Those predicting the renewal of the Troubles in the wake of a so-called ‘hard’ Border may be guilty of gilding the lily if not outright dissembling, but in one respect they are right: Fleet Street is back in full ‘IRA will kill us in our beds’ mode, as if the GFA never happened, Slab is still directing mayhem from South Armagh, decommissioning was a Tony Blair wet dream and Gerry Adams still bestrides the Army Council like a menacing, poisonous spider.
First prize from this weekend’s selection of ‘Street of Shame’ horrors goes to the man from The Daily Mail, one Nic North, for this piece which conjures up the irresistible image of Provo OAP’s desperately trying to remember exactly where they buried the one Armalite to escape Brian Keenan’s cement mixer – but conceding defeat to Alzheimers:
Second prize to Sean O’Neill of The Times whose imagination surpasses his arithmetical skills. First of all I wonder if there are even 700 officers in all of MI5 but if there are, and they were all sent to Belfast, that would work out, by my estimation, as one spook for every dissident on MI5’s books. That’s just not playing fair:
Third prize goes to Nick Somerlad and Oliver Milne of The Sunday Mirror for this piece which echoes The Daily Mail’s first prize-winning article (see above). That’s a real throwback to the good old days of the Europa Hotel bar, when Fleet Street’s best, usually with a helpful nudge from the amiable fellow from Thiepval Barracks, would combine to file the same story: ‘I mean boss, it must be right. We’ve heard the Mail are running something very similar!’:
Finally, fourth prize to Andrew Gilligan of The Sunday Times. A lifetime’s free subscription to ‘thebrokenelbow.com‘, to any of my readers who can translate the following intro to his piece into clear and lucid English:
‘Republicans are gearing up for violence as a key part of the EU deal threatens to bring about the outcome it was meant to prevent’.
By ‘outcome’, I presume he means a renewal, or something like it, of the IRA’s campaign of violence. Leaving aside the nonsensical idea that the Troubles ever had anything to do with whether the Border was ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, he seems to be saying that Teresa May’s rejection of a ‘soft’ Border and preference for a ‘hard’ one, was meant to placate hard line neo-Provos – which is exactly the opposite of what Leo Varadkar and his colleagues maintain.
On the other hand he may be trying to say that the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) had something to say about the nature of the Border which Europe is now threatening to undermine. If so, he is entirely wrong, not least because the GFA has nothing at all to say about a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Irish Border. Nothing. Not a word.
The ‘soft’, controls-free Irish land Border, was instituted by Europe in 1993, before the IRA ceasefire and before anyone had heard of the Good Friday Agreement, much less Teresa May: