In a slow and secret transition within Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, still in charge, appears to be setting high targets for negotiations on the Assembly

At a Sinn Fein conference on a united Ireland in Dublin,  Gerry Adams has claimed Brexit  is a “ hostile action” that  will “destroy the Good Friday Agreement”,  although adding that  “special status” would not take Northern Ireland out of the UK.

Is this to be a sticking point in any talks to restore the Assembly?  If so he’d be setting the bar very high and over quite a long timescale for resolution.

Although it has been taken to mean a form of continuing association with the EU, he does not define what “special status” actually means to him.  His other claim that Theresa May’s  reported (but not confirmed)  aim to “ remove Britain  from the European Convention of Human Rights” is  said to be postponed to after Brexit or the 2020 election.

Mr Adams is undoubtedly rubbing a sore point here, where concerns are felt well beyond Sinn Fein. Mrs May would face an even bigger fight  in the Commons and the legal establishment than over Art 50. One of the first things she did on becoming PM was to postpone the subject sine die.  A debate on how Northern Ireland and Scotland would be affected  by any notional new “British Bill of Rights” has still to be held and  the consent of  the Assembly and even the Irish government  may well be needed to make any changes to the existing Human Rights Act which is indeed a cornerstone of the GFA .

Later But as I’ve just been reminded by Pete Baker, there is no plan to remove the UK from the Convention. (I know, I know Gerry, this legal stuff is very complicated). What is being considered is a British Bill of Rights  to replace the Human Rights Act embedded in the GFA, to reduce the scope to  appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, while remaining in the Convention on which the Court bases its rulings,  unless in the unlikely event  the Convention’s   parent body the Council of Europe were to declare  that the British Bill  was incompatible with Convention rights. May has in mind her frustrations as Home Secretary in trying to expel Islamist militants like Abu Qatada and the ECtHR ruling requiring the UK  to give prisoners the vote. Northern Ireland doesn’t figure in her  thoughts, no doubt a problem in itself.

Nationalists would obviously not be in favour of anything called a “British Bill” to start with.  Although the Convention is outside the EU, the two are linked. The controversy may seem legalistic, as it’s inconceivable that any actual rights in Northern Ireland would be affected , but it gives Sinn Fein  a lot of scope to make political trouble for years. This is another example of how Northern Ireland and specifically  English Tory concerns are at odds.

The choice of the Tyrone MLA and outgoing Health minister Michelle O’Neill to make the closing speech at the conference seems to confirm that she is about to supersede the  former favourite Conor Murphy as the leader  of Sinn Fein in the North.

 She  said the island would be better served by a single economy. Among the changes Sinn Féin wants she said was a dedicated Minister of State in the Irish Government with responsibility towards working for a United Ireland.

“Nobody has anything to fear from the republicans’ view of a united Ireland,” she said.

Asked afterwards about speculation about her impending elevation, Ms O’Neill declined to comment other than to say the decision would be made on Monday

 

Ms O’Neill is youngish, clean of paramilitary association, largely untried  in the top rank, and of course a woman.  Her emergence in a leading role, if it happens, will be entirely opaque. It  doesn’t follow that she would take the lead in any post-election negotiations. Gerry Adams may keep to the centre stage he has occupied since just before Martin McGuinness’s retirement.

The Brexit imbroglio also creates a great opportunity for Sinn Fein to press the other Dublin parties to adopt a more assertive stance on a future united Ireland; and if this doesn’t emerge, to force an existential crisis over the Assembly.

 

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  • grumpy oul man

    As did many Englishmen, Scots, welsh,Irish as many from Dublin charged into machine guns as did from Belfast, they were not the only ones,far from it and to claim that excuses importing guns from Germany and forcing a government to Ignore the will of the majority then you are confused.

  • johnny lately

    Dont shoot the messenger Mike refer your pondering to those loyal order types who have for hundreds of years celebrated and reminded us of the sacrifices their forefathers made in order to aid and support the Dutch usurper in his invasion of Ireland and his overthrowing of their rightful king.

  • AntrimGael

    Revisionist nonsense. Read some of the articles of the journalists who were at the game, especially the Irish hacks. They said it was poisonous, nasty, intimidating and totally hateful.

  • Fear Éireannach

    The “Roman Catholic community in NI” did not have opportunity to direct the conduct of the IRA while people can replace an elected government with one with different policies. British state violence has therefore been on behalf of British people.

