Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has confirmed what many observers had suspected: she is unarmed.
Northern Ireland is separated from Britain by the North Channel of the Irish Sea, a conjunction in the name of the country (The United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland), and centuries from the consciousness of the ruling Tory party.
One can imagine that on the Tory map of Britain, Northern Ireland is depicted as the unchartered territory with the old medieval cartographer’s admonition “Here be Dragons.” Into this lair of dragons; an unresolved legacy of conflict; a collapsed devolved power-sharing government; and the prospect of a Brexit threatening a “hard border” and the peace of the Good Friday Agreement, Prime Minister May sent not St. George but Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley.
Karen Bradley had never been to Northern Ireland before being appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and did not know that politics there is split according to whether people want to remain part of the UK or not https://t.co/I3zQ2dECVZ via @PoliticsHome— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) September 7, 2018
Now Bradley has confirmed what many observers had suspected: she is unarmed.
In an interview for The House, a weekly magazine covering Parliament, Britain’s Northern Ireland viceroy admitted, “I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland, people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa. So, the parties fight for the election within their own community ... That’s a very different world from the world I came from.”
Karen Bradley has admitted she doesn't know anything about Northern Ireland. Good job she's not the UK's Northern Ireland secretary. Oh wait https://t.co/nqbFjP0N4H— The Independent (@Independent) September 7, 2018
While one must appreciate and commend Bradley for her candor, one must equally question how Prime Minister May could appoint a Northern Ireland Secretary with so little understanding of the realpolitik of Northern Ireland believing in any hopes of success. How can someone with such a lack of knowledge as regards unionist and nationalist communities have any real chance of restoring a power-sharing government dependent on the cooperation of unionists and nationalist? May’s decision to send Bradley to Northern Ireland makes the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land look downright sensible.
To be fair, Bradley appears to be a good soldier, faithfully following the orders of the Col. Blimps that have brought the world Brexit. The true outrage should be for the lack of acumen and disdain of May in appointing someone, who while perhaps possessing other gifts, loyalty, in particular, is unqualified to fill this critical role at what is the epicenter in a seismic moment in European and Irish history.
I was going to describe Bradley as singularly unqualified, but then I recalled her predecessor James Brokenshire. The repetition of unqualified Northern Ireland Secretaries shows that Bradley’s appointment is not a one-off “bad decision”, but a pervasive indifference to Northern Ireland resulting in a succession of ill-equipped bureaucrats seeking to add “Northern Ireland Secretary” to their CV while adding nothing to the advancement of the community of Northern Ireland.
UUP leader Robin Swann has described today’s meeting with Karen Bradley as “depressing”-— Siobhán Fenton (@SiobhanFenton) September 10, 2018
"The opportunity for a talks process starting now or in the near future is very slim from what we're actually hearing today”https://t.co/MLO2hpOixR
This is the same Tory party that hand-waved pre-Brexit referendum concerns regarding the Good Friday Agreement as alarmist; now finding no way to rectify the Good Friday Agreement with Brexit they have the temerity to suggest that the agreement that has delivered two decades of peace has run its course (without offering any alternative).
Giving Bradley a run for her money as regards lack of knowledge of Northern Ireland is chief Brexit cheerleader Boris Johnson who thinks a re-imposed Brexit border can be managed using strategies employed in London to mitigate traffic congestion; we all remember the bloody border campaign between Camden and Westminster, don’t we? Then we have Rees Morgan, who wants to not only turn back the clock of Europe to Queen Victoria’s England, but to pre-Good Friday border inspections.
The British government is a signatory and guarantor of one of the premier diplomatic success of the 20th Century, the Good Friday Agreement. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this historic agreement is in the guardianship of incompetent or cynically indifferent hands.
Commenting after meeting with British Secretary of State Karen Bradley today, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill said the British Government has no ambition to restore the Assembly and Executive .@moneillsf pic.twitter.com/C0NAj8kZ85— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) September 10, 2018
Add to this that those hands are bound by an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Good Friday Agreement commitment for Britain to govern with “rigorous impartiality” is reduced to absurdity.
To quote Tim Pat Coogan, who himself was paraphrasing Marx, “History in Ireland tends to repeat itself, first as tragedy and then as a tragedy.” If tragedy in Northern Ireland is not to be repeated, it is time to hold the British government accountable.
What are your thoughts on Bradley's comments? Let us know in the comments section, below.