Wigs on the Green
By John Myer
Stormont Back in Business
The political parties leading the Six Counties have broken a three-year long deadlock in the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly. The Assembly, created as part of the Good Friday Accord, has not met for the last three years. The Assembly, which meets at The Parliament Buildings at Stormont Estate in East Belfast, is often referred to as “Stormont.”
An impasse was reached three years ago when the Loyalist parties (DUP & UUP) stopped recognition of Irish as one of the Official languages in the Six Counties, coupled with the “Ash for Cash” scandal involving the DUP. As part of the agreement to reconvene, Irish Language Legislation will now be introduced for adoption.
Losses in the London Parliament elections this past December motivated the DUP to come to the table. A functioning Assembly is critical to manage the implementation and impact of Brexit.
Brexit Set for January 1, 2020
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, with his new mandate from the December, 2019 elections, has successfully put through legislation to formally leave the European Union after January 31, 2020. In practice the UK will still operate under the European Union through the end of 2020, while the details of the ‘divorce’ are negotiated.
While historical for the UK, it is also one of the most significant events to hit Ireland in many generations, apart from the Good Friday Accord. As the UK is Ireland’s largest trading partner, the Irish economy will be hurt and benefitted.
Many financial and service companies currently located in London have been eyeing Dublin or Amsterdam as likely places to move operations to stay within the EU. The Border with the Six Counties is the largest issue; PM Boris Johnson has bent to EU pressure and moved to soften any impact to the artificially created border between the Six Counties and Republic of Ireland.
This has created the likelihood of a customs border in the Irish Sea, much to the fury of the Unionists, who argue they are being treated differently than the other parts of the UK. In effect this will create a more united island of Ireland economy as the Six Counties will still be impacted by EU regulations, aligned with the Republic. This will also lay a firmer foundation for a United Ireland and increased calls for a “Border Poll” (ie a vote on uniting Ireland) provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. 2020 looks to be memorable year for Ireland.
A Nationalist Majority of MP’s
With the election of John Finucane, the son of slain Irish Civil Rights Lawyer Pat Finucane, to the North Belfast MP seat in the December 2019 UK Parliament elections, the Unionist MP’s find themselves in the minority. Finucane, representing Sinn Fein, won the North Belfast seat, long held by DUP Westminster leader, Nigel Dodd.
This seat was held by the DUP since the creation of the Six County statelet a century ago. This tipped the balance to a majority of the 18 seats from the Six Counties in the UK Parliament to Nationalists. A certain milestone for the Six Counties.
2020 will also be a busy year for the Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament). Look for Taoiseach (PM) Leo Varadkar to call a snap election for the 158 members of the Irish Legislative body in February 2020.
Varadkar, leader of the Fine Gael party, was recently forced to cancel a memorial ceremony related to the centennial of the Irish War of Independence, where his Government was going to equally honor the despised “Black and Tans” with those fighting for Irish Independence. Upon immediate and forceful backlash to this tone-deaf action, Fine Gael cancelled the event.
Ohio March Primary
Our friends in Columbus have decided to honor the Feast of St. Patrick by setting the Ohio Primary Election on March 17th, 2020. Irish Americans in Ohio will, thankfully, be able to take advantage of Ohio’s Early Voting. Any Ohio Voter can request to vote by mail prior to the Primary or in person at your County’s Board of Election Offices. Remember February 18th is the deadline to register or change your voting address for the 2020 March Primary. www.Ohiosos.gov