Michael Cohen, the Fixer, was pure political theatre this week. A convicted liar, convicted of lying to Congress, is then called before Congress to give testimony against his former client, the President. A bunch of Congressmen, some lawyers, then try to penetrate attorney-client privilege to get Cohen to say that there was collusion. Cohen kept saying he assumed this and that, but it was all so confusing that all that happened was everyone made their political speeches as they preened for the cameras. I lost interest quickly. Sorry, I just didn’t care that much.
I saw two excellent Irish movies this week. The first, Into The West, was excellent and portrayed Travelers in a good light. You’ll recall that I wrote about Travelers a few weeks ago. The Irish are big believers in magic, you know, fairies, leprechauns and selkies. This movie centers around two young boys who befriend a wild horse. The horsecapades are quite jolly and the boys end up evading the authorities all the way across Ireland as they protect the horse from the lying, cheating equarian top hats. The horse has something about her, well, I won’t spoil the movie, but I rate it 5 stars. Enjoy.
The other excellent movie was The Secret of Roan Inish. This movie centers around a young girl who believes that her little brother, who was washed out to sea years ago in a cradle, is being cared for by seals. Her belief is so strong that she begins to see little Timmy but she can never get close enough to him before he’s back in the sea. The dialog with her grandparents as she learns the ways of the Irish is delightful. Eventually she convinces the family, and with the seals help, little Timmy (still little after all these years) is restored to the family. Another 5 star Irish movie.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time watching Irish movies of late, and many center on The Troubles. The Troubles were generally from the late 1960s to Good Friday, 1998, when an agreement brought hostilities between Northern Ireland and the IRA to an end. In general terms, the conflict arose when the IRA was trying to 1) protect the Catholics in Northern Ireland, and 2) the IRA wanted the British off the Ireland island. Called an irregular war, over 1,800 Irish civilians died, 45,000 were injured and the Brits lost more than a 1,000 military men and women. IRA losses of about 550 people brought the total to about 50,000 injured or killed. The Good Friday Agreement ended the carnage, and it’s hard to believe it’s only been 20 years since this conflict ended.
The current concern is that Brexit may cause this conflict to re-ignite if a hard border is installed between Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom and exiting the EU) and The Republic of Ireland (which remains in the EU). What was interesting is that Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all voted to stay in the EU, but were outvoted by England. So the UK leadership has been sorta boxed in, and agreed in September, 2016, to no hard border (called a “backstop”) between the two Irelands. But now, the Brits are having Brexit problems in implementing the changes it needs to make, and honoring the backstop agreement is problematic. The EU says a deal is a deal, but the Brits are in a mess. There is a lot of technology that can solve a lot of the border crossing problems, but think about it at our southern border. Could we implement a process that let people, goods, trucks, cars, trains to zip virtually unimpeded across the border? It could be done, I guess, at incredible expense. But very unlikely. Right now, there is no “border” to cross between the two countries. No guards, no stops, no nothing except a sign like saying “Welcome to Northern Ireland”. What if there was a “hard border” between us and Florida? Yes, we have truck weigh stations and Florida has an agricultural station for inspections, but the stations are only for big trucks and the wait is pretty minimal. Imagine imposing international inspections on every vehicle? What a mess. And that is why a “no deal” Brexit could have devastating effects in Ireland.
There is another theory, which I like, that a “no deal” Brexit might actually push the two Irelands together. Finally. There was a provision in the 20 year old Good Friday agreement that said if the Secretary of Northern Ireland thinks the majority supports unification, a vote should be called to determine the same. The Northern Ireland voters were 56% remain in the EU. The overall UK vote was 51-49 to exit. So you can see, there is an argument for a vote on unification. However the religious issue remains. Northern Ireland is virtually a dead heat with Catholics and non-Catholic Protestants at about 41% each, yet Northern Ireland is still set up to favor Protestants in political power. That tension remains but a hard border between the two countries could cause those old hostilities to give way to economic interests. Time will tell.