“But we’re still part of the UK…”

The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson, MP, and Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey, MLA, appeared separately on UTV Live this evening to give their thoughts on the 15th anniversary of the 1998 Agreement.  Apparently Alex Maskey hadn’t arrived at the studio in time for the first segment…  Whether by accident, or design, it was left to presenter Seamus McKee Paul Clark to ask the obvious question to Alex Maskey’s opening assertion.  Here’s what the Sinn Féin MLA claimed

The fundamental difference between before the Good Friday Agreement and after the Good Friday Agreement is that the British Government, and the British State, no longer claim jurisdiction over this part of the island.  That’s very very important, and that’s a very important building block for us to convince those who, at this moment in time, don’t support the idea of a united Ireland that it is in their best interests. [added emphasis]

Well, good luck with that, Alex.  Particularly if that’s your starting point.  [Does he know that his bat’s been broken? – Ed]  Possibly…

Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom was recognised in the 1998 Agreement itself – as was the point that “it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people”.

And, as I’ve mentioned before

…post-Belfast Agreement of 1998, Sinn Féin now sit in a Stormont administration in which all laws passed require Royal Assent before being enacted.

Apart from those matters which remained reserved to the “British Government”.  Like MI5 and SOCA, for example.  In terms of “jurisdiction”, it’s similar to the position of the pre-1972 Parliament of Northern Ireland.

Indeed, the ‘claim’ was cited by the stand-in NI Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd, in October 2011 when he was explaining why he would not be prepared to meet the UK Head of State (Queen Elizabeth II). 

“There are a number of issues which need to be resolved before such a scenario would arise, including from a republican point of view, we were meeting a family who would claim to be our heads of state.

“Republicans don’t accept that.”

Although, the then-once-and-future NI Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, subsequently did meet the UK Head of State during the Jubilee tour of her United Kingdom.

And, back in 1997, the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams also cited the ‘claim’ when explaining why his party refused to take their seats in the House of Commons.

Mr Adams said the question of the oath was “a bit of a distraction”. While a change might be good for British democracy, it would not alter Sinn Fein’s position. Asked if he could see himself sitting in the Commons following a change to the oath, Mr Adams said: “No, because the issue for us is the claim of that parliament to jurisdiction in Ireland.”

But, if Sinn Féin are now arguing that that changed after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998…

ANYhoo…  Scotland didn’t need a Good Friday Agreement, nor a 30 year campaign of violence, to be able to hold a referendum on their position within the UK.  Just saying…

Here’s Alex Maskey on UTV Live

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  • Barry the Blender

    Pete, when will you learn? Thou shalt not question Sinn Fein.

    4 legs good; 2 legs bad

  • keano10

    Pete,

    That’s quite a vitriolic piece and quite shambolic in it’s content. Maybe you are having a few beers at home and have decided to let “it” all out…?

    Firstly, Paul Clark described Maskey’s delay as being due to chaotic traffic delays in Belfast (Paul Clark’s words no those of Maskey). Secondly, there appears to be no content or logic whatsoever to your comments here i.e ” good luck with THAT Alex”. Erm. Good luck with
    what Pete? It aint exactly clear..??

    You proceed to ramble on about comments that Sinn Fein made in 1997 about the oath in The Commons, but here we are, 16 years later and nothing has changed…

    Bizarre stuff… Please enlighten as to your overall point here…?

  • Pete Baker

    The UTV Player doesn’t seem to want to give me the appropriate code for the relevant video clip. But it’s available at the linked UTV report.

  • megatron

    Doubt there is a point Keano.

    HER United Kingdom? I mean I would have accepted “the” but “her”???

    Is there anyway you could block posters like you can block people on twitter?

  • Pete Baker

    “HER United Kingdom? I mean I would have accepted “the” but “her”???”

    Read the link, megatron…

  • Mick Fealty

    Not just because their posts irritate meg…

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Mick, I assume, for the corrected code for the video clip.

    It’s a bit small though… 😉

  • Alias

    Mr Adams said: “No, because the issue for us is the claim of that parliament to jurisdiction in Ireland.”

    That would be the same parliament which enacted the Northern Ireland Act 1998. If it doesn’t have, according to Mr Adams, the legitimacy to enact such legislation within its sovereign jurisdiction of Northern Ireland then it follows that the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland are illegitimate.

    Since the Shinners do not regard Her Majesty’s devolved parliament as illegitimate there is no reason to suppose that they regard the mother parliament which established it as an illegitimate authority.

