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Who fears to speak of 1998

Read more about: Fianna Fail, Nationalism, Northern Ireland, Republicanism, Sinn Féin, Unionism     Print This Post

Irish Times citing Martin Mansergh reacting to a comment of Gerry Adams (full Adams interview and exegesis at Slugger) –

Dr Martin Mansergh said Gerry Adams’s assertion on the RTÉ Radio programme This Week that the governments of that time refused to push or promote the repeal of the [Government of Ireland] Act, partitioning Ireland, was at complete variance with the record. Dr Mansergh said former taoiseach Albert Reynolds had always said the Government of Ireland Act would have to be on the table with Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. “The demand, which was acceded to, was maintained right up to the Good Friday agreement and was never taken off the agenda,” Dr Mansergh added.

Here’s Bertie Ahern speaking at the 1998 Arbour Hill commemoration, celebrating what had been achieved by putting the 1920 Act on the table –

That is the clear consequence of the British-Irish Agreement, and the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, the partition act, which with imperious arrogance and futility declared in Section 75 in the middle of the war of independence that ‘The supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters, and things in Ireland and every part thereof’. That will now be consigned to history.

It’s good to know that the mortal threat to the Republic of Ireland, namely a claim of authority by the London Parliament, which had hung over our heads up to 1998, was finally removed by the Good Friday Agreement.

The fact is, Mansergh is playing word games. The Government of Ireland Act never took effect in the Irish Free State, later the Republic, because it was superseded by the Treaty. And it steadily became obsolete in Northern Ireland, especially with the abolition of the original Stormont Assembly in 1972. The hyping up of Section 75 was instead a stunt to create a seeming quid pro quo for getting rid of Articles 2 and 3. Most of all, the Good Friday Agreement clearly recognizes the reality of Northern Ireland as a non-failed political entity — the ultimate rebuke to Mansergh’s favourite boss,  the early 1980s vintage of Charlie Haughey.

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6 Responses to “Who fears to speak of 1998”

  1. # Comment by Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) Jan 31st, 2013 17:01

    Great spot P. Have put it on the thread you link on Slugger above. Be great to have you come and guest with us from time to time…

  2. # Comment by FERGUS O'ROURKE Feb 5th, 2013 08:02

    “the reality of Northern Ireland as a non-failed political entity” ?

    Hmmm.

  3. # Comment by P O'Neill Feb 5th, 2013 21:02

    Hi Fergus.

    The Good Friday Agreement could only take effect if it passed a referendum in Northern Ireland, which it did. But GFA would have been dead with a No vote in NI even if the Republic voted overwhelmingly for it.

    Since then, NI has gotten a devolved power-sharing assembly up and running, with a large measure of autonomy over NI affairs.

    That doesn’t sound like a failed political entity.

  4. # Comment by Veronica Feb 6th, 2013 10:02

    P,

    Ahern’s government, as I understand it, was concerned for some time that any proposal to remove Arts 2 & 3 would provoke a public backlash, not least among the grassroots of Fianna Fail. Framing the abolition in the context of an historical ‘quid pro quo’ was thus politically important. Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act may have been inoperable from the date of the Treaty, but Articles 2 & 3 of our own Constitution were always more aspirational than real. As it turned out, the government’s concerns were unfounded. When it came to a choice between the chance of a viable political settlement within Northern Ireland, as represented by the Good Friday Agreement, and adhering to a largely symbolic constitutional claim, as represented by Articles 2 & 3, there was no contest in the mind of the electorate as the referendum results would prove.

  5. # Comment by FERGUS O'ROURKE Feb 6th, 2013 12:02

    @P O’Neill

    Nothing that you say seems to amount to a compelling argument that it is not a failed political entity. That it is currently being made to work certainly is not such an argument, given the extraordinary arrangements in place.

    I’d like to be hopeful, though.

  6. You do not like this, how can I now consider these feelings, I beg you do so after we had settled again romance okay?.

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