’20 years later and inevitable failure of GFA has come to pass.

02 April, 2018 13:57

With the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) certain questions have to be asked. What have Republicans gained from the unjustifiable compromise? Are we any closer to Éire Nua? What was the rationale for resurrecting an immoral failure from 1973-74 in 1998? Twenty years later and the inevitable failure has come to pass. In the two decades since it has not looked likely, nor does it look likely at the present, that the human rights bill in the GFA will ever be implemented. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not have a human rights bill, it does, by the way, the condemnation would be deafening especially if two decades had passed since it was meant to implement such a bill. Why isn’t the illegitimate six-county state and the GFA being subjected to a chorus of howls of condemnation?

Sinn Féin has made concession after concession without reciprocation from unionists. What was Sinn Féin able to do, within the confines of the GFA, about 4,597 stop and search of republicans in Ardoyne and Oldpark alone between January 2009 and January 2015? This shows that nature of British state policing in the six counties hasn’t changed in over two decades. Given the political and military occupation structures this is unlikely to change in the future. An indictment of Sinn Fein’s, and by extension the GFA’s, failure is that the top-five of the most economically deprived areas in the six counties are nationalist as are nine of the top 10 and 17 of the top 20. For this unforgivable sell-out, Sinn Féin could not even get the implementation of a Gaelic language statute agreed and promised at St Andrew’s in 2006.

Has Gaelic culture flourished since the GFA? Has it flourished in the absence of statutory protection? More people died in Ireland, in a shorter period of time, after the GFA than the entirety of all those who died in the Troubles.

What was the point in ending violence if more of our people were going to die in any case? Ending violence is not an end in itself especially considering a situation resulting in more premature and unnatural deaths. A University of Liverpool study by Professor Jonathan Tonge showed that economic and social conditions in the six-counties were worse in 2009 than they were in 1969. Where is parity of esteem when Remembrance Poppies are ‘commemorative symbols’ yet Easter Lilies are ‘conflict emblems’?

Have community relations improved? Why are there more segregation barriers now than during 1998? Neither Sinn Féin nor the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) have apologised for the damage done to working-class Irish people by their promotion of the Good Friday Agreement.

Right did not become wrong and wrong did not become right on the 10th of April 1998.


I don’t know the author of the above ‘letter to the editor’, but it was a relief to come across it after scrolling through all the ’20th anniversary celebratory’- type colour pieces that are out there, praising the ‘deal’ itself and those said to be responsible for it ie Bertie Ahern, Bill Clinton, Gerry Adams, Tony Blair, John Hume, John Major etc etc, some of whom must have recognised it for the ‘false dawn’ it was – and is – but were more interested in puffing-up/re-building their political ‘careers’ and would have attempted to sell any so-called ‘settlement’ to anyone foolish enough to listen to them. Indeed, such maneuvering was rife in the period leading up to, and after, the vote (it was signed-off on the 10th April 1998 by the politicians involved and put to a vote on the 22nd May that year)

Bertie Ahern, quoted in the ‘Sunday Business Post’ on the 3rd May 1998, page 16, said it means that “Britain is out of the equation”, AP/RN editorialised, on the 10th of September, 1998, on page 9, that the vote was “the will of the electorate in both partitioned states..”, ‘The Sunday Business Post’, on the 13th February 2000, on page 18, said that the Stormont Treaty (‘GFA’) institutions were set up “as a direct result of a vote of all the people of this island..the will of the entire people of Ireland..”, the ‘Ireland on Sunday’ newspaper, on the 28th March 1999, on page 14, said it was “the wish of almost every last man and woman in this country..”.

AP/RN, on the 20th May 1999, on page 9, said it was “endorsed by a huge majority of this country’s people..”, Tim Pat Coogan, in his ‘Ireland On Sunday’ column on the 24th September 2000, on page 32, said that “more than 90 per cent of the people of this island voted for it..”, Niall O Dowd, in his ‘IOS’ column on the 13th February 2000, on page 31, said that it was “the democratic wish of 95 per cent of the population in the Irish Republic and 72 per cent in the North..”, Piet De Pauw, the Belgium lawyer and human-rights expert, said, in December 2000, that “the majority of the people on this island voted for it”, AP/RN, on the 11th March 1999, on page 12, said it “was endorsed by 85 per cent of the people of Ireland..” and Tim Pat Coogan, again – this time in his ‘IOS’ column dated 7th May 2000 (page 34)- said that its institutions “were voted for by an overwhelming majority on this island..”.

