A wonderful word that “differ” .Look at it ; doesn’t it look just a bit odd when you pull it out of context ? Words taken in isolation are wonderfully abstract things to look at , aren’t they? What about the word “agreement” sitting there too?
Agreement ? So what does it mean to you , eh?
Peter Hain, who used to be one of Norneverland’s long list of Secretaries of State ….thinks that in terms of realpolitik the very idea of “agreement” or “an agreement” is really only a bit of craic and isn’t , at bottom, really any kind of contract at all. To him…..he basically said this on the radio today, in relation to the St Andrews Agreement and I’ll suppose that would apply to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement too or any other agreements , come to that,…. that agreements are really only a sort of high-faluting fudge to keep the natives quiet and malleable for short periods of time .They are not actually really binding.You might concur that they are not worth the paper they are written on or even the time wasted ,arguing the agreement out in the first place.That’s the impression that Peter haines left me with, but then I’ve lived long enough to see that politics in Norneverland, Ireland are all but unworkable because the small artificial state was set up in such a way to have inherent instability built into its very fabric.
Look up the word“agreement” in a dictionary and you’ll get a right old list of words to describe what an agreement is.There’ll be stuff like :
“accord”,” concurrence”, “consensus”, “harmony”, “accordance”, “unity”, “unison”, “concord”, “like-mindedness”, “rapport”, “sympathy,” assent”, “acceptance”, “consent”, “acquiescence”, “endorsement”, “confirmation”,”contract”, “compact”, “treaty”, “covenant”, “pact”, “accord”, “deal”, “bargain”, “settlement”, “concordat”, “protocol”, “entente”, “arrangement”, “understanding”, “pledge”,” promise”,” bond”……
Wow!! …..that’s quite a list isn’t it? An agreement has also been called things like :
“a negotiated and typically legally binding arrangement between parties as to a course of action”.
Now …let’s face a few hard facts .Some of those words might mean something to honorable and truthful people who might even have a full grasp of their mental faculties and who might even have a highly developed moral -code.On the other hand , an imbecile or otherwise mentally under-developed person , or one with dishonorable intent ,might not understand what this collection of words means at all, so they may as well be written in Greek, Latin or possibly even Gaelic. In that pre -“Use- Of -Reason” scenario, an agreement may as well be some nonsensical graphitto scribbled on a wall or on a passing train carriage.
In the real world of politics , agreements are the very stuff that allows society to rub along , but in the fantasy land of Norneverland , Ireland , words like “agreement” and its host of synonymns , are what is more likely ,quickly thrown into a bag and tied tightly, never to be opened or used.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)have literally shown no understanding of what an agreement means .They might sign an agreement but they do not actually understand what it is for.Edwin Poots of the DUP said as much yesterday on the radio.He did not want to accept that several clauses in the St Andrews Agreement had not actually been agreed to when the document was signed , even though the Agreement was of a piece .It was whole cloth. What kind of nonsense is this for any astute politician to come out with, live on radio, unless he was sure that his potential supporters did not want to countenance the truth, the sharing of power or even the very idea of politics at all ? It’s hard to believe that any politician would leave himself without a negotiating position , like this, for any future in politics.Where did he expect to go from here?
In this respect, both Edwin Poots and Peter Hain are on the same page.The question that really needs asking is why would anyone want to attempt to negotiate any kind of agreement with people like that when they already know that the end results are null and void already?