Anglo Irish Agreement 1985
On 11, Sep 2021 | In Uncategorized | By Bill
The British House of Commons voted in favour of a request for approval of the agreement by a majority of 426 (473 in favour and 47 against, the largest majority during Thatcher`s term). The majority of the Conservative Party voted in favour (although there were a few Unionist MPs within the party who opposed it), as well as the Labour Party and the Liberal Alliance-SDP. Of Northern Ireland`s main parties, only the Nationalist Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and the Inter-Community Alliance supported the deal. No one could have foreseen, after the “out, out out” press conference in November 1984, that the signing of an Anglo-Irish agreement would be marked if the two prime ministers met a year later for the next summit. The events that led to the evolution of Mrs Thatcher`s thinking can be traced not a year ago, but four years back. The agreement was adopted by Dáil Éireann by 88 votes to 75 and by Seanad Éireann by 37 votes to 16.   Fianna Fáil, the main opposition party in Ireland, also rejected the deal. Fianna Fáil leader Charles Haughey claimed the agreement was contrary to Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution because it formally recognised British jurisdiction in Northern Ireland. It was also rejected by independent Republican TDs Neil Blaney and Tony Gregory, blaney calling the deal a “fraudster`s job.” Despite this opposition, all the other main parties in the Republic supported the agreement and it was ratified by the Oireachtas. On the other side of the political spectrum, the Official Unionists (OUP) continued to take a small lead in popular support over Paisley`s Democratic Unionists. In the May 1985 elections, the former won 30% of the vote and the latter 25%. Paisley, however, is the dominant unionist personality who overshadows the colorless and cautious leader of the Official Unionists, James Molyneaux.
The competition between the two parties leads them to march at the same pace instead of offering rival ideas. The politicians who now control the OUP are hardliners. Fifteen years ago, they fought against the reforms of O`Neill and Chichester-Clark and ran into the wave of popular distrust of Faulkner`s power-sharing experiment. They are reminiscent of the pre-1968 status quo. Unable to restore it, they are also not ready to meet the Catholics halfway. They remember what they themselves did to Faulkner`s plan and fear that new unionist extremists will do the same to them. .