I see where unionist politicians and ‘commentators’ like Jamie Bryson are critical of the US delegation because they are judged to be one-sided – too green. Gordon Lyons, DUP MLA, told the B(ritish)BC “We’re going to have a particular challenge with Congressman Neal”. Jamie Bryson, it seems, has Richie Neal marked as a supporter of the IRA. “ “We aren’t going to be dictated to by some foreign politician acting as a surrogate for republicanism,” Jamie has parped. If Jamie were to explore the history of Irish-American politicians during the Troubles, he’d realise that he’s just put his foot into his mouth, while adjusting a sign around his neck which reads ‘I know damn all about nothing’.
I recently wrote about this inner blow-torch of fury which ignites among many unionists when words like ‘Irish-American’ or ‘Friends of Ireland’ are mentioned. It springs, I think, from a sense of helplessness. What’s the good in having the Conservative and Unionist Party at your back when the US produces nationalist-inclined (as distinct from IRA-friendly) politicians who make the Tories look like toy soldiers? “I think it’s best whenever there is a difference of view to sit down across the table and negotiate towards a common purpose” was Congressman Dan Kildee’s suggestion. Which, before it got to Gordon or certainly Jamie’s ear would have translated into “Come to dinner – you can eat off a bowl on the floor”.
But no matter how many accusations are flung at the Yanks, one unavoidable fact remains: if the unionists or anyone else mess with the Good Friday Agreement, there will be no trade pact between the US and the UK. That’s not the Yanks telling Jamie and Co what to do, as J Bryson Esq suggests (“We aren’t going to be dictated to by some foreign politician acting as a surrogate for republicanism”). Well no, Jamie. No one is asking you to receive dictation. Just receive explanation that actions have consequences. If all those who voted for Brexit had kept that in mind as they made their mark, the British economy might not be presently plummeting basement-wards, and protocols and Withdrawal Bills might have sounded more like vocabulary drawn from a sex manual and not an Idiots Guide to Self-Destruction.