference between the two! If you need a hand, the folks following the short fellow with the Elvis haircut are the North Koreans…) As for “shafting” Hong Kong, I do seem to remember something about their lease being up — what’s a renter to do?? I doubt the UK could have ponied up the money for new rent. Besides, the UK has been negotiating away the last rags of the Empire for decades, why should Hong Kong, or Northern Ireland, for that matter, be any different?

    HF: “You can certainly argue that there was no point in including the Unionists as they would have rejected it anyway, and you can argue that it was a necessary jolt for them out of their complacency and allowed them to accept the GFA but that doesn’t make it any more democratic or acceptable, it was still a lousy deal.”

    Rule of thumb — if you complete a deal and everyone has a complaint, it prolly wasn’t too badly executed. And you;re right, there was no useful purpose for including the Unionists. Like I said when I began, the Unionists elected to be part of the Empire and have murdered to stay there. If they are so eager to stay on the English leash, they have to right to kvetch when England gives the choke-collar a good hard yank.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    That should be “…have no right to complain…”

  • by harry flashman on Nov 16, 2005 @ 04:31 PM: *Niall, I would have thought the briefest glance at the first sentence in my post @ 10.10am would have dealt with your silly question which you asked a mere five hours after I addressed the issue. *
    I had read your earlier comment and if you notice my comment / question, which altho referencing you, was addressed to the moderators. However, I don’t think I need comment further as you’ve already been spoken to by Mick re you ‘man not ball’ playing.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Jo,
    Craig set up John McMichael by giving information to the Provos and they took this information and subsequently murdered him with a booby-trap car bomb, outside his home in Lisburn…