Irlanda del Norte

Murals along the historic Catholic hub of the Falls Road in Belfast celebrate those who died for the republican cause. Rhiannon Adam for The New York Times

Before she died in 2013, Dolours Price, a Provisional Irish Republican Army guerrilla, started granting interviews. She described planting I.R.A. bombs and driving people to their executions, smuggling explosives and going on hunger strike in a British prison.

But it was Ms. Price’s memories of girlhood in 1950s Northern Ireland that kept running through my mind during a recent trip to this city. Ms. Price was born into an era of Catholic disenfranchisement under British rule — job discrimination, vote suppression and barriers to housing and education. Most of all, Ms. Price told the journalist Ed Moloney, her family resented having been left inside Britain — abandoned to live under a government they considered foreign — when six northern counties were partitioned from the rest of the island after Irish independence.…  Seguir leyendo »

A school in Northern Ireland. ‘The first barrier is that people who don’t choose history don’t receive any education on the Troubles; the second is that if they do choose it, there’s a large minority of schools that do not teach the Troubles module.’ Photograph: David Jones/PA

In 1998, there were children as young as 11 reading the full text of the Good Friday agreement in class, such was the unbridled excitement about the opportunity it represented to shape a better future. One might have expected that the globally revered peace agreement responsible for ending Northern Ireland’s 30-year conflict would become a permanent fixture in the curriculum, especially given the living document’s direct and tangible impact on the lives of young people today. At only 36 pages, it is tantalisingly accessible – although “not like a novel”, as Dominic Raab pointed out, when the Northern Ireland affairs committee asked if he had read it in its entirety.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Un reinicio del Brexit?

El ex primer ministro británico Boris Johnson ganó la elección general de diciembre de 2019 con la promesa de que tenía un “acuerdo listo para el horno” para “que se lleve a cabo el Brexit”. Pero si bien el Reino Unido, efectivamente, abandonó la Unión Europea en enero de 2020, el acuerdo de Johnson incluía un protocolo profundamente contencioso que regía el estatus comercial especial de Irlanda del Norte. En consecuencia, la exitosa negociación del primer ministro británico, Rishi Sunak, de un acuerdo enmendado con la presidenta de la Comisión Europea, Ursula von der Leyen, es un avance bien recibido que podría marcar un punto de inflexión en las relaciones entre el Reino Unido y la UE.…  Seguir leyendo »

El primer ministro recibe a la presidenta de la Comisión Europea (27 febrero 2023)

Tema

El gobierno del Reino Unido y la Comisión Europea han logrado un importante acuerdo de implementación del Protocolo sobre Irlanda e Irlanda del Norte, denominado “Marco de Windsor”, que simplifica el sistema de controles aduaneros entre Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte y desbloquea un contencioso de varios años. El acuerdo está pendiente de ratificación por el Parlamento británico, pero de validarse iniciaría una nueva y positiva etapa en las relaciones euro-británicas.

Resumen

El primer ministro del Reino Unido, Rishi Sunak, y la presidenta de la Comisión, Ursula von der Leyen, acordaron el 27 de febrero de 2023 un importante marco de simplificación de los controles aduaneros entre Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte establecidos en el Protocolo sobre Irlanda e Irlanda del Norte, dentro del Acuerdo de Retirada.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protest against the Northern Ireland protocol in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2021. Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain finds himself in an abyss of public disapproval. Few politicians have done less to get there. His unpopularity (his Tory Party now lags the Labour opposition by 21 points) is mostly a result of things that happened before he arrived in office. There was the budgetary incompetence of his short-lived predecessor Liz Truss. There was the untrustworthiness of Boris Johnson, who led Britain out of the European Union after the so-called Brexit referendum.

Now a detail of Brexit that was mismanaged years ago has landed Mr. Sunak in a serious predicament. It stems from the fact that Ireland remains part of the European Union but Northern Ireland no longer is — and yet the two parts of the island are bound by trade and a 25-year-old peace treaty that helped defuse a terrorist conflict between Protestant unionists and Catholics.…  Seguir leyendo »

En un acto de campaña celebrado a finales de julio, el exministro Rishi Sunak, aspirante a suceder a Boris Johnson, anunció que su Gobierno lograría, por fin, desbloquear el brexit.

Su proyecto de ley modificaría el Protocolo de Irlanda del Norte, garantizaría el libre comercio entre Reino Unido, Irlanda del Norte y la República de Irlanda, y lo haría sin necesidad de reingresar en el mercado interior europeo.

