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Anglo Irish Agreement Protests

Strategically, the agreement showed that the British government recognised as legitimate the Republic`s desire to take an interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland and also showed the Unionists that they could not politically veto British policy against Ulster by their presence in the House of Commons. The deal was rejected by Republicans because it confirmed Northern Ireland`s status as a member of the United Kingdom. The Commissional Irish Republican Army (IRA) continued its violent campaign and did not support the deal. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams denounced the deal: “formal recognition of the division of Ireland. [is] a disaster for the nationalist cause. [it] far outweighs the powerless advisory role that has been assigned to Dublin. [42] On the other hand, the IRA and Sinn Féin claimed that the concessions made by Britain were the result of its armed campaign which gave political recognition to the SDLP. [43] Brian Feeney of the SDLP proposed that the 1986 agreement speed up Sinn Féin`s decision to abandon the abstention of the Republic Oireachtas. [44] “My father really believed that his attitude towards life was generally so negative after the deal,” says Colin, “that he was so demoralized that his immune system made this cancer come back.” He then expressed concern that the agreement threatened Irish neutrality and risked forcing the Republic of Ireland to accept the British presence in Northern Ireland. Former cabinet minister Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone, then chairman of the Greater London Council, also rejected the deal because they believed Britain should withdraw from Northern Ireland. The deal was brokered as a step towards easing long-standing tensions between Britain and Ireland over Northern Ireland, although Northern Ireland unionists (who were in favour of remaining in the UK) themselves strongly opposed their southern neighbour having a say in domestic policy matters. Many political leaders – including Thatcher, who had been strongly committed to British sovereignty in Northern Ireland – had come to the conclusion that a solution to the years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland could only be found through a purely Irish agreement.

Friday 27. September 1991 The Irish Times presented a report on an interview with Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Mr Brooke said Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland were “not useful” in reaching an agreement in Northern Ireland. He also warned that people should not attempt to extend the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Sinn Féin and the IRA Commission were also hostile to the agreement and felt that the agreement recognised and legitimized the State of Northern Ireland. There was a story back when the then UUP MP had a copy of the deal for Upper Bann Harold McCusker and threw it into Molyneaux`s office shouting, “Where is your special relationship now?” His son Colin, now 44, a Craigavon UUP city councillor and a potential candidate in next year`s general election, can`t see this story again, but he`s not surprised….

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