I’ve some reservations about raising the question of the financial benefits to be derived from the ending of partition in Ireland. Not because I don’t believe they’re there, but because I believe other arguments are stronger, like the right of the Irish people, rather than their next-door neighbour, to decide how Ireland is ruled, regardless of how the sums add up. That’s what happened with German reunification.
But the financial question and Irish partition came up again in Derry last Tuesday. At a meeting looking at the impact of the Good Friday Agreement and looking forward, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson said she was convinced that duplication of services on both sides of the border clearly made no economic sense. But what is needed, she said, is a clear picture of what money the British government gives us and what money we give them in taxes of various kinds, but the British government won’t provide these. If they did, the economic argument could be examined for its validity. Will this happen? I’m beginning to doubt it. Despite repeated requests, the British government won’t release the figures on what the subvention to the north costs Westminster.
This refusal of the British to come clean on the facts of a case is part of a pattern. Ask the Finucane family – they’ve been trying to get the British government to hold a public inquiry into the death of their father, Pat Finucane, but the British government keeps refusing. Mind you, even when you have a public enquiry like Saville into Bloody Sunday, you still don’t get to the root of the matter. Do you really believe that the decision to shoot dead in broad daylight thirteen innocent people, and fatally injure a fourteenth, was taken at the level of colonel? That it doesn’t go higher than that? And then there are the dozens, maybe hundreds of people whose loved ones were killed under circumstances that suggest British collusion. They too face a blank wall when they try to get information from the British government.
Why do the British do it? Why does the British government resist all efforts to get them to come clean on matters that relate to Ireland? Because they can. Because politics is about power and Britain has the greater power in these matters. And you thought right and wrong entered into judgement on these matters? Go away and take a running jump at yourself.