La intervención de Sunak es un nuevo ejemplo del elefante que, desde hace seis años, campa a sus anchas en los salones de Westminster: la delicada situación de la frontera entre las dos Irlandas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin at the International Libya conference in Berlin, Germany, January 2020. Photograph: Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA

The British government has taken the first steps to unravelling its agreement with the EU on Northern Ireland – the so-called Northern Ireland protocol. Many Europeans are baffled by this. How can the government – which not only signed this legal agreement but negotiated it “word by word, comma by comma”, to quote the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier – just tear up a binding international treaty that only came into force last year?

But surprised, they are not. Not really. Because in its relationship with the EU, the UK is increasingly starting to behave like Russia – by unilaterally creating facts on the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hasta la madrugada del domingo no hemos conocido el resultado final de las elecciones celebradas en Irlanda del Norte el pasado jueves. La lentitud del escrutinio se debe al llamado sistema de voto único transferible que ordena sucesivas preferencias y obligó a contar hasta 13 veces en alguna mesa, aunque puede servir como metáfora del resultado mismo y la conveniencia de evitar conclusiones apresuradas sobre un supuesto seísmo político que fuera a precipitar una inminente unificación de la isla. Sí, la victoria del Sinn Féin tiene relevancia histórica y los partidos unionistas continúan su declive gradual (algo menos del 45% de apoyo cuando en los años setenta superaban el 70%), pero siguen estando por delante de los nacionalistas (que rondan el 40%) sin que haya cambiado el equilibrio relativo entre bandos con respecto a 2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alliance party leader Naomi Long: ‘Confident and progressive leadership.’ Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

The Irish taoiseach, Micheál Martin, put it politely. It would be “undemocratic” for the Democratic Unionist party to refuse to form an executive in Belfast after the elections, he said. But the DUP will refuse to enter an executive, now that Sinn Féin has massively outpolled it, and a majority of Northern Ireland’s people has voted to have as first minister a republican whose party wants a united Ireland. Sinn Féin gained an astonishing 29% of first preference votes in Thursday’s assembly elections. The DUP got 21.3%, a drop of 6.7% on its last performance.

That refusal, ostensibly a protest over the Northern Ireland protocol, will be even further good news for an already jubilant Sinn Féin, because it proves definitively to its voters that Northern Ireland, set up 101 years ago to be an exclusively unionist state, is incapable of becoming a pluralist one and must therefore be brought to an end.…  Seguir leyendo »

'Belfast' y la memoria fiel

«A los que se fueron, a los que se quedaron, a los que se perdieron». A ellos dedica Kenneth Branagh Belfast, la película que define como «una mirada a una gente y a un lugar en conflicto». A través de los ojos de un niño de nueve años, el director muestra los días de agosto de 1969 en los que Irlanda del Norte entró en una dramática y sangrienta espiral. El estallido de violencia en las calles de Belfast dio paso a una intensa campaña terrorista en la que más de 3.000 personas fueron asesinadas. Sin embargo, Belfast apenas muestra la brutal violencia de aquellos días, tan solo un atisbo poco realista que impide un verdadero tributo a los habitantes de esta emblemática ciudad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flags, including that of the Parachute Regiment, flying in Drumahoe, 24 January 2022. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

The road I grew up on in Drumahoe, on the outskirts of Derry, has been on the news lately, and not in a way that makes me proud. Journalists stand at its junction with the main road from Belfast, pointing up at the purple flag of the Parachute Regiment fluttering high on a lamp-post. They explain its significance at this time of year: it was paratroopers who killed 13 unarmed civil rights marchers in the city on Bloody Sunday in January 1972. Family members of those killed have talked about the pain the flying of these flags causes them. Politicians, including some unionists, and even the Parachute Regiment itself have called it “unacceptable”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A truck is parked outside a money exchange on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland near Jonesborough, Northern Ireland. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

Once again, Northern Ireland’s border is causing strife between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This time, however, it is not just Northern Ireland’s century-old political border with the Republic of Ireland that is the source of the problem, but Northern Ireland’s new post-Brexit economic border with the rest of the U.K.

While tension over what’s called the “Northern Ireland Protocol” seems to have de-escalated after European and U.S. lawmakers intervened, the calm won’t last. The protocol was a messy compromise over how to implement Brexit while maintaining Northern Ireland’s fragile peace. Despite initial problems over coronavirus vaccine supplies, it’s been functioning fairly well.…  Seguir leyendo »

Shoppers on Belfast High Street. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Being from Northern Ireland is exhausting. Being from Northern Ireland and experiencing Brexit is maddening. Two years ago Boris Johnson hailed the withdrawal agreement, which established the Northern Ireland protocol, as an “oven-ready” deal. The EU patted itself on the back. We knew better. We had an inkling of what was to come.

