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Helt ute av sporet (Okumala ekigwo okulyaku kya okuziga)

A New Report finds that the Tories and EU are “in deep water” concerning the implementing the Brexit and at the same time honoring the Good Friday Agreement!

There are enough troubles over the seas and between the British Islands. It isn’t enough that a Northern Irish political party is forming a coalition with the Conservative Party. The Tories and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that is enough for breaking the impartiality in the devolution and following the Good Friday Agreement alone. But there are other parts of the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Agreement that get touched in the possible break-up between the European Union and United Kingdom, which has the Northern Ireland as part of it. Therefore, the released report from House of the Oireachtas is important. What the reports point at is all the aspects that will affect the Northern Ireland and their citizens. As well, as the promised possibilities of movement of people and goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom is jointly part of the Good Friday, they both have responsibilities towards the peace process and the devolution in Northern Ireland.

But to not put word in the mouth of the report. The issues it address, it does well on it is own!

For Strand 1 (Assembly and Executive), the question arises of whether powers held now at EU level will be devolved unchanged to the Assembly if the UK passes a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ intended to repatriate powers from the EU to the UK. Should it be decided to first change and then devolve these powers (e.g. in relation to employment rights or environmental standards), it is possible that there would be implications for the rights guaranteed by the Good Friday Agreement” (…) “For Strand 2 (North-South cooperation) it has been noted that the limited scope of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) and North-South implementation bodies means that much of their focus at present centres on EU-related work, for example management of EU funding and coordination on compliance with EU regulations. If Brexit means there is no longer an EU focus to Strand 2 the question arises as to how to ensure this Strand remains meaningful. It has been suggested that Strand 2 might provide a mechanism for enhanced North-South cooperation in the event of Brexit” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 11, 2017).

In total, since its inception 21 years ago the PEACE programme has provided over €2.2bn for important reconciliation work in Northern Ireland and the Irish border region, and INTERREG, since its inception 25 years ago, has provided over €1.1bn to encourage cross border cooperation in job creation and infrastructure development in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 23, 2017). “One of the main concerns expressed by many witnesses is the future of PEACE and INTERREG when the current programmes finish in 2020. The Committee notes and welcomes the UK Government’s commitment to guarantee EU funding until the end of 2020 but the uncertainty after that period is deeply worrying” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 24, 2017).

Now, more than ever before in the face of such political and economic uncertainty and instability in Northern Ireland, the importance of programmes that address issues such as intercommunity conflict, reconciliation, cross border cooperation and relationships, the development of infrastructure and jobs, needs to be recognised and these programmes protected. The Committee urges the Government to ensure the matter of EU funding for Northern Ireland and the border region remains high on the agenda and an expeditious solution is found for successor programmes after 2020” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 26, 2017).

The statements of the UK Government and the European Union acknowledging the importance of not returning to a hard border are welcome. Yet the uncertainty around what arrangements will be put in place and how these might affect trade flows, businesses with branches on both sides, movement of people living on one side and working in another is already taking a heavy toll. Brexit has also sharpened the focus on the immense gains of an invisible border, gains that for many had been heretofore taken for granted and underestimated but that are now keenly appreciated as their existence becomes threatened. These include economic gains (see the unemployment statistics below), as well as social, cultural and most importantly psychological gains” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 27, 2017).


“This weakness is likely to be compounded by Brexit with an expected reduction in cross border trade and economic cooperation, loss of FDI and loss of EU economic development funding. Northern Ireland’s anticipated 12.5% corporation tax rate was expected to boost inward investment however this was largely predicated on continued EU membership and access to the single market. The Committee further heard that the Brexit vote had already brought a considerable degree of uncertainty which is negatively impacting businesses and SMEs and is likely to remain for years. Businesses are less likely to invest in an unstable climate and Brexit is already creating barriers to the efficient conduct of business. Smaller businesses (SMEs) dependent on exports to Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are being particularly badly hit” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 28, 2017).

The Common Travel Area predates Irish and British EU membership. It allows for free movement of Irish and British citizens between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain and guarantees the rights of Irish and British citizens to live and work in each other’s jurisdictions. However, there is no precedent for its operation with one State inside the EU and the other outside it” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 30, 2017).

The Committee acknowledges that much progress has been made but there remains a long way to go in addressing many outstanding legacy issues, dealing with ongoing justice and security matters and breaking down barriers and divisions between communities, both at a psycho-social level and in terms of access to services. Northern Ireland still faces enduring challenges of building and restoring inter-community harmony and addressing the legacy of its troubled history. It should be noted that the issue of sectarianism remains a significant problem in Northern Ireland. According to Cooperation Ireland, 95% of social housing in Northern Ireland is segregated; just 5% of children go to integrated schools. There were 18 so-called “peace walls” before the Good Friday Agreement, but there were 88 of them in 2008 – an incredible 70 additional walls erected since the Good Friday Agreement” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 34, 2017).

The Good Friday Agreement, in effect, provided equal identity to all. Many have availed of their right to hold an Irish passport. This gives rise to the unprecedented situation in which several hundred thousand Irish citizens, resident in Northern Ireland, will, overnight, and in most cases against their will, find themselves outside the European Union. As noted by Cooperation Ireland, “leaving the EU could raise issues of identity in ways that none of us can yet see.” (…) “Dr Morrow further cautioned that “unilateralism in the context of the Good Friday Agreement and uncertainty are both really serious and significant issues, all of which have potentially very major knock-on effects in a context of fragility.” (Houses of the Oireachtas, P: 35, 2017).

Brexit must not be a distraction from the important work of reconciliation, the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, addressing legacy issues and building cooperation. Northern Ireland’s concerns for stability and a continuing and seamless expression of Irish citizenship and identity require a unique answer and focus. We cannot see restrictions on movement of people again. Brexit is already having a psychological impact. It is absolutely essential to ensure there is no diminution or unravelling of the still fragile peace process. Dialogue must be encouraged at all times, between all parties and stakeholders within Northern Ireland, and on an all island basis” (House of the Oireachtas, P: 36, 2017).

Clearly, the Brexit implicates the Northern Irish very much not only the impartiality of the Tories government with a DUP infused powered cabinet. The Tories have to make sure the Good Friday Agreement are respected as part of the negotiations in the Brexit agreements. Therefore, the movement of Northern Irish together with a soft border between the Republic and the Northern Ireland is important. As both states United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland has stakes in Northern Ireland. The citizenship and devolution has to work together with becoming independent from the European Union. That is a hard bargain. The dialogue between the parties in Northern Ireland and the Tories government.

We can just see how the much all parties will respect the Good Friday Agreement, if the United Kingdom or the European Union together with their Member State Republic of Ireland want’s to honor the Northern Irish constituents. Certainly, the negotiations are just starting as the Brexit time table is only beginning for the Tories and their team. However, the Good Friday Agreement and the implications should be well-known for the United Kingdom and European Union. Therefore, to respect the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, should be very important, so that the state of affairs and the peaceful progress of the Belfast Agreement can implemented and also create a sustainable peace. There are enough stirring waters already, doesn’t need questionable behavior from London to make it worse. But that is only what time would tell. Clearly, the Tories government has to either sink or swim, but no matter what their feet will get wet. Peace.

Reference:

Houses of the Oireachtas – ‘Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement – The Implications of Brexit for the Good Friday Agreement: Key Findings’ (June 2017).

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