In the edition of ‘The Sunday Business Post’ newspaper that was published on the 12th April 1998 – just two days after the Stormont Treaty was signed – the editorial referred to the proposed amendments to Articles 2 and 3 of the Free State Constitution as “well meaning drivel”, saying that the treaty would make us become “the laughing stock of Europe”, and described that treaty as “a rescue operation for unionism”. But, six weeks later – on Sunday, 24th May 1998 – the paper had changed its tune : the editorial in that edition declared that “clearly the vast majority of people on this island are prepared to invest their hope and trust for the future in what is, by any standards, a complex agreement.” A ‘laughing stock’ indeed.

However, an examination of the actual outcome of that vote reveals the true figures, and confirms that the establishment and its supporters will still attempt to purposely distort the facts and mislead those who are foolish enough to simply take them at their word – in this State, the turnout was 56.3% and, of those, 1,442,583 (94.4%) voted ‘YES’ and 85,748 (5.6%) voted ‘NO’. But 43.97% of those entitled to vote in the State did not do so!

In the Six Counties, the turnout was 81% and, of those, 676,966 (71.12%) voted ‘YES’ and 274,879 (28.88%) voted ‘NO’ . But 19% of those entitled to vote in the Six Counties did not do so!

The claims that ‘the majority voted for it’ and that it represents ‘the democratic wish of 95% of the population’ etc etc is a deliberate falsehood put about by those that would attempt to convince the Irish people that the struggle to achieve a just and permanent settlement has been achieved. That finality can only begin when the British give a date for their withdrawal from this country – it has not been a war of almost 850 years only to say to the British that which the Stormont Treaty leads them to believe – ‘stay if you want, just treat us better..’. That was never the republican objective, regardless of how well dressed and presentable those are that travel the globe claiming, in effect, that so-called ‘civil rights’ was the objective all along.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.


To do all this requires an extensive ‘election machine’, set up well in advance of the elections to be contested. Now the Cumann in the area is the natural unit to provide this machinery ; the build-up before polling day is just a gradual increase on the ordinary work of the Cumann, and the doctrines we teach from day to day will be the planks of our election platforms. A Sinn Féin propagandist once said –

“The principal merit in the Sinn Féin policy was that no political reverses could leave it, like a defeated political party, at a dead end. It’s constructive programme gave its adherents something to work at through good fortune and ill, popularity or disdain.” (Next – ‘CIVIL ADMINISTRATION’, from the same source.)


On the 11th April 1878 – 140 years ago on this date – a daughter, Kathleen (pictured) was born, in Limerick, into a well-known and respected republican family, at the head of which sat Edward and Catherine Daly. ‘The man of the house’ worked in the timber business. Her uncle, John Daly, was as well known in republican circles as was her father, and was imprisoned with a man who, despite the fact that he was twenty years older than Kathleen Daly, was to marry her in later years. That man was Tom Clarke , who was born in a British military camp at Hurst Park in the Isle of Wight, on the 11th March 1858. His father was then a Corporal in the British Army but, like Tom’s mother, was Irish born. A year later Corporal Clarke was drafted to South Africa where the family lived until 1865. Tom first saw Ireland about 1870, when his father was appointed a Sergeant of the Ulster Militia and was stationed at Dungannon in County Tyrone.

To cut a long story short, on the 14th of June, 1883, at the ‘Old Bailey’, Tom Clarke was, with three others, sentenced to penal servitude for life. For 15 years and nine months, in the prisons of Chatham and Portland, he endured imprisonment without flinching ; 15 years and nine months of an incessant attempt, by the British, to deprive him of his life or reason. This torture did not cease with daylight and recommence on the following day – it was maintained during the hours of darkness when even the lowest criminal was entitled to sleep and rest. But Tom Clarke and his comrades got neither sleep nor rest – cunning devices for producing continuous disturbing sounds were erected over their cells, and these are described in his book ‘Glimpses of an Irish Felon’s Prison Life’. He was released in 1898, aged 40, and spent a short time in Limerick with his friend John Daly before returning to America where, in 1901, he married Kathleen Daly, John Daly’s daughter : she was 23 years of age, he was 43.