    Why then to the Shinners boycott it if it has nothing to do with principals? Probably because (a) it’s a small trough that the pigs don’t need to visit to claim expenses from, and (b) it helps then to sell the line to the sheep that they’re traditional republicans.

    In due course, however, the Shinners will be required to complete the British state’s normalisation agenda – and part of that is to lead the sheep to fully accept the legitimacy of British constitutional arrangements. But for now, and for another decade or so, they are more useful to the process of consolidating the legitimacy of those arrangements by questioning them in ways that expose the oppositional arguments of ‘republicans’ as – to put it kindly – lacking substance.

    Essentially, the Shinners will continue to hollow out ‘republicanism’ from within – and thereby continue to enjoy state protection from past indiscretions.

  • GavBelfast

    Never mind Alex Maskey …. I’d say “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” is pretty emphatic and unanimous where jurisdiction and sovereignty is concerned.

    How is the situation any different to Scotland?

    If Scotland votes, next year, to leave the UK, one suspects it will leave.

    If it votes to stay, presumably it will stay.

    Why, in 2013, and beyond, would there be any point in “claiming jurisdiction” over somewhere where there was not consent for being part of that jurisdiction?

    Clearly, Northern Ireland is part of the UK because a majority of the people (enthusiastically) support that, a (large) minority acquiesce in that consent (they voted even MORE enthusiastically for the Good Friday Agreement!) and presumably there are others who could or could not care less.

    Then, there are our friends (and I mean friends) to the south, where, by a ratio of 19:1, there was EVEN MORE enthusiastic support for Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK, with close relations between NI and the RoI, and between the UK and RoI – and better and evolving relations there plainly are!

    I am delighted that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland are now, more or less, automatically entitled to Irish citizenship and passports if they want it. It might me a nice thing for people like me, too. Articles 2 and 3 didn’t give Northern Irelanders who wanted Irish citizenship that – and pissed-off those who didn’t. So, now: no Articles 2 and 3, but (almost) automatic right to citizenship instead. People, not territory: I’d call that a “win-win”.

    But, please, while there are obviously very special and peculiar circumstances here because of how and why we got here, there is no doubting jurisdiction here – if (and whenever) the situation changes, jurisdiction will.

  • Mick Fealty

    Since we’re all being so strict about terms, Articles 2/3 were not got rid of, they were rewritten. Though I wonder sometimes how many people have the time to read the new ones:

    Article 2 It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.

    Article 3 1.    It is the firm will of the Irish Nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions, recognising that a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island. Until then, the laws enacted by the Parliament established by this Constitution shall have the like area and extent of application as the laws enacted by the Parliament that existed immediately before the coming into operation of this Constitution.

    2.    Institutions with executive powers and functions that are shared between those jurisdictions may be established by their respective responsible authorities for stated purposes and may exercise powers and functions in respect of all or any part of the island.

  • Morpheus

    @GavBelfast

    What a strange interpretation you have of the Good Friday Agreement.

    “our friends (and I mean friends) to the south, where, by a ratio of 19:1, there was EVEN MORE enthusiastic support for Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK”

    I am pretty sure that the good people of the ROI voted for the GFA in it’s entirety i.e that the majority of people in Northern Ireland will be able to make the democratic choice to stay or go when the times comes. In the mean time the GFA is supposed to ensure that there will be “full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities”.

    “Northern Ireland is part of the UK because a majority of the people (enthusiastically) support that”

    And your figures for that are what exactly? Last I heard there hasn’t been a referendum on that one just yet. I’ll save you a bit of the trouble here – no doubt you will come back on and say something along the lines of:
    –> only 25% of those who completed the census said they are Irish…then I will I say 52%, a majority, said there weren’t British,
    –> you will say that only 22.5% of the electorate voted for parties who want a United Ireland (SF/SDLP)…then I will say that only 24.9% voted pro-union parties (DUP/UUP/TUV) a difference of just 2.4%.
    –> then you will probably quote 17% from the recent Spotlight poll…then I say that the only shock from that poll was that they found ANYONE who would agree to a United Ireland tomorrow.

    My point is that for every Pro-Union stat there is a Pro-UI stat and until we start real debates and getting answers to the real questions (like if it is even feasible) then the issue will linger.

