Whose Law?
Whose Law?

By eirigi

The stalemate politics that has characterised the Six County assembly since its inception following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 has continued during the recent spate of ‘functionality’ since the St Andrews Agreement of 2007.

Unionism’s refusal to give an inch and the impotence of nationalist politicians to create change under the British constitutional arrangement has seen stalemate after stalemate, negotiation after negotiation and collapse after collapse.

The sectarian political arrangement at Stormont suits the interests of the British government in Ireland perfectly.

Their portrayal of the struggle for national independence and unity as a bitter tribal conflict between two religious sects is playing out as planned within their Stormont construct. The British government can at last fit the role of the disinterested ‘pig in the middle’, with both the nationalist and unionist parties running to the designer for help in keeping Stormont functional.

Meanwhile, British law remains and a British economic system pertains. Those within the Whitehall establishment seem to have played their cards right.

Well-placed political commentators see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as a formula of words is agreed on the devolution of limited policing and justice powers and road maps galore are laid out to secure a local ministerial face to advertise Britain’s paramilitary police in Ireland.

Sinn Féin and DUP ministers have respectfully agreed not to take the position - thus guaranteeing that a DUP electorate won’t have to face what they regularly refer to as “terrorists” controlling the “levers of justice”. And Sinn Féin can assert to their constituency that a right wing unionist will not take charge, and that the levers of power will have shifted to Ireland. The reality is that no minister in Stormont will take charge of British law in Ireland. At best, they will take charge of administering laws passed in Britain and implementing them in the occupied territory.

As the parties in Stormont seek a harmonious outcome to the “policing and justice” logjam and a new lifeline for an incompetent and irrelevant assembly, working people could be forgiven for missing how much of a red herring it all actually is.

The devolution to the Stormont executive of policing and justice powers (except ‘reserved powers’) will in no way create a body that is accountable to the people of Ireland. It will entail a local minister passing laws of limited significance while primarily upholding the British standard of ‘justice’. As always, laws will be passed in Britain and filtered into ‘the colony’.

The disturbing reality of recent developments, however, is that the D’Hondt system of representation has been forsaken in this instance in the first steps to a complete ‘majority rule’ mechanism long sought by the DUP. The nationalist community in the Six Counties know only too well what ‘majority rule’ (in reality, unchallenged unionist hegemony) entails.

The DUP are the strongest domestic political force in the Six Counties and, stewarded by the British government, have fought those who seek equality every bit of the way, knowing that the basis of the Six County state depends on inequality. Hence, the vociferous and daily attacks on all things Irish.

The British government, however, are the strongest military and political force in Ireland and one of the strongest in the world. Their Irish presence is maintained at present by careful and clinical political manoeuvring to stifle popular resistance. Whereas, in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is maintained by carefully and clinically slaughtering all opposition.

The ‘levers of power’ remain as they were. British law remains as it was. The occupation remains. The foreign soldiers remain. The unjust economic system remains.

And the Irish people remain in the position they have been for centuries. We either accept or we resist. No choice at all.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News