Thursday, July 18, 2019
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Brexit adds to Northern Ireland’s broken politics

The main achievement of the Good Friday Agreement — the creation of power-sharing institutions — is not just unwell, but perhaps terminally ill. Like few places on earth, Northern Ireland lives its history. Stay at the multimillion pound Radisson Blu hotel in downtown Belfast and an Irish tricolor can be seen, stuck in a window of a flat in the “Markets” area — an Irish Catholic ghetto surrounded by Britishness and a derelict patch of grass. Politically, it is more Balkan than British or Irish. It created a land where you could be Irish or British — or both. “Politics here are based on allegiance and identity," wrote the columnist Brian Feeney in the Irish News last week, days before the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry/Londonderry on Thursday night. Look, it’s not going to happen.” The New IRA admitted responsibility for the killing on Monday — albeit with "full and sincere apologies" — a sign of the deadly tensions that are still simmering in Northern Ireland. The backstop, which aims to ensure no border controls are needed, treats Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the U.K., raising unionist fears that it is the start of the slow drift to Irish reunification — and the dominance of Irish nationalists over Ulster unionists. The old leaders who guided the peace process to its conclusion — and may have had the power and authority to save it now — are gone. Northern Ireland is not well. Sign up here.