  • johnny lately

    Yes they did Dreary just like lots of other Irishmen from the other side of the religious and political fence, all volounteers too none were conscripted. However misguided and gullible I believe they were they were incredibly brave individuals and honourable men who believed they were fighting in some way for Ireland but ultimately give their lives for the benefit of bankers and investors who used them as cannon fodder.

  • grumpy oul man

    And David Irvine spoke often about how close the relationship between the terror groups and the DUP/UUP was, and i have showed how close that relationship was but you chose not to see it.
    Have you nothing to say in response to what i said about the forming of the murderous Ulster resistance.
    there is no difference between unionist and loyalist when it comes to terror, Unionists stood with paisley and the UVF/UDA many many times and in the most violent times, so please you may chose not to see (and you are not alone ,most unionists have this blind spot) but any reasonable observer will see that the DUP has blood on it hands, it may have not pulled the triggers but it set the scene and supported the ones who did.

  • john millar
  • North Down

    From looking trough a republican lens, I see were your coming from, as unionists we see things differently, you can call it a blind spot if you want, many resonable observer will tell you that unionists don’t vote for terrorism, what your talking about most unionists don’t know about that , OK call it a blind spot, so I’ve come to the conclusion it will 2-3 generations before we can have a normal government, nice talking to you

  • grumpy oul man

    No i am looking through the lens of a person who has had friends murdered by unionists and watched trimble, paisley. and Robinson stand and support the people who murdered my friends.
    Most unionists don’t see this because they don’t want to see it.
    Unionists get all righteous about SF but forget they vote for the people who formed Ulster Resistance (70 people murdered by UR guns), stood with the UVF/UDA during the UWC violence (39 people murdered) then Drumcree, Harryville, Twaddle, but somehow you all manage to not see this.
    As for any reasonable observer saying unionists don’t vote for terrorism or terrorists, do you ever wonder why unionism is such a unpopular grouping outside unionists. it because reasonable observers know what they done and watch the claims of injured innocents with clean hands as repellent.
    But that you again for telling me my dead are less important than yours.

  • grumpy oul man

    read it yourself.
    not written by the IRA but someone else could you please prove your claim . how about prove it or admit your wrong.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    Surely the RUC and the UK government (and by implication or perhaps more [although to justify this I would have to do some research which I would find unpleasant] the DUP) were also involved in murder

  • Jams O’Donnell

    There is no ‘hierarchy of victims’ – when you are dead you are dead, and your friends and relations will be equally sorry or perhaps glad whoever killed you.

    There may be a ‘hierarchy of blame’ but to keep dragging it around does no favours to anyone. And if I was asked, I would say the blame lies mainly on the unionist/protestant side (and I was brought up in Protestantism).

  • john millar
  • john millar

    Children murdered in Claudy the same as “volunteer” killed on active service?

  • NotNowJohnny

    Unionists consistently voted for Ian Paisley in their thousands despite the fact he was one of the prime instigators of the troubles, despite the fact he formed one of the most sectarian political parties ever to be created in Northern Ireland, despite the fact he encouraged the RUCs use of violence, despite the fact he stood shoulder to shoulder with loyalist terrorists and despite the fact he formed his own paramilitary organisation. Just how big do you think your blind spot is?

  • grumpy oul man

    Third time unlucky add that to the vulgarity and we have a winner for the ” completly unable to back up his point” award.
    Congrats you beat tough oppisition from jolly and MU bit through sheer ignorance you managed to pull it off.

  • North Down

    OK keep telling yourself this, I will make it easier for you your right all unionists support terrorism yes are fault, there that eill make it easier on you when uou vote SF ira

  • North Down

    OK if that makes it easier for you to vote SF you right, now you can vote SF

  • North Down

    So much SF propaganda on that post,( apart from your friends being killed which am sorry about) fist of all you never read my posts properly, you tristed every post to suit your beliefs, you have still so much hate in you I can see , try using some of that on SF ira who did so much harm on the Catholic community as well

  • grumpy oul man

    First i am not a Shinner and i feel that you calling my opinion propaganda very offensive and sectarian,
    Its appears i am right you have no real care about murdered Catholics so save your false sympathy.
    And i am amused that your answer to the murder of Catholics by groups that your political leaders set up is to shout themmuns.
    You claim to be a christian, try.
    Matthew 7 1-5
    and think upon it.

