Gerry Kelly: “a British problem”

Mark is covering the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis below and there are various speeches on the Sinn Fein website. One from Gerry Kelly is interesting. Kelly has never seemed much in to unionist outreach. However, even by his standards this speech is non conciliatory. At the end he came out with “…it wasn’t an Irish problem, it is a British problem in Ireland.” He seems to be ignoring the fact that Sinn Fein signed up to the Belfast Agreement which in the section on Constitutional Issues states:

The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-
Irish Agreement, they will:
(vi) recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.

How the issues in Northern Ireland being “a British problem” sits with this the birthright of people here to be British is difficult to grasp. To misquote: “They (the British) haven’t gone away you know.”

Kelly’s next point was:

Secondly and most importantly, to all those out there, fighting for justice, freedom and equality. There are no intractable problems, nothing is impossible in struggle.

It might be worth asking just how Kelly intends to solve the “British problem” if nothing is indeed impossible. Kelly is of course well acquainted with various putative “solutions” to the birthright of people here to be British. Maybe unionists should consider those words before supporting the devolution of policing and justice next week.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.