    No one will agree to walk blindly after SF into a United Ireland and the electorate, north and south of the border, will need persuading through debate and (hopefully) an independent feasibility report commissioned by the British and Irish Governments. Before asking the electorate to vote on a UI we deserve the right to know what a UI would look like in terms of housing, economics, social security, education, health, jobs, foreign policy etc.

    Again to quote the GFA: “a”substantial section” of the people of Northern Ireland, and the majority of the people of the island of Ireland, wished to bring about a united Ireland.” So the least we can do is investigate it.

  • FDM

    Another Pete Baker special. It goes from the bizarre to surreal daily

    I think the major point of slugger is debate, exchange of ideas, information interpretation and exposition.

    Pete however takes a very different and one directional tack.

    The Pete Baker Formula

    Study [but not too closely] new events and old events. Think of some way [any way] to link this together into some sort of concerted diatribe against SF [1st choice], republicans and/or nationalists. Don’t mind if you stretch logic. Add a healthy dose of vitriol to deliberately atagonise as many of the listed people as possible. Attempt to score as many cheap politic points as you can. Lastly step back and refuse to defend the indefensible tripe you have dumped on slugger.

    Pointless.

  • Reader

    FDM: Pointless.
    Well, there is an interesting question for republicans buried in there, surely? Whether the British Government claims jurisdiction over Northern Ireland or not. It’s a matter with emotional and practical implications.
    Alex Maskey says that the British Government doesn’t claim jurisdiction, I say it does. Who is right?

  • FDM

    @Reader

    Well, there is an interesting question for republicans buried in there, surely? Whether the British Government claims jurisdiction over Northern Ireland or not. It’s a matter with emotional and practical implications.
    Alex Maskey says that the British Government doesn’t claim jurisdiction, I say it does. Who is right?

    ———————

    You know I am all for debate Reader. You know I am not shy about involving myself in it. I also try to stick to the rules of the site. I attempt to play the ball game.

    You ask a reasonable question.

    Worthy of an interchange of ideas.

    However until Pete grows up, I won’t be entertaining the troops with my insight on his frankly sub-standard threads.

    Holds hands up, turns back and walks away…

  • BarneyT

    “ANYhoo… Scotland didn’t need a Good Friday Agreement, nor a 30 year campaign of violence, to be able to hold a referendum on their position within the UK. Just saying…” – This is indeed a very odd thing to write.

  • Morpheus

    “Alex Maskey says that the British Government doesn’t claim jurisdiction, I say it does. Who is right?”

    Another clinker from Maskey. Reminds me of his ill-prepared TV interview with Arlene Foster.

    The Good Friday Agreement – that his party signed up to – says that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom until a majority of the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise. Should that happen, then the British and Irish governments are under “a binding obligation” to implement that choice.

    Plus the Southern English taxpayer is subsidising Northern Ireland to the tune of £10,500 per year.

    I don’t understand how he thinks it’s up for debate or it’s a matter of opinion at present – it’s a moot point

  • BarneyT

    Does Northern Ireland differ from Kent or the Yorkshires in terms of the level of “intrusion” or influence the ROI can assert?

    I think we need to examine each of these UK jurisdictions (lets go with NI and Yorkshire) and examine the relationship the once “free state” currently has.

  • tacapall

    The British government claims political jurisdiction in the N Ireland but it is the crown that claims ownership of N Ireland, the crown not to be confused with the monarchy. The six counties like the rest of the UK are part of a corporation with its headquarters in the independent state known as inner city London headquarters of the world wide money cartel known as The Crown. The Crown Corporation holds the title to world wide Crown land in Crown colonies like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. British parliament and the British prime minister serve as a public front for the hidden power of these ruling crown families. The union jack is in fact simply the company logo of this cartel.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/queens-landlord-blocks-plan-for-sewage-disposal-in-republic-of-ireland-29166073.html

    Thanks to the glorious revolution and William of Orange aided and abetted by those British people who parade every 12th July, we have a family of bankers who actually own the rights to the seabeds of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough and of course a similar scenario in Scotland, Wales and England.

  • BarneyT

    Tacapall – Frightening. So when the ROI formed, did they get the deeds 🙂

  • Reader

    tacapall: Thanks to the glorious revolution and William of Orange aided and abetted by those British people who parade every 12th July, we have a family of bankers who actually own the rights to the seabeds of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough and of course a similar scenario in Scotland, Wales and England.
    As if the conspiracy theorists didn’t have enough corporations, cartels and other organisations to worry about. However, In respect of Lough Foyle, these are the good guys. Donegal council are just going to have to add a couple of miles of pipe and pump their shit into the ocean instead.

