New British Prime Minister frontrunner Michael Gove is strongly opposed to the Irish peace process and believes the SAS and other undercover killers should have been allowed to continue in Ireland and could have defeated the IRA.
Meanwhile, the other main contender, Home Secretary Theresa May believes it is inevitable borders will go back up between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the passage of Brexit. She stated tariffs will be placed on many goods and border controls will be needed as a result.
The election of Gove in particular will cause major problems in the peace process and may result in a new crisis if he still holds those hardline, pro-unionist views.
May made her comments before the vote on a visit to Northern Ireland. According to Tory Party insiders and bookmakers, Gove and May are considered by far the most likely contenders to replace David Cameron.
Gove, currently the Justice Minister, was a key figure behind the Brexit vote.
He believes the IRA could have been defeated and the Good Friday Agreement was a capitulation to them by Tony Blair.
Gove wrote a long summary of his position on Northern Ireland in 2000 in a pamphlet called “Northern Ireland the Price of Peace,” in which he stated the IRA was on the brink of defeat before the peace process took over.
Gove wrote: “...effective intelligence, counter-insurgency and containment (measures) could have progressively reduced the republican military threat. If such a policy had been matched by a political willingness to deny the IRA any purchase on the future constitutional position of Northern Ireland, then the resulting demoralization could have aided the work of the security forces. The prospect of an effective defeat of terror could have existed.”
“But the British Government chose not to take that path. From 1989 onwards restrictions were placed on the operations of the most effective counter-terrorist measures.”
Gove argued that limiting the use of HMSU (Headquarter Mobile Support Unit) and SAS units who operated shoot-to-kill policies, according to later public inquiries, was a disastrous mistake.
“After Loughgall and Drumnakilly, the Government had become cautious, worried about shoot-to-kill accusations. But there were other, more expedient reasons for the changing political climate. The British Government had started making behind-the-scenes moves in an effort to reach an accommodation with the Provisional IRA. In other words, the British State deliberately held its security forces back from inflicting military reverses on the IRA because it preferred to negotiate,” he wrote.
“To consider what might have happened if those restraints had not been placed is to engage in a counterfactual. We cannot know if the IRA could have been defeated. We only know that road was not taken for political reasons, and the decision not to take it came as Margaret Thatcher fell from power.”
Elsewhere in his pamphlet, Gove stated that majority rule by unionists with no nationalist participation was the best alternative.
He concludes: “Therefore, the best guarantee for stability is the assertion by the Westminster Government that it will defend, with all vigor, the right of the democratic majority in Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. Ulster could then be governed with an Assembly elected on the same basis as Wales, and an administration constituted in the same way. Minority rights should be protected by the same legal apparatus which exists across the UK. The legislative framework which has guaranteed the rights and freedoms of Roman Catholics and ethnic minorities in Liverpool and London should apply equally in Belfast and Belleek.”
The country voted for no more politics as usual. No more business as usual. I am the candidate for change. #Gove2016— Michael Gove MP (@Gove2016) July 1, 2016