Irlanda del Norte

Lecciones del Acuerdo de Viernes Santo

Hace 21 años que firmamos el Acuerdo de Viernes Santo, junto con dirigentes y activistas de los dos países que gobernábamos, que tanto se habían esforzado para alcanzar la paz. Fue un momento trascendental. Pero aquel histórico 10 de abril de 1998 no fue solo el fin de un proceso, sino el comienzo de otro. La gente de Irlanda del Norte y la República de Irlanda han seguido forjando el acuerdo cada día. Una paz duradera no se construye con unas cuantas firmas sobre el papel, sino con las acciones y relaciones diarias de las personas, las empresas, la sociedad, los políticos y los Gobiernos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police And Forensics Attend Scene After Car Bomb At Londonderry Courthouse

On a Saturday night in mid-January, just days after the House of Commons rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for the first of three times, a car bomb exploded in the center of Northern Ireland’s second-largest city. Footage from a security camera trained on Derry’s Bishop Street courthouse showed a man in a balaclava jogging away from the highjacked van and a group of teenaged revelers strolling past only minutes before the bomb detonated. It was the first such attack in Northern Ireland in three years, and some observers were quick to speculate that it foreshadowed an escalation in violence that a “hard Brexit” could trigger.…  Seguir leyendo »

Street fighting against British soldiers in 1971 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Credit Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

Two weeks ago I was on the outskirts of Derry, a town in Northern Ireland, just a few yards away from the border where Britain ends and the Republic of Ireland begins. Behind a garden wall, a wiry, older man was eager to vent.

“This is Ireland! The English have no business here,” he exclaimed. He pointed down the road toward a small stone bridge. The checkpoint there vanished two decades ago, he said. Should the British try to erect a new guard house, he went on, “we will burn it down.”

Come on, I cajoled him, incredulously. What will really happen if, after Britain leaves the European Union, customs officers or the police might be stationed at what will then be a new border?…  Seguir leyendo »

Crosses for Irish republicans who died in the hunger strike at the Maze prison in Belfast in 1981 are part of a memorial in County Armagh. Rob Stothard for The New York Times.

My friend Sean, like a lot of people in Ireland, tells a good story. He used to work for the National Roads Authority; they couldn’t call it the Irish Roads Authority, he liked to joke, because the abbreviation “I.R.A.” was already taken.

In 2010, Sean organized an event to celebrate the completion of a highway linking Dublin to Belfast, in Northern Ireland. You could now commute between the two capital cities, which had once seemed worlds apart, in under two hours. One of the grandees invited to celebrate on a stretch of road outside Newry in the north was Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army gunman who, like a number of ex-paramilitaries, had reinvented himself as a politician and helped engineer the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the three-decade conflict known as the Troubles in 1998.…  Seguir leyendo »

Film still from No Stone Unturned (2017), directed by Alex Gibney

On August 31, 2018, I was in the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, waiting for my flight to New York, when I received this text on WhatsApp: “Trevor and Barry had their doors kicked in this morning in dawn raids and are presently in police custody for breach of s5 of Official Secrets Act.”

With a few clicks and a hasty review of a police press release from Belfast, Northern Ireland, I was able to grasp the basics. Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, two producers on a documentary film I had directed, No Stone Unturned, had been arrested and held for questioning for the “theft” of classified documents relating to the Loughinisland Massacre, the subject of the film.…  Seguir leyendo »

Northern Ireland is on edge and British politicians should beware

There are times when working as a journalist provides a front-row seat to some of the most important events taking place on Earth. On the downhill slope to Brexit, Derry — also known as Londonderry — certainly fits the bill.

Since the end of The Troubles, Derry has become a vibrant cultural hub. It hosts Europe’s largest and most vibrant Halloween celebration each year, attracting thousands of tourists.

It was designated the UK’s City of Culture in 2013.

But a car bomb last weekend that blasted granite chunks off the street and through windows lifted the curtain on something darker going on in this city on the border with the Republic of Ireland.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian walked last year past a billboard in west Belfast erected by Sinn Féin, calling for a special status for northern Ireland with respect to Brexit. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

If anyone needs tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season, it is the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland. The unique challenges posed by the Irish border vexed more than 18 months of Brexit negotiations and could still scupper a deal. As the end game nears, the peace process is not a price worth paying.

When Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1921, the six northern counties comprising Northern Ireland remained part of the union. Its status has remained contested — with more than 3,600 killed during decades of violence known as the Troubles — between the Protestant and predominantly unionist community, and the Catholic and largely nationalist one.…  Seguir leyendo »

El día del Brexit (29 de marzo de 2019), se hará a la mar el HMS Buccaneer Britannia, para ir en busca de los tesoros de la “anglosfera”. Pero hay un obstáculo: alguien se olvidó de izar el ancla, que sigue clavada en Irlanda.

Era de prever. De todos los políticos conservadores euroescépticos que conozco, ninguno mencionó jamás a Irlanda del Norte, mucho menos al país soberano más al sur. Lo único que tienen los brexiteros en la cabeza es la búsqueda de soberanía parlamentaria y liberación respecto del “superestado” supranacional de Bruselas.

Esta visión miope puede ser simple reflejo de ignorancia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bullet holes marked a sign post at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland last July. Charles Mcquillan/Getty Images

The Democratic Unionist Party, the hard-line Northern Irish Protestant party that essentially has both Prime Minister Theresa May and the Brexit process in a death grip, is not merely stupid or fanatical. The party understands that its fortunes depend on an increasingly threatened British nationalism.

Unionism is dying in Northern Ireland. During the 30-year war, the Protestant majority was mostly loyal, even though Northern Ireland was one of the the poorest parts of the United Kingdom. With a dwindling industrial base, it was subsidized by war, infused with money for an occupying army and giant, garrisoned stations full of police officers.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May will deliver a speech at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. Its contents have been widely leaked. May is set to denounce the “backstop” her government negotiated with the European Union as part of the Brexit agreement. She will say that the proposal would breach the Belfast Agreement that secured peace in Northern Ireland and leave the people of Northern Ireland without any representation in trade negotiations. She will say that “the economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept.…  Seguir leyendo »

On June 5, there were audible gasps in the House of Commons in London. The UK parliament was discussing the anomaly of the realm’s abortion laws: while Britain legalized abortion in 1967, Northern Ireland, though subject to the same parliament, still operates under an extremely restrictive Victorian-era law banning all abortions unless the mother’s life or health is at serious risk. The subject has recently come to the fore because the Republic of Ireland’s landslide vote last month to repeal its constitutional ban on abortion has made the situation in Northern Ireland seem all the more egregious.

Heidi Allen, a Conservative member of parliament for an English constituency, had just given a highly personal and emotional speech in favor of change:

I was ill when I made the incredibly hard decision to have a termination.…  Seguir leyendo »

“El Estado reconoce que con su vida en el hogar, la mujer le brinda al Estado un soporte sin el cual el bien común no puede ser alcanzado. Por lo tanto, el Estado se esforzará por garantizar que las madres no estén obligadas, por necesidad económica, a realizar trabajos los cuales hagan descuidar sus deberes en el hogar.” Esta cuota en la que se destaca que “la vida” y “los deberes” de las mujeres están “en el hogar” proviene de la constitución de Irlanda. Un país occidental, rico, moderno y supuestamente democrático. La lluviosa isla verde tiene en muchos aspectos una de las constituciones más anticuadas del mundo occidental.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard in West Belfast, shown Dec. 8, was erected by the Sinn Fein party and calls for a special status for Northern Ireland with respect to Brexit and no “hard border” in Ireland. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty years ago, the Good Friday Agreement put an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, a 30-year conflict that pit nationalists/republicans (mostly Catholic) fighting for a united Ireland against unionists/loyalists (mostly Protestant) fighting to stay in the United Kingdom. The agreement included numerous signatories: paramilitaries, all but one of the province’s major political parties, and the governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Many parts of the agreement rested on the fact that both the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland belonged to the European Union and, thus, shared a common political and economic framework. The U.K.’s decision to leave the E.U.…  Seguir leyendo »

Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Fein chief negotiator, left, and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams as they participate in the Bloody Sunday anniversary march in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on Feb. 1, 1998. (AP)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the deal that brought an end to a 30-year bloody conflict in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles,” in which more than 3,000 people lost their lives. The agreement created a power-sharing assembly, hoping that would stabilize a divided society.

But for most people in Northern Ireland, the anniversary is cause more for concern than celebration. Right now, Northern Ireland has no functioning executive body. The Nationalists (predominantly Catholics) and the Unionists (predominantly Protestants) who fought during those years still live in separate and segregated communities. As Brexit looms, some fear conflict might return.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian walks past a billboard in west Belfast (AFP/Getty Images)

When Northern Ireland’s nationalists and unionists made peace in 1998, a key part of the deal was a power-sharing arrangement to run Northern Ireland’s government. That collapsed 13 months ago, and five rounds of talks have not been enough to bring it back to life. The latest talks ended Feb. 14, when Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster announced her party’s withdrawal. Here’s how Northern Ireland got into this mess, and here is what could happen next.

Northern Ireland’s government collapsed over corruption scandal and cultural conflict

A decade of power-sharing between the unionist DUP and nationalist Sinn Féin fell apart last January when Sinn Féin pulled out, primarily because of a scandal involving a botched renewable heating scheme.…  Seguir leyendo »

Owen Smith, the shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has a plan. He says that if Northern Ireland is to have a sustained period of unwelcome direct rule, he favours putting marriage equality and abortion to referendums so that Westminster can feel empowered to make change happen.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary is right to want to see progress on both these issues – it is appalling that the people of Northern Ireland do not have the same equal marriage laws or reproductive rights as their fellow citizens in the rest of the United Kingdom. For the avoidance of doubt, our preference would be for the institutions to get back up and running as soon as possible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando un ser querido desaparece sin dejar rastro, el conflicto resultante se llama “pérdida ambigua”: ¿estará muerto o acabará regresando? Cada uno cree con absoluta firmeza una cosa u otra. Nadie lo sabe, no hay certeza, pero los que quedan acaban dándole un sentido ambiguo al misterio. “Para mí está muerto” o “sé que algún día volverá”. La superación no consiste en cerrar el episodio, sino en encontrarle sentido.

Este es el eje sobre el que se sustenta una maravillosa obra de teatro, The Ferryman (El barquero). Escrita por Jez Butterworth y dirigida por Sam Mendes, se representa en el West End de Londres.…  Seguir leyendo »

Just before lunchtime on Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “Tell me why I like Mondays!” He had just gotten off the phone with the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar. Varadkar told Tusk that Ireland was happy with a formula of words the British government had already agreed to: that, after Brexit, there will be “continued regulatory alignment” between both parts of Ireland. Behind this technocratic phrase, there was a great retreat by the British.

They had previously insisted that Northern Ireland is as British as Yorkshire and thus could have no special status after Brexit. The Irish government, with the full support of the European Union, had argued that this would mean the reimposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland and a real danger of undermining the Belfast Agreement of 1998 that ended the Troubles.…  Seguir leyendo »

Simon Coveney, Republic of Ireland minister for foreign affairs and trade, speaks with Jason Naselli about his government’s approach to the border, the Conservative/DUP deal and the ‘Brexit bill’.

What is the Irish government’s preferred solution with regards to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if the UK leaves the EU customs union?

Our preferred solution is that we find a way of maintaining as close to the status quo as possible. We don’t believe we can do that by simply using technology on the border. There needs to be quite a unique political solution agreed between Ireland, the UK and the EU that can allow the free movement of goods and services and people, and the normal environment that has been created in the border area on the island of Ireland, to continue.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the long and tangled history of relations between Britain and Ireland, it has generally been the Irish who seemed troubled. British identity was fixed, solid and self-confident. Britain had, after all, imposed itself on much of the world. Ireland, on the other hand, was anguished, uncertain and divided. Brits could look across the Irish Sea with a mixture of perplexity and patronizing disdain: Why can’t the Irish settle down and stop being so obsessed with those maddening questions of nationality and identity?

So perhaps some of us in Ireland can be allowed a moment of schadenfreude as we look across the same sea and ask a similar question.…  Seguir leyendo »