  • tacapall

    Well Barney does the ROI have joint property rights to those seabeds listed above ?

    Barney maybe you should educate yourself of the difference between the British establishment and the British government, the PIRA sent them a message with the baltic exchange bomb, that sort of changed mindsets.

  • tacapall
  • Reader

    tacapall, I think that’s the wrong link. It’s the Crown Estates that own the Lough seabeds, and they are fully answerable to parliament.
    The link you posted was to the City of London Corporation, which looks like a medieval version of an Urban Development Zone, and seems likely to be left alone as long as it is convenient to do so.

  • tacapall

    You think Reader ! Maybe you didn’t get to this bit. –

    “the Corporation exists outside many of the laws and democratic controls which govern the rest of the United Kingdom. The City of London is the only part of Britain over which parliament has no authority. In one respect at least the Corporation acts as the superior body: it imposes on the House of Commons a figure called the remembrancer: an official lobbyist who sits behind the Speaker’s chair and ensures that, whatever our elected representatives might think, the City’s rights and privileges are protected. The mayor of London’s mandate stops at the boundaries of the Square Mile. There are, as if in a novel by China Miéville, two cities, one of which must unsee the other.”

  • One thing that no one seems to have noted about Alex Maskey’s claim is that London made the same conditional clam on NI back in December 1973 when the Sunningdale agreement was signed. Then Dublin went along with it partly by claiming that it was merely recognizing the reality of British rule in the North, but not ending its constitutional claim of 1937 to the territory of NI. Fortunately, Dublin ended this charade in 1998-99 by first agreeing to rewrite Arts 2 &3 and then doing so once power sharing was enacted.

  • tacapall

    It seems more than one person owns Ireland then Titch –

    http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/johncon.html

  • GavBelfast

    Articles 2 and 3, as originally worded and construed, WERE got rid of.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m coming back to this later, when I have time to do it justice… 🙂

  • Reader

    tacapall, again, I am not sure what your point is. The Crown Estates and the City of London Corporation are separate entities.
    The Crown Estates seem to own the Lough Foyle seabed and maybe foreshore, and they are the ones who are protecting Lough Foyle from the irresponsibility of Donegal council. The Crown Estates are entirely responsible to Parliament.
    The City of London Corporation is a very strange local authority. The article claimed that Parliament has no authority over it, and as several subsequent comments pointed out, that’s incorrect. I think my description of it as “a medieval version of an Urban Enterprise Zone” is fair enough.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Institutions with executive powers and functions that are shared between those jurisdictions may …. exercise powers and functions in respect of all or any part of the island.”

    Farcical as they have generally proved, this section has in essence given Her Majesty’s government executive powers in Ireland, and not just in collecting rent for the Crown estate, as a small region NI assembly has limited scope for altering legislation to suit Dublin, meaning the Republic has to undertak much of the compromise to make the cross border elements work, which is probably why most of them don’t actually work that well.

  • Mick Fealty

    So this is Alex’s ‘yes but, no but, yes but’ routine? There’s not a polity in the western world you could get away this kind of reality mangling nonsense.

    And it is ripe for disruption, precisely because the man in the street (as opposed to Slugger O’Toole) knows that it is utter nonsense.

    I listened to Margaret Ritchie on RTE Drivetime yesterday, and although there was a *hell of a lot* of throat clearing she started to get somewhere 1.58.11 … http://goo.gl/waZoR

  • Ruarai

    Guys,

    there are no few attacks on Pete and his alleged motives here. Perhaps the time would be better spent if not challenging then at least unpacking his point?

    It’s about time nationalists stopped closing ranks against those who criticize or expose either of their two main parties and their failure to advance a national agenda and time, instead, to acknowledge the nudity of the current emperors and the need for a new wardrobe of ideas.

    Ruarai

  • Morpheus

    That’s all beautifully worded Ruarai but what exactly does it mean? Can we not just call a spade a spade? Who are the ‘current emperors’ you talk about?

  • FDM

    @Ruarai

    Did you ever sit and listen to a radio station that plays the same single over and over and over and over and over and over again?

    No.

    Do you why?

    Because its bloody boring.

    Pete Baker, by his own offerings, is a mono-issue, mono-idea, mono-strategy poster. With DC its flegs. With Pete its SF bashing.