“Great God! Did I ever think I would live to see it, to see men who were the bravest, now fooled that this Treaty means a realisation of our highest ideals..” – Kathleen Clarke (Daly), speaking about the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ – but that was ‘then’, as they say, when she was anti-Treaty, to the point that she had been imprisoned in Dublin Castle, in late 1916, by the British administration for her republican activity, and was entrusted, by her husband, in early 1916, to hold on to £3,100 of IRB funds to relieve distressed republicans, as the man knew he might not survive the Easter Rising but wanted to leave some financial assistance for the families of those who might die with him – within days of his death, she had set up the ‘Irish Volunteer Dependents’ Fund’. She was a judge in the Sinn Féin courts, worked practically full-time on the production of the IRB newspaper, ‘Irish Freedom’, was president of the central branch of Cumann na mBan and was a confidant of the supreme council of the IRB before the Easter Rising, trusted with all available contact details, plans and timing for same, should the known leadership be rounded-up by Westminster.

However, it is known that, after the Treaty, she contacted Michael Collins and told him she would support that Treaty because, she opined, it offered “the machinery to work out to full freedom”, probably the same reason she turned up at the Four Courts in June 1922, after it had been taken back by Liam Mellows and his men from the British-backed Free Staters, and stated to the republicans that what they were doing was “a challenge to Mick Collins and I know Mick well enough that he’ll only accept that challenge until such time as he can get an army together and kick you out of here. Are you going to wait for that..?” but, two years after her plea to republicans not to challenge the Free Staters, she travelled to America on a fundraising tour for republican prisoners but (another ‘but’!), two years after that fundraising tour, she assisted de Valera in establishing the ‘Fianna Fáil’ party and was ensconced in the Free State system either as a ‘TD’, a ‘Senator’ and a ‘Lord Mayor’ for Dublin during the years 1921 to 1927, 1928 to 1936 and 1939 to 1941. She is on record for stating that, in her opinion, Roger Casement “made a fool of himself” by seeking military assistance from the Germans and that he knew nothing about Ireland!

In 1965, she left this country and lived in Liverpool with her son, Emmet, where she died on the 29th September, 1972, aged 94. Leinster House gave her a State funeral, and buried her in Deansgrange Cemetery, in Dublin. As we have said here before – ‘put not your trust in princes’.


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.


Is this the year, oh Lord

When Thou shalt call, and slumbering Ireland wake,

When honour shall return

When night will fade and dawn, at last, will break?

We’ve sinned against Thee, Lord,

Our pitted souls have spurned Thy proferred Grace ;

Betrayed Thy trust in us,

Unworthy, yet we hope to see Thy face.

For we’ve loved Ireland, Lord.

Thus, though we’ve sinned, Thou’ll take each pleading hand

And lead us to abide

Among the host of men who’ve loved our land.

If ’tis the year, Lord, grant

That should we die, we’ll lie among the brave

Unmourned, unsung, perhaps ;

Who cares? But grant us, Lord, a patriot’s grave.

Is this the year, Dear Lord?

The year ‘to come’ when Ireland will be free

Foreseen, when Norman steel

First sent our brave Ambassadors to Thee.

For nigh eight hundred years

They’ve gone to kneel and plead before Thy throne –

But Thou hast heard their pleas,

For Thou art just – We never stood alone.

Thou did but test our worth.

We stood the test – endured – we showed no fear.

Please! Grant now our request,

Say to our hearts “Arise, this is the year!”

(Next – ‘SINN FÉIN NOTES’, from the same source).



By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.

Many a laugh we’ve had since recounting those ‘football matches’ and, I have to say, of all the cultural activities we engaged in (not counting the Language), it would be nearly impossible to pick between the inter-Cage Gaelic matches and the Irish dancing classes to find out which of them would constitute the more unacceptable face of Irish culture in Long Kesh.

Even though I can still see big Clint Loughran attempting his ‘Sevens’, I would still pick the ‘football’. As the inter-Cage football matches take their place in contemporary republican folklore, one of the legacies of those Gaelic matches that has stayed with me all these years is – and I don’t know whether it’s an unconscious thing or not – but every time I walk pass Bloggs Long in the street, I instinctively duck!

Finally, I want to say that Ardoyne men are universally well known for their fantastic sense of humour and, by their nature, are very forgiving… (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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