First victim may be Major's government
A FRAMEWORK FOR PEACE
Thursday 23 February 1995
Are we then to go "back to square one", as suggested by Dick Spring? No. Under the honeyed words in which this document cloyingly abounds there is a veiled threat to the Unionists in paragraph 47: though they are free to reject these proposals they are going to get something worse if they do.
Paragraph 47 runs: "In the event that devolved institutions in Northern Ireland ceased to operate and direct rule from Westminster was reintroduced, the British Government agree that other arrangements would be made to implement the commitment to promote co-operation at all levels between the people, North and South, representing both traditions in Ireland as agreed by the two governments in the Joint Declaration and to ensure that the co-operation that had been developed through the North/South body be maintained."
If the Unionists reject the Framework, they are going to get direct rule from London in co-operation with Dublin, a form of "joint authority" in which the representatives of the majority in Northern Ireland will have no say. This "joint authority" will be worked both by Dublin and London to bring about a united Ireland.
Paragraph 47 will be read by the Sinn-Fein-IRA leadership with satisfaction. Sinn Fein has repeatedly called on the Government to abandon its commitment to the "Unionist veto". That is what Mr Major's government is doing. I strongly suspect paragraph 47 was worked out between the IRA - rather than Dublin - and British officials. It represents the IRA's price for not resuming the armed struggle. The payment of this price makes it more likely loyalist paramilitaries will end their ceasefire, concluded on the assumption, now invalid, that "the Union is safe".
For the IRA, some other Irish nationalists and possibly for some British officials, a resumption of loyalist violence while the IRA's "cessation" remains intact, would be a satisfactory outcome. The British could be less inhibited in crushing a Unionist uprising than they have been with the nationalist one.
This is a plausible path to a united Ireland. But neither Dublin or the people of the Republic actually want a united Ireland containing one million angry Unionists. The Republic's negotiators no doubt feel they have been successful in getting so much nationalist substance in to the Framework. But the people whom those negotiators represent may live to regret that success.
Some nationalists would enjoy the spectacle of the Brits clobbering the Prods. But when the British withdraw, and Dublin is left in possession of a united Ireland imposed by British force, second thoughts would follow among the Catholic population. There will be a lot more dead people, Catholic and Protestant, if what is adumbrated in this so-called Framework for Peace - especially paragraph 47 - is implemented.
None of it may be, for the first victim of the Framework may be Mr Major's government. It is probable James Molyneaux is trying to get from Tony Blair guarantees that Labour will never try to impose on Northern Ireland any settlement not freely accepted by the majority. If Labour provides that guarantee, Mr Major's government will not last long enough to begin to fulfill the threat latent in this Framework.
I hope the damage latent in this Framework may not go beyond the purely political sphere, and that its only victims may be Mr Major and his colleagues who assented to proposals which could have destroyed Northern Ireland, without putting anything more tolerable in its place.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...
£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...