    It gets dull to read.

    So Pete either changes the record or like me we simply change the channel.

    Pete does need to be challenged, but about his dull as dishwater additions to the forum.

    “I’ve seen that dishwater before Pete?”

    “Yes its yesterdays”.

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    “Alex’s ‘yes but, no but, yes but’ routine?”

    Mick,

    Please look again at this clip from Eamon Delaney. It starts 38 minutes into the program.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01s4tgh/The_View_09_04_2013/

    Mr Delaney says;

    “It was the fist time Dublin was given an institutional, consultative role – and the important thing (Mark) is what this agreement set up (and it was hated by the unionists – Reg Empey is quite right in saying that there is a certain lack of democracy in that) – but the important thing is that with that agreement in place – and it stayed in place remember for thirteen years – and it grew in fact from its signature – but IT COULD NOT BE REPLACED UNLESS IT WAS REPLACED BY ANOTHER AGREEMENT AND THE OTHER AGREEMENT IT WOULD BE REPLACED BY WAS ONE THAT WAS MORE INCLUSIVE AND INCLUDED ALL THE PARTIES”

    Northern Ireland is still in the UK. Mr Maskey did not dispute that. This is our second agreement and as Mr Delaney points out, so long as the UK remains a nation of laws and honours her commitments, and in the absence of any great change in the make up and aspirations of the people living in Northern Ireland, the only way forward for the evolution of the Northern Irish constitution is in the direction of “more Irishness”. That might a greater ROI role in exchange for a move to weighted majority rule, it might simply be a more settled acceptance of peculiarly Irish cultural matters (the language for example) but, in terms of Irish nationalism, starting from such a low base, the evolution of the NI constitution can only be a continuing improvement.

    PS – It’s interesting that the AIA lasted 13 years as Mr Delaney tells us and that we’re getting impatient with our new agreement at year 15. Perhaps it takes us about that long (a “political generation”?) before we decide it’s time for new institutional furniture.

  • GavBelfast

    A lot of this impatience is not, I would suggest, about the big-picture stuff of the agreement: status of NI, fairness and power-sharing, co-operation between NI and RoI, and close relationships between the two sovereign governments and other devolved institutions.

    More, it is the moribund nature of what the “government” here actually does or does not do.

    I cannot be alone in wanting more achievement than that they “stopped water charges” and that all OAPs have free public transport (whether they use it or not).

    It’s as if the administration is there for the sake of being there, but unwilling to be or not capable of doing anything productive or progressive.

    St Andrews may have stopped the stop-start nature of devolution because Paisley and McGuinness got to where they wanted to be, but it certainly didn’t do anything about the stasis.

  • Mick Fealty

    Spot on Gav… That’s not, as Ike suggests, a failure of the institutions. It’s a failure of political imagination…

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    Perhaps Mick, if the institutions are designed to facilitate “political imagination” and instead they provide for a conflict of interest where there is little political sanction for disagreement (ministries may still be taken) but there is an obvious risk for poorly choreographed agreement (flags) then the failure of the one might be responsible for the failure of the other.

  • Sir Ike Broflovski

    Mick,

    I would not, btw, characterise the institutions as “failed”. They have served their purpose. I do suggest that constitutions evolve and we should not be reluctant to revisit ours from time to time. Perhaps a constitutional convention once in a “political generation”, requiring a fresh endorsement from the people of NI as Mr Agnew of the Green Party has suggested. We might include a border referendum – to win support from nationalists and to ensure that we’re not wasting our time.

  • @Mick,

    The institutions of the GFA crossed the low bar of stopping the shooting and bombing (for the most part) but have so far failed with the higher bar of providing for efficient representative government. All those who are non-sectarian are basically powerless under the present arrangements and there is no opposition. The same five parties keep on getting jointly elected and only the proportions switch–to a very minor extent. Elections are basically meaningless for determining anything.

    On a previous thread I mentioned that the IRA’s campaign in the West was basically ethnic cleansing and you said you didn’t expect to see evidence for that in print. About that same time Henry Patterson’s new book on the border war came out alleging the same thing.

  • Barnshee

    “On a previous thread I mentioned that the IRA’s campaign in the West was basically ethnic cleansing and you said you didn’t expect to see evidence for that in print.”

    A bit like the “non existent” ethnic cleansing of prods from the ROI dropped to almost zero without any influnece from the state