By Jamie Bryson
The Belfast Agreement is the underlying cause of all the problems Unionism now faces. The rot began in earnest in 1998, and has continued at pace ever since. It breathed live into what is commonly known as the ‘peace process’, which is Belfast Agreement speak for the method of perpetual appeasement of republican demands.
A process by its very definition has a beginning and an end. Therefore if you want to understand how the process concludes, you simply turn to the Belfast Agreement and its domestic enabling legislation, the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
It is clear from both that the conclusion is at the point when a referendum on a United Ireland is in favor of Northern Ireland being torn from the United Kingdom. That is the end of the ‘process’.
It is for this basic reason I have always found it an incredible act of self-harm that unionists operated the institutions of the Belfast Agreement, which are by design constructed in order to advance the process to its pre-determined conclusion.
It is for this reason that it is trite to point out that the Belfast Agreement is a pro-nationalist construct, designed in all its parts to transition towards a United Ireland by incrementally stripping away British culture and tradition under the weaponised banner of ‘equality’ and ‘parity of esteem’, and embedding ever greater North-South harmonisation.
The underpinning root of the Belfast Agreement is that it entwines peace with its process. In effect inserting a built in veto for the threat of nationalist violence. Each time nationalism demands another concession in order to keep the process on track, it must be delivered in order to ‘protect peace’. That is why the RUC had to be dismembered, why the union flag had to be torn from our prime civic building, why the right to celebrate culture had to be regulated to the point of eradication and why ultimately it became necessary to partition the United Kingdom as a reward for nationalist threats of violence.
Given the underpinning methodology of the Belfast Agreement is that it creates a process which must continue an incremental advance to a United Ireland via increased North-South harmonsation (alongside the de-Britification of NI via a culture war), it is no surprise it was weaponised to further advance that objective by using a threat to peace as political leverage in order to attain the imposition of a border in the Irish Sea.
This border delivers an economic United Ireland, which by design orientates the economy away from GB and towards Dublin. It is but a small step from economic unity to political unity; indeed the model for such a transition was arguably designed by the European Union itself.
Notwithstanding the green nature of the Belfast Agreement, it nevertheless did contain safeguards for cross-community consent on “key issues” (see Strand 1 (5) (d)) which was given effect in domestic law by Section 42 (1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 which provides that “a matter coming before the Assembly…” could be subject to the activation of a Petition of Concern.
On 10 December 2020 the Government unilaterally amended the sacrosanct Belfast Agreement via inserting Schedule 6A into its domestic law incarnation. This amendment provided that Section 42 of the Act was to be disapplied when it came to the vote on continuing with the Protocol. In other words, the cross-community consent safeguards were only ever sacrosanct in so far as they were required to protect nationalist interests. The very moment the opportunity came to put Unionists under the jackboot of a pan-nationalist Assembly majority, the ‘safeguards’ were happily shredded.
In this context, notwithstanding the illogical nature of ever operating the Belfast Agreement, it is incredible that any self-respecting Unionist is advocating continuing with Stormont. The logic of those desperately seeking to cling to Stormont appears to be that we must swallow yet another kick in the teeth, because as responsible Unionists we must seek to be acceptable to the very same nationalists who are trying to subjugate us in an economic United Ireland.
We also have some other ‘unionists’ who are now waxing lyrical about the need be ‘reasonable’ by continuing with Stormont. These people clearly are asleep or willingly oblivious to the reality that we are not dealing with reasonable people. The mere spectacle of how pan-nationalism deployed the threat of violence for political leverage when it suited them (supposedly out of a morally pure motive of ‘protecting peace’), warning how a border between NI and the Republic would undermine the Belfast Agreement- only to then cheerlead for the “rigorous implementation” of an internal UK border, imposed via shredding cross community consent.
Do the ‘Slow Surrender’ advocates of continuing the Belfast Agreement, limping along the path to the destruction of the Union like lambs to the slaughter, have no self-respect or dignity left?
I for one am sick, sore, and tired of Unionism constantly having to bend over backwards to pander to nationalism. We have been in this perverse situation for over two decades. The Belfast Agreement has been weaponised against the Unionist community. Pull the institutions down. Que Sera Sera.