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The roots of the Peace Process? November 25, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The Phoenix has a piece on the speech Bertie Ahern gave at the launch of Conor Lenihan’s biography of Albert Reynolds where he apparently:

rejected the notion that the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed by Fine Gael taoiseach, Sir Garret FitzGerald and British premier Maggie Thatcher was the catalyst for the northern peace process. Instead, he argued, that description should be more properly used to describe the 1993 Downing Street Declaration issued – and here’s the important bit – by Fianna Fáil taoiseach Albert Reynolds and British prime minister John Major.

He argues that there was an ‘orchestrated’ effort to rewrite that history in this context. And the Phoenix suggests that part of this is due to some involved in the AIA (and the FG input into the AIA) seeking to reify that as a foundational aspect of the Peace Process.

I wonder is the truth more complex again? It’s not that the AIA intentionally paved the way for the Peace Process – anymore than the Downing Street Declaration was the catalyst for it either. The AIA was, after all, a fairly conscious effort to clip the wings of a politicising SF, sideline PIRA, and to assist in supporting the SDLP and northern constitutional nationalism (in a vague sort of a way). That the British government and state conceding for the first time that Dublin had a role in Northern Ireland only indirectly assisted. I think that that indirect, and unintentional, consequence unlocked certain elements that would come later, but it is far from the whole story. And of course the Downing Street Declaration was pivotal, but then it too came on foot of other events, most notably the Hume-Adams dialogue and the clear intent on the part of the British state and PIRA and Sinn Féin to work towards some form of agreement. Picking amongst all these for the single source of the Peace Process seems almost perverse.

Comments»

1. EWI - November 25, 2021

I think that the AIA was going in one particular direction, the DSD/GFA went in a very different and in many ways opposed one.

Key factors unlocking Hume/Adams succeeding were relatively pragmatic new Irish and British premiers, the aura effect of the End of HIstory [tm], the EU as the local Major Power, and maybe most importantly the election of Bill Clinton to lead the US (the UK’s Major Power sponsor since WWI and WWII).

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WorldbyStorm - November 25, 2021

I’d agree completely. They were going in different directions, one sought to contain, the other to expand, and I’d think it was almost an indirect outcome of the AIA that it actually helped to make further developments easier (though in fairness to Unionism they did get that, perhaps in ways that FG or even the Tories didn’t at the time). But without question the pragmatism, the aura effect, the EU, the US and perhaps a growing pragmatism in SF and willingness on the part of Hume to work with that. But the idea the AIA was the catalyst is zany, isn’t it?

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EWI - November 25, 2021

But the idea the AIA was the catalyst is zany, isn’t it?

The same people – and no coincidence – also given to equally-unlikely claims about John Redmond delivering Irish independence.

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2. panablogblog - November 25, 2021

The “same people” that advocated the fantasy that Redmond was delivering “Irish Independence” when he encouraged 180,000 Irish people to die fighting for the Army of the British Union, are the same people that are now advocating Irish Independence by ensuring Irish people should die fighting for the emerging Army of the European Union. At least they are consistent in their fantasy. The only difference is that FG has now been joined by FF and the Greens.

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EWI - November 25, 2021

are the same people that are now advocating Irish Independence by ensuring Irish people should die fighting for the emerging Army of the European Union.

Roger, were you looking at the carry-on today with trying to gin up an Irish arms industry lobby?

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3. rockroots - November 25, 2021

As significant as the above was the realisation among mainstream unionists that they could not rely on unconditional backing from even their most natural allies in Downing Street. That’s got to have had an impact on their mindset – that a settlement would be attempted with or without their involvement.

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WorldbyStorm - November 25, 2021

+1

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benmadigan - November 25, 2021

At the time, the AIA seemed to be the best they could achieve with Thatcher in power.
It was the first breakthrough of the stranglehold and the strength of Unionist opposition to it showed they realized, as Rockroots said, they could not rely on unconditional backing from Westmiinster.

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