Irish rights will never be bestowed benevolently by Westminster.
“Yeah?” says you, “are you going to tell me something about Bears’ habits in woods next?”
This week we see a welcome southern focus on the human rights of women living in the north following the referendum to abolish the heinous crime against humanity that was the 8th Amendment.
Indeed, activists in the south are “coming north”. So why do I feel less than overwhelmed? Shouldn’t I be feeling gratitude to our sisters, riding on a tide of victory coming to free us in the north? Coming to insist that Westminster legislate for reproductive rights for all women on the island? Sailing across our still open border, to protest at the one-time bastion of bigotry, City Hall in glorious, hard fought for, equal sunshine for my rights? Shouldn’t I feel a little less “hmmm” and a lot more “yay”? Well, maybe. Maybe I can’t see the wood for the bears, sorry, trees.
Last year after the dramatic Westminster election when Theresa May brought the DUP MPs into her uncomfortable bed there was focus from some British MPs, about the travesty that women in the North have to travel to England if they face a crisis pregnancy, make a choice to have an abortion and have the means to do so. Shock and horror. Shock and horror that the DUP calls itself a pro-life party and means it (well in the case of foetuses anyway). Lots of well-meaning words and columns followed. And all to the good. But it was hardly a shock. But the comrades paid attention last year when the DUP came to sup tea and take their place at the Privy Council table. Fair enough.
This week’s southern interest in the north stems from the activism of feminists in the north, working so hard for the Repeal campaign in the south, and many seeing the obvious truth that six counties in the north remain in a cloak of medieval inequality while there is a parallel platform of rights in the south. Indeed, the invisible border becomes strikingly visible for those interested in civil liberties on this island. But. What created the obvious inequality?
My teeth do grate when the blinkers are put on to the root of the problem. It isn’t just Theresa May being in an uncomfortable bed with the DUP. It isn’t just the DUP having an approach to civil issues to the right of Genghis Khan.
It is the false border that created the two artificial right-wing states that both decided to live out a modern day Dark Ages, seeing as the island had missed out on it the first time round, with its obsession with being a land of saints and scholars and all. In a suitable appropriation – It’s partition, stupid.
So, for those interested in supporting rights north of the border, great to have you on board. Where will we start? Irish language, Equal marriage, Victims and Survivors Rights, Citizenship rights and fertility rights. All available in the south. I believe Irish citizens are best protected by Irish laws made on the island of Ireland.
But notwithstanding that, Westminster knows legislating for one right could well mean legislating for all, and they have a long-term strategic bear in our woods that will resist any of that.