Here we are, almost a year since the protocol was actually implemented, and we’re still talking about it. After declaring that there was no Irish Sea border, after ignoring the fact that businesses in Northern Ireland were sounding the alarm about its implications, the EU and the UK government are still trying to fix their mess.…  Seguir leyendo »

La mayoría de los irlandeses tienen en mente la idea de que Irlanda debería estar unida. Hace exactamente un siglo, la isla se dividió en dos entidades políticas. Los condados del noreste formaron Irlanda del Norte y siguieron vinculados al Reino Unido. El sur se convirtió en un Estado irlandés independiente y, finalmente, en una república.

¿Por qué la diferencia? ¿Por qué la partición? El problema era la existencia de dos grupos étnico-religiosos en conflicto en la isla. Los protestantes irlandeses se concentraban en gran medida en el noreste y deseaban permanecer en el Reino Unido. Los católicos irlandeses constituían la gran mayoría en el resto de la isla y estaban a favor de la independencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riot activity in West Belfast on April 7. (Peter Morrison/AP)

Young people in Northern Ireland have been rioting every night for almost two weeks. Violence that started in low-income Protestant areas in Belfast spilled over to other parts of Northern Ireland, bringing in Catholic youths, as well. Protesters set a bus and cars on fire, and hurled petrol bombs, bottles, bricks and roof tiles at each other over some of Belfast’s peace walls, which separate the two communities.

Targeted by both sides, nearly 90 police officers have been injured in the violence. This type of street violence was common during the Troubles, Northern Ireland’s 30-year conflict. But a peace agreement was signed 23 years ago — so why are people rioting again?…  Seguir leyendo »

Police form a line on a road to stop nationalists and loyalists from attacking each other, as a hijacked bus burns in the distance in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on April 7. (Peter Morrison/AP)

I first met Martin McGuinness in late January 2017 while I was working as a research professor at Queen’s University Belfast. Earlier that month, McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander turned peacemaker, had resigned as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland. By doing so, he had collapsed the most recent iteration of the power-sharing government established by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the culmination of decades of efforts to find peace in Northern Ireland.

Although he came late to the realization that politics, rather than violence, was the way forward, McGuinness’s contributions to the peace process and to the reestablishment of democratization in Northern Ireland were inarguable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police attend the scene at Cloughfern roundabout, Newtownabbey, as loyalist protesters hijack and burn vehicles on 4 April 2021. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Before scenes of rioting in Belfast started to hit the national news, messages pinged across social media. On Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter calls went out for people to take to the streets. One message said protesters needed to “shut down Northern Ireland” and to “stand up and be counted”.

While it was mainly teenagers who rioted in Belfast, that doesn’t mean the situation wasn’t serious. Eight police officers were injured in the clashes. Businesses were damaged. On 4 April there was further violence in Newtownabbey. Cars were hijacked and burned on the road. The scenes were repeated on Monday night. Local communities have to pick up the pieces.…  Seguir leyendo »

A 'no hard border' poster is pictured on the Irish border in Newry in Northern Ireland. (Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Last Wednesday, an American group that supports Sinn Fein, the Northern Ireland political party associated with the Irish Republican Army, placed half-page ads in The Washington Post, the New York Times, and other newspapers, calling for a referendum on Irish unification.

Such a referendum is not likely very soon. Since the 1920s, the island of Ireland has been divided between what is now the independent Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. Whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom or should unify with the Republic was the principal source of violent conflict from the 1960s to the 1990s, generally known as “The Troubles”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nos acercamos a la fecha ignominiosa, el 31 de diciembre de 2020, sin que haya acuerdo sobre el Brexit, lo que significa una salida a la brava del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea con graves daños para ambas. Conscientes de ello, van a negociar hasta el último minuto para alcanzar, si no un acuerdo, al menos «salvar los muebles», como se conoce en lenguaje diplomático a la teoría de que los daños sean los menos posibles, aunque incluso eso resulta difícil, ya que las diferencias son enormes y las posiciones están enquistadas.

Lo único que hemos alcanzado es a localizar el origen del obstáculo, que no es la pesca en aguas inglesas, sin duda importante para cierto sector de la población, pero no tanto como para bloquear un acuerdo de tal envergadura.…  Seguir leyendo »

British bank notes. (Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News)

The Financial Times reported Monday morning that the United Kingdom government is planning to break its initial withdrawal agreement with the European Union, by introducing new legislation that would undermine parts of the agreement that affect Northern Ireland.

This has had immediate consequences, leading the British pound to fall sharply, and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) to warn that there may be no trade deal between the U.K. and the United States if the U.K. goes ahead with its plan. Yet the long-term consequences may be more profound, making it harder for Britain and the European Union to figure out a new relationship.…  Seguir leyendo »