Getting ready for what?





British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar 
at European Union Headquarters in Brussels, on October 17.

If you want to understand the Irish view of Brexit, it’s best to look at the relationship between Ireland and Britain as a 700-year-long troubled marriage that eventually — thanks to an intensive counseling session supported by the United States and the European Union — led to a historic truce known as the Good Friday Agreement. The peace treaty brought three decades of troubles in Northern Ireland to an end and ushered in a new, healthier relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Then along came Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union — which in just three years of negotiations has led to a proposed deal by the relatively new U.K. prime minister that, if ratified, would go some distance in undermining much of the progress that the Good Friday Agreement had achieved.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s aforementioned deal would avoid the reinstatement of a hard border dividing the six counties of Northern Ireland from the Irish republic — the main sticking point that has held up finalizing the terms of Britain’s departure from Europe. The compromise solution — placing a customs border in the Irish Sea, with Northern Ireland remaining aligned with some European Union regulations while not enjoying the benefits of full membership — opens up a host of complications for the region involving new tariffs, customs checks on goods and so on. But more worryingly, it is likely to further inflame tensions between the unionist community who want to remain part of Britain and the nationalist community who want more than ever to be part of a united Ireland.

Welcome back the troubles? I hope to God not. When I first visited Belfast in 1989 for my brother's wedding, there were British tanks, personnel carriers, barricades, barbed wire, and heavily armed troops everywhere in the City. 

It was like a friggin' war zone - because that's EXACTLY what it was.

The Good Friday Agreement ended all of that. Sorta. 

It's been 20 years since an important moment in the history of Northern Ireland. On 10 April 1998, something called the Good Friday Agreement (or Belfast Agreement) was signed. This agreement helped to bring to an end a period of conflict in the region called the Troubles.

The Troubles was a period when there was a lot of violence between two groups - Republicans and Loyalists. 

Many people were killed in the fighting. But where did this fighting come from in the first place and how did it lead to the Good Friday Agreement?

What were the Troubles?

The conflict in Northern Ireland dates back to when it became separated from the rest of Ireland in the early 1920s. Great Britain had ruled Ireland for hundreds of years, but it split off from British rule - leaving Northern Ireland as part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland as a separate country.

When this happened, the population of Northern Ireland was divided in two:


  • Unionists, who were happy to remain part of the UK - some of them were also called Loyalists (as they were loyal to the British crown)
  • Nationalists, who wanted Northern Ireland to be independent from the UK and join the Republic of Ireland - some of them were also called Republicans (as they wanted Northern Ireland to join the Republic of Ireland)


Unionists were mostly Protestant, and Nationalists were mostly Catholic.


When Northern Ireland became separated, its government was mainly Unionist. There were fewer Catholics than Protestants in Northern Ireland. Catholics were finding it difficult to get homes and jobs, and they protested against this. The Unionist community held their own protests in response.

During the 1960s, the tension between the two sides turned violent, resulting in a period known as the Troubles.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, there was a lot of fighting between armed groups on both sides and many people died in the violence. In order to deal with the conflict, British troops were sent to the area, but they came into conflict with Republican armed groups, the largest of which was the Irish Republican Army (IRA).



The IRA carried out deadly bombings in Britain and Northern Ireland. Armed Loyalists also carried out violence.

How did the agreement come about?

After years of fighting, the 1990s saw a change in the region, as the IRA announced it would stop the bombings and shootings. This gave the Unionists and Nationalists the opportunity to try to sort out their problems. It was not an easy process, and other countries got involved to help the two sides to reach a deal.


In 1998 - after nearly two years of talks and 30 years of conflict - the Good Friday agreement was signed. This resulted in a new government being formed that would see power being shared between Unionists and Nationalists.



This picture shows the Good Friday Agreement being signed by two politicians - the British Prime Minister Tony Blair (on the left) and the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern

What happened after this?

A copy of the agreement was posted to every house in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for people to read, before a referendum was held when they could vote on it.


In May 1998, adults in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement, which made it official - and the Northern Ireland Assembly took their seats in December of that year.



But this didn't completely bring an end to Northern Ireland's problems.

There were allegations of spying and some of the political parties said they couldn't work with each other. Some people opposed to this peace process also continued to be violent.

In 2002, the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended and its decision-making duties were returned to the UK government.

Five years later, the Assembly was given back power and in 2007, the British army officially ended its operations in Northern Ireland.

However, in January 2017, the deal between the main parties in Northern Ireland collapsed - and it has yet to be restored.

The region's political parties still disagree and are locked in a stand-off with each other. Many people hope that a peaceful, power-sharing arrangement can be reached again soon. Although the politicians continue to disagree, there has been no return to the violence once seen in Northern Ireland. 

It is a much more peaceful place and many say that's because of the Good Friday Agreement.

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And now for something 
completely different.

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And now for something else
completely different. 


John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle and Terry Jones.

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Some say that Python may well be one of the funniest, screwiest TV shows of all times to come out of England. See for yourself here:

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I'm a Fawlty Towers kinda guy. 


I don't know why, but the show only lasted one season.
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Top 10 Fawlty Towers Moments on YouTube:

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Here's four great episodes: 


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2 comments:

  1. Fawlty towers was freaking hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have the entire Fawlty Towers box set at home, as well as a few MP movies and a small number
    of Flying Circus episodes. Like all British humor, MP was an aquired taste. You either
    get it or you don't.


    ReplyDelete

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