What Is The Anglo Irish Agreement

What Is The Anglo Irish Agreement

The agreement represents a radical change in Prime Minister Thatcher`s position. During her first term, she placed the utmost importance on maintaining British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. In her first meeting with FitzGerald, after becoming Prime Minister in 1981, she noted that she considered the North „as British as Finchley“ and was referring to her own constituency in the south of England. FitzGerald replied that Britain had not deployed thousands of troops to Finchley, nor had a secretary of state in the cabinet for Finchley`s affairs. An Irish official described Mrs Thatcher as „the last true trade unionist.“ At the other end of the political ladder, hard-line Republicans rejected the deal because Dublin recognized British sovereignty over Northern Ireland. The Provisional IRA claimed recognition of the agreement, indicating that its armed campaign had forced the British to make concessions to the nationalists. Sinn Fein simply chose to reject the agreement and denounce it at every opportunity. Paramilitary violence continued on both sides, but it did not escalate significantly. To encourage the two enemy communities of the North to cooperate, the negotiators of the agreement decided to call for the creation of an economic development fund financed by special grants from Great Britain, the European Community, Canada, Australia and, they hope, the United States. Despite the restrictions imposed by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Finance Act, President Reagan proposed and House of Representatives spokesman O`Neill is actively supporting a one-time grant of $250 million, with an effective envelope spread over five years. This money would go to a trust fund to be set up by the British and Irish governments. Within Northern Ireland, the agreement was largely unpopular.

The Unionists strongly opposed it, as Mr Thatcher did not include them in the negotiations. They also opposed the proposed IGC, fearing that Dublin would have a hand on the levers of the Ulster government. The British and Irish governments, which followed this vote closely, had some encouraging news. The two nationalist parties contested only the four districts where Catholics have a majority. SDLP candidates committed to the agreement and their vote increases increased by 19% compared to the 1983 parliamentary elections. Support for Sinn Fein, which is attacking the deal as a „sell-off“ to the British, has fallen by 25%. Given that the political rationale for the agreement is to reduce the alienation of nationalists, the strong idea of the SDLP shows that this justification is reasonable. The excessive language of politicians, the threats of violence of Protestant gunmen, who have a plethora of weapons, and the gloomy mood of the entire trade union community, from university intellectuals to unemployed workers, do not bode well for the reconciliation of the two northern communities, which is ideal for reaching the agreement.

When the two governments worked on the agreement, there was no reason to doubt the words of Barry White, an editor of the Belfast Telegraph and a respected observer of the Nordic scene, who had written a few months earlier: „Protestant trade unionists in Northern Ireland and Roman Catholic nationalists were never further away.“ What can trade unionists do to undermine the agreement? This is the imperative question now and for the coming year. Never before had Britain officially recognized that Ireland had a legal role to play in the direction of the North.

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