Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday Agreement.’

Does the Handshake between King Charles and Sinn Fein Indicate Better Relations Between Irish Nationalists and the British State?

September 20, 2022

Maximilien Robespierre also put up a rather optimistic video a few days ago. During his brief appearance in Northern Ireland, King Charles met and shook hands with the head of Sinn Fein in province. Or at least, the head of Sinn Fein in the Stormont assembly. Robespierre played a clip of an interview with one of the Irish politicians talking about the importance of the handshake. It looks trivial, but it represents an enormous development in the party’s attitudes towards government and the British state. Robespierre said they used a variety of methods in their campaigns for Irish reunion, some of which he didn’t agree with. Well, yes. When I was growing up Sinn Fein were notorious for the very close relationship they had with the IRA and for their defence of the terrorists’ atrocities. Long before the Good Friday Agreement, the late Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein were campaigning in Ulster under the slogan ‘the ballot bomb’. The mere fact that they had shaken King Charles’ hand suggested that political relations had entered a new phase where Sinn Fein were no longer a threat to the British state, and the British state were no longer a threat to Sinn Fein.

If I interpret that correctly, it means that Sinn Fein will go about their aim of achieving Irish reunification through peaceful, democratic methods without fighting a war with the British state. And thus, in the eyes of Robespierre, if I remember correctly, there should be no obstacle for them taking up the leadership of Ulster, as provided by the Good Friday Agreement. I believe that Sinn Fein became the largest party in the assembly at the last election and so their leader should have become First Minister and formed a Sinn Fein majority government under the Agreement. They were prevented from doing so because the DUP refused their support. Democratic government once again fell into abeyance in the province.

I have to say that I don’t care whether Ulster joins Eire or not. That decision should be for the people of Northern Ireland alone. But I do care about democratic government and an end to bloodshed. And I really hope that handshake between the Sinn Fein politico and our new Lord and Sovereign does mean that democracy will return and there will be peace between us and Sinn Fein. My only fear is that the hardliners may see the handshake as Sinn Fein selling out and so split with them and return to violence. I hope this never happens.

In the meantime, I salute our king and Sinn Fein for this gesture of peace. Long may it last.