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"Nobody wants us."  Invisible Northern Ireland celebrates its 100th anniversary

“Nobody wants us.” Invisible Northern Ireland celebrates its 100th anniversary

Northern Ireland, the smallest country in the United Kingdom, was founded 100 years ago. This is the law that draws the line between the Republic of Ireland and the newly created British Territory. However, the celebrations on May 3, 1921 were not spectacular. According to the common law BBC Nothing happened in practice.

David Torrance, librarian of the British House of Commons, told the BBC on the day of the founding that “nothing is known, nothing is apparent.” The celebration did not take place until seven weeks later, when British King George V Belfast arrived – tens of thousands of people watched the celebrations, and unlike the actual day of their founding, the cheers of the fans were heard.

Of the thirty-two Irish districts, Northern Ireland comprises six: Antrim, Armack, Town, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. However, people around the newly created border did not notice a difference and the border infrastructure was not established after many years. “From a legal point of view, Northern Ireland had a parliament, so there was a limit,” Torrance explained.

One hundred years later, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains open. But a lot has changed.

Complex Brexit

Northern Ireland enters a new century, plagued by three decades of bloody civil war and a continuing hostility between trade unionists (believers) and Republicans (nationalists) camps. That is, those who wish to be part of the United Kingdom or, conversely, rejoin the Republic of Ireland. Moreover, with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, the problems faced by the people of Ulster have deepened.

After tough diplomatic maneuvers and years of Brexit talks, a fluid border was established in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain. According to the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which is part of the Brexit Accord. This is the only way not to violate the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the international peace treaty, which has called the 30-year conflict The Troubles (Trouble).

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Thanks to that, Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. But the locals can be identified as Irish, British or both. A tool that has helped maintain weak stability in Ulster for many years, but has been hampered by divorce from the EU.

With Brexit, the British left the European single market and various goods had to cross customs control. Due to the Good Friday Agreement it is not possible to create a solid border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, so Northern Ireland is a member of the single market and after entering its territory the goods are restricted. This may continue in Ireland – an EU member state.

In practice, the beginning of 2021 is not uniform for Northern Ireland. There is no food on the shelves of supermarkets, and union groups have repeatedly spoken out against the liquid limit since January. Tensions eventually erupted after violent protests erupted in Northern Ireland after Easter.

“The Northern Irish Unionist, or Protestant – Protestant community has long been very sensitive to anything that could mean that Northern Ireland is a special and ‘different’ part of the United Kingdom in any way. They denounced support for the Good Friday Accord, which is very dangerous, “said Hynek Mellicher, a political scientist with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Balak in Olomouc. Interview with Chesnam Isprevi in ​​April.

Invisible Northern Ireland

“With less damage, it’s certainly possible to do it more emotionally. They did not think of Northern Ireland, they wanted a harder and harder Brexit, until they ended up with a harder variant, i.e., when I left Brexit without an agreement,” said Graham Dawson, a professor at Brighton University in February Said.

Although Brexit brought Northern Ireland to the forefront of national attention, for a long time the British government did not seek it. “Northern Ireland has not been interested in the British government for a long time. It changed with Tony Blair’s government. He also won a political Good Friday agreement. However, with the provision of the agreement, I and other researchers feel that Britain has said, ‘OK, we should,'” Dawson said. He noted that the Kingdom has not made the latest decision for a bloody war.

The invisible feeling has been with the Ulster people – regardless of their political or religious beliefs – for many years. In 2019, at a time when negotiations on a divorce agreement were in full swing, a resident of Fivemildown told a British newspaper Defender: “This is Northern Ireland. No one wants us anyway, not London or Dublin. We’m a victim. People are just poison.”

Merger with Ireland as an option

The political scene in Northern Ireland is even more complicated. Stormont, the Northern Ireland equivalent of Parliament, last fell in 2017 and has not worked for three years. This was reinstated last January – just days before Northern Ireland’s first minister, Arlene Foster, resigned from both her leading positions in government and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Outgoing First Minister Arlene Foster.

In the January poll, The Belfast Telegraph hosted less than 2,300 respondents, with Republican Sinfine leading the DUP by 5 percent. But the elections are still a long way off and will not take place until next spring. According to BBC The DUP will go for it with the aim of stopping the Northern Ireland protocol.

What is the future for Northern Ireland? The media repeats one word: unstable. Compared to other regions and countries in the UK, Northern Ireland does not perform better in many ways. According to the National Statistics Office, Ulster has long had the highest unemployment rate in decades – 10 percent higher than the national average for decades.

More than thirty years after the end of the peace agreement, the division of power in the Northern Ireland cabinet, which is jointly ruled by unionists and Republicans, is still on the table, with the possibility of merging Ireland with Ulster. Support for such a move is growing. It is caused by population change, and emerging Catholic nationalists want to join the Republic of Ireland, which is part of Brexit, which has brought undesirable obstacles to the lives of people in Northern Ireland.

After all, it started according to Sin Fine News The web Al Jazeera calls on governments in both London and Dublin to consider the possibility of merging. “We’ve been waiting for this for a few years, not decades,” John O’Dowd, a Member of Parliament for Sinn Fin, told AJ.