1. Exquisite Tweets from @EamonnMcKee, @djmgaffneyw4

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    There is a remarkable parallel between the evolution of the EU and the Northern Ireland peace process. The Single European Market in particular enabled a deal; consent by nationalists in return for the all-island expression of their identity. Let's look at the sequence.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    1993 (January); the creation of the Single European Market as agreed back in 1986.
    1993 (April); Hume Adams dialogue begins. Hume grasped the strategic significance of the SEM for peace in Northern Ireland.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    If the SEM eliminated the border for the movement of goods and people, only the ongoing conflict and its requirement for border security stood in the way of a borderless island.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    1993 (December): the Downing Street Declaration by Taoiseach Reynolds and PM Major, a key breakthrough conceptualising a resolution of partition through all-island referenda, opening the way to the end of the use of violence.
    1994 and 1997: IRA ceasefires.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    1998 (April): the Good Friday Agreement. Its approach to North-South relations is framed within the all-island economy and borderless island made possible by the SEM. The GFA didn't need to mandate this because it already existed.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    The North South Ministerial Council established by the GFA expresses nationalist identity in formal inter-governmental structures.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    1998 (May): All-island referenda N and S affirm all-island democratic national self-determination in support of the GFA. Northern Ireland's status is enshrined in the GFA and changes to Articles 2 and 3 of our Constitution.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    2007: with the resolution of issues of policing and decommissioning, establishment of the power-sharing government in NI and full operation of the NS Ministerial Council.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    2016: Brexit
    2017: Suspension of power-sharing government.
    So....

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    This is not to say that the SEM was the foundation for the peace process. The conflict and its resolution involved a complex interaction of factors. But the SEM was a critical contribution in eliminating the visible manifestation of partition in border checks.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    Throughout these years, the EU's Peace Building Programme spent literally billions of Euros supporting peace and reconciliation. Moreover, the whole form of Anglo-Irish relations was inspired by the EU project of inter-governmental cooperation and the spirit of cooperation.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    The EU provided a forum for encounters between British and Irish leaders and senior officials onwards from our joint membership of the EC in 1973. This helped facilitate the Haughey/Thatcher summits and the breakthrough Anglo-Irish Agreement 1985 under FitzGerald/Thatcher.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    The parallel between the EU and NI goes deep: both projects are founded on the belief that the elimination of borders is the greatest contribution you can make to peace building and the elimination of conflict.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

    Almost 75 years of peace in Europe and over 20 years of peace seem to prove the point.

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    EamonnMcKee

    Eamonn McKee

  2. A very useful chronology. I can remember in the late 80s how the idea of a Europe without borders seemed to offer the only basis for optimism, and a weak enough basis it seemed at the time. We are all Humeans now.

    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    I don't know that we have ever really articulated just how fundamental a revision to inherited ways of thinking about politics, the state, nationhood and sovereignty was going on in that period.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    That you could, so to speak, step around the issue of sovereignty; that government functions could be unbundled from each other and shared between jurisdictions; that the border could disappear and sovereignty would take care of itself. All of this was very new.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney

    The key point being that sovereignty would take care of itself. This was a huge advance on earlier proposals which had turned on an ill-defined sharing of sovereignty over NI between Ireland and the UK.

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    djmgaffneyw4

    Declan Gaffney