Joachim Fritz-Vannahme
13. January 2020

#Northern Ireland – joining forces!

“Time is out of joint. O cursed spite that I ever I was born to set it right!,“ Shakespeare’s Hamlet ominously states in view of worrying events at the Danish court centuries ago.

It is not (yet) that bad at present. Despite Trump and Mullahs and Iran and Iraq. In spite of Libya, Syria, Kurdistan, where everywhere people continue to suffer and die.

So let’s talk about the positive here and now, especially since some of our contemporaries might have missed it last weekend.

 

Finally, a government in Stormont Castle again. And what a government!

 

The eye wanders to Belfast. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is arriving this Monday and will meet the new and first Northern Ireland regional government in years at Stormont Castle.

“In and around Northern Ireland it will be decided whether the United Kingdom can continue in its present geographical size. In this situation it is good news that the major parties in the province have come together to form a new government,” the FAZ applauded this Monday.

And the Financial Times sounds no less respectful, “The Stormont deal offers hope to Northern Ireland businesses. A key challenge will be removing any need for costly border checks into to the rest of the UK”.

 

What broke in Northern Ireland two years ago is now to be put back together

 

You rub your eyes: The pro-British and Protestant Democratic Unionist Party led by Arlene Foster and the pro-Irish Catholic Sinn Fein under its vice-president Michelle O’Neill are forming a government two years after its predecessor broke over energy policy.

On the surface, at least. For this went much deeper at the time, as the BBC recalls, ” Relations between the DUP and Sinn Féin had deteriorated in recent years as the two parties were diametrically opposed not only on Northern Ireland’s position within the UK, but also issues such as the Irish language; same-sex marriage; abortion and how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles. But unexpectedly it was a row over a green energy scheme which pushed their relationship past breaking point.”

The highly unequal partners agreed on just those old issues this weekend, or at least they agreed to find solutions.

 

“A new decade, a new approach” – that’s the ambitious motto in Belfast

 

Their “Priorities of the Restored Executive” under the forward-looking title “The New Decade, New Approach” deal packs over sixty pages of precisely those squabbles into the common box of good intentions, from health and education policy to the hitherto highly controversial issues of language policy and the cultivation of traditions.

Johnson could and should help immediately on at least one point: In Northern Ireland, nurses have been striking for weeks for better pay and working conditions. They are part of the National Health Service of the entire kingdom, which has been ailing for decades and urgently needs at least a financial injection.

 

In Northern Ireland, Johnson can show for the first time how serious he is

 

This is exactly the therapy that the conservatives under Johnson had promised during the election campaign at the end of 2019. In Belfast, the PM can now show how serious he is about it.

Will you, Prime Minister, set things right? That is what the Northern Irish are going to ask him today. After all, they have already joined forces in the gloom of Brexit Britain.

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