Friday, July 23, 2021
HomeNewsLet’s be clear: Biden the bully is our enemy over Northern Ireland

Let’s be clear: Biden the bully is our enemy over Northern Ireland

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JOE Biden instructed his official in London to deliver a highly unusual attack, rebuking Boris Johnson for  ‘inflaming tensions’ in Northern Ireland because the UK is not obeying the EU’s instructions on implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.  

The US President is claiming to be upholding the Good Friday Agreement and peace in the province, and he is taking precisely the same line as the EU – that the Protocol is essential for the preservation of the Good Friday Agreement and peace.  

According to Callum Hoare, writing in the Express, the EU has teamed up with Biden, who will act as its front man to coerce the UK to kowtow to the Protocol as it bullies the Unionists.  

Joe Biden has considerable form as a fundamentalist Irish republican who has gone on record to show disdain for Northern Ireland’s Unionists. He did not deliver any stinging rebuke to the EU when it put down a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland in order to stop vaccines being exported to the UK – an illegal act under the Protocol and flagrantly breaching the Agreement. 

Oh no, genuine and damaging breaches of the Agreement don’t really matter to Mr Biden, nor to EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, his partner in this coercive realpolitik against the UK.  

We seem to back in the 1930s, with Joe Kennedy as the US ambassador in London, pro-Nazi, anti-British and virulently pro-Irish republicanism. Despite matey walks with Boris Johnson along a Cornish beach, Biden is holding a political knife to the throat of the UK, and in so doing is really inflaming the Northern Ireland situation and destroying the peace won by the Agreement.  

It is a clever and highly disingenuous move by the EU, aped by Biden, to say that the UK is deliberately stoking up tensions, when the truth is precisely the reverse. This is truly bad faith by Brussels. 

Ruth Dudley Edwards, an Irish historian writing in the Telegraph, says that Biden ‘doesn’t understand Northern Ireland’. As an American with some Irish family background, he loves to parade himself as more Catholic Irish than any Dublin politician now.   

As she says, ‘despite his soothing words in Cornwall yesterday, Biden’s views on Northern Ireland may now be more extreme even than the Dublin government’s, which has a thoughtful and well-informed Taoiseach who cares about the stability of the province’.  

And Biden has been taken in by the Imperialism of the EU, failing to understand its ruthlessness. He knows very little about the Unionist tradition, and is signed up to the view that the British were a jackbooted oppressor in Ireland. Even the Irish Times now calls for the President to engage with the Unionists empathetically. 

Theresa May did a brilliant job of stopping Brexit and ignoring Donald Trump, a very sympathetic US President keen to do a trade deal with the UK, and now her success is crowned by the arrival of the anti-British Biden.  

His actions are supporting the EU’s weaponisation of the Irish border and enraging the Unionists. If he really wants to act as a peacemaker in Northern Ireland, as did former US Senator George Mitchell in the 1990s, he should be insisting that the Republic and the EU implement a smart border, as do the USA and Canada.  

But no, Biden is really interested in hurting the UK and sundering Northern Ireland from Britain, with Šefčovič’s aim of splitting up the UK as punishment for leaving the EU. 

Lord Trimble, Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work in the peace process, wrote in the Times that EU intransigence threatens the Agreement. He said: ‘It is wrong to assert that imposition of the Northern Ireland Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement and President Biden must resist attempts by EU countries to make him believe that it does.  

‘As the GFA’s co-negotiator, with John Hume, I understand better than anyone the central principles which enabled it to be sold to a sceptical and reluctant Unionist population. I can tell the president, the protocol does not defend the GFA. 

‘Negotiating the GFA was difficult and dangerous to myself and my family. I persevered because I believed it was necessary to bring peace. I supported the GFA because there were guarantees to the Unionist population that the Union was safe as long as the majority wanted to stay in the UK and that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would take place only with the consent of its people.  

‘Furthermore that any contentious issues in government had to acquire cross-community consent in the Northern Ireland Assembly. 

‘The problem is that the Protocol subverts the GFA by undermining these guarantees, and it is doing real harm to the economy. Worse, there is now significant trade diversion from Britain to the Irish Republic’. 

Biden is inflaming the almost dead embers of the Northern Ireland tribal hate and warfare, working with the EU whose imperium requires the most severe harm to be suffered by the UK.  

The Protocol is designed to oppress the Unionists and stir up communal tensions. Writing in UnHerd, Journalist and commentator Jenny McCartney points out that the Protocol’s Article 16 anticipates such a situation.  

She says: ‘But by showing that Unionist concerns will be downgraded rather than run any risk of republican violence, the British Government and the EU have now created an awful incentive for loyalist paramilitaries to demonstrate an equivalent level of threat.  

‘That incentive is not just implied, but actually written into Article 16 of the Protocol itself. There, it states that UK or the EU can unilaterally suspend aspects of the Protocol’s operation if it is causing “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist”. That’s the political equivalent of a teacher telling a delinquent school pupil that they can only get out of a locked classroom by setting it alight.  

‘The loyalist paramilitaries – whether by instinct or conscious design – will now make it their business to create “serious societal difficulties” that are “liable to persist”. It’s a terrible script. And unless Britain and the EU can somehow rewrite it, fast, it’s going to make for a very long, hot summer.’  

The Protocol is creating the tensions it predicts. The UK must trigger Article 16, quite legally and within the Treaty. 

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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