  • North Down

    Just showed the guy in work are posts, a Catholic, he said you were the one judging and being a …., no were in my posts I was trying to wind you up are being judgemental, no real care about catholics that’s when he said he has it in for you, because you can’t get that from the posts, you’ve tristed everything, don’t post me again

  • NotNowJohnny

    I presume you aren’t disagreeing with what I wrote then. Otherwise you would have provided some basis for your disagreement. Or perhaps you do disagree but you can’t find a sound basis to do so? Of course I didn’t say all unionists support terrorism, but hey, don’t let the facts get in the way eh?

  • john millar

    So SF and IRA don`t claim to represent :-

    1 The catholic community in NI ?
    2 The republican community in NI ?

    Further – They were not/are not the “protectors” of the Roman Catholic community in NI ?

    Whats the ogla na heireann claim then – on whose benefit is ogla na heireann operating –

    It would seem unlikely that they are killing people on behalf of protestant Ireland

  • Mike the First

    Which would still be a different thing entirely to there being “widespread glee and disgusting, floating, hateful bigoted chanting and singing…about Greysteele [sic]”, no? Did you not read what I was replying to?

  • grumpy oul man

    Firstly , you may not be keeping up with tje news but the IRA ceased to exist a while ago.
    The Ira claimed to be fightiny for a united Ireland.
    The catholics community did call them I Ran Away in 1969 because of thier failure to protect tham from loyalist mobs but this was before the provos formed.
    Still no cigar for you.
    Maybe you are confusing them with the still active loyalists who claim to be protecting the protestant community (by selling them drugs) and get given money by the DUP.

  • Katyusha

    What authority did the IRA have to say that? And why would you believe them? Did they have a mandate to claim that? The SDLP were the largest nationalist party all the way up until after the GFA. It’s a pretty clear signal that from the Roman Catholic community, it was not done in their name.

    And I cannot find anywhere in your link where the IRA claim to have acted in the name of the Catholic community. They did take the opportunity to protect the Catholic community from loyalist mobs, but their fight was ideological and they derived their legitimacy from elsewhere (from some mythical notion that they were the legitimate government from a former incarnation of the Irish state.

    Also, “conservapedia”. Really, John? You’re citing that as a source? An American right-wing, neoconservative bubble chamber site – the slightly quaint version of today’s “fake news” and “alternative facts”?

  • john millar

    “Firstly , you may not be keeping up with tje news but the IRA ceased to exist a while ago.

    Some disagreement here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34026678

    but murder is sort of ok if its former volunteers killed ?

    and here

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/20/ira-still-exists-but-in-much-reduced-form-says-official-report

    and here

    http://www.ibtimes.com/ira-still-exists-provisional-irish-republican-army-goals-have-changed-radical-faction-2148582

    “The Ira claimed to be fightiny for a united Ireland.”

    I was unaware that (amongst others) remembrance ceremonies, building workers. church congregations and the children of policeman were formed up in battle formation

  • john millar

    “What authority did the IRA have to say that? And why would you believe them? Did they have a mandate to claim that? ”

    Were they/are they not “ogla na heireann” operating a the true army of republican Ireland ?
    Do they not still exist ? (see above)
    What other authority do they need ?

  • Katyusha

    Were they/are they not “ogla na heireann” operating a the true army of republican Ireland ?

    Do you think they were? Do you think they are?

    The vast, vast majority of Irish people recognise a different group as Óglaigh na hÉireann, operating the true army of republican Ireland.

    Do they not still exist ? (see above)

    No. Don’t be silly.

    What other authority do they need ?

    Well, that depends. Do you believe in the continuing authority of the second Dáil? Do you believe that the IRA (if they still exist, or in whatever form they would exist) is the legitimate government of a 32-county Irish Republic?
    If you do, I don’t know what to say to you. There aren’t many people who believe that kind of nonsense.

    If you actually recognise the current government of Ireland as legitimate, then there’s no way the IRA would have any authority, is there? Do you believe they do or did?

    And even if they did have some kind of authority passing from the long-lost second Dáil, it still wouldn’t give them the authority to act on behalf on the “Roman Catholic community in NI”, especially was an authority which had no reference to Catholicism or any religion, and comes form an era before NI was even an idea, never mind a state.

  • grumpy oul man

    Try reading these things before you supply links.
    And the discussion was about what the IRA claimed and you have not proved your claims.
    Also i dont believe i ever tried to justify any part of the IRA actions so i am a bit confused about the last bit of your post.
    Now if the mopery can be set aside maybe we can deal in facts.

  • Jams O’Donnell

    Children have been murdered on/by both sides – are you saying some children are more important than other children?

  • Jams O’Donnell

    I don’t have a vote in NI. Generally I vote SNP, and after independence, Anarchist – if there is an Anarchist candidate.