Ex-IRA hunger striker McKearney to launch GFA critique in Derry

Tommy McKearney.
Tommy McKearney.

Former IRA hunger striker Tommy McKearney will be in Derry tomorrow for the launch of a fierce new critique of the Good Friday Agreement, which, its authors claim, has perpetuated sectarianism and led to a ‘profound democratic deficit’.

‘The State of Northern Ireland and the Democratic Deficit: Between Sectarianism and Neo-Liberalism’, is co-authored by the veteran Moy republican, alongside Paul Stewart, Gearóid Ó Machail, Patricia Campbell and Brian Garvey. It will be launched in the Rath Mór Centre at 7 p.m.

Mr. Ó Machail, Ms. Campbell and Mr. Stewart - a native of Derry who lived here till he was 10 years old - will also be in attendance.

In a statement the co-authors , who hail from a range of backgrounds in trade unionism, socialist republicanism, academia, healthcare and community development, said they all shared a common interpretation of the northern state as “a failed political entity beyond tinkering and reform”. This is reflected by the guest speakers who have been invited to address a series of launches around the country.

Independent Councillors, Gary Donnelly, and Paul Gallagher, will speak in Derry while the People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll, and the General Secretary of the Community Party of Ireland, Eugene McCartan, will speak at separate events in Belfast and Dublin at the weekend.

“Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, the image projected of Northern Ireland in the mainstream media is frequently that of a newly prosperous, modern, post-conflict society – a rare example of a successful peace process.

“Promoted as a great place to live and work, the garden seemed to be getting rosier by the day, that was, until the collapse of the Stormont Assembly. The bizarre revelations emerging daily from the RHI investigation give the lie to the official portrayal. The state of Northern Ireland is simply not fit for purpose and this book explores its many failings,” the authors state.

The book was written to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the GFA but rather than being a celebration of the accord suggests the recent impasse at Stormont is rooted in the 1998 agreement.

“Current difficulties are more than teething problems arising from the transition from war to peace and neo-liberalism; they’re the first instalment of a deeper crisis in a northern Irish state and society, which has never properly addressed the corrosive nature of sectarianism. Rather than ridding Northern Ireland of sectarianism, neo-liberalism, operating in the absence of armed conflict, has been able to accommodate and, in some instances, create a new form of sectarianism,” write McKearney et al.

“The GFA has led to a profound democratic deficit. This book focuses on the nature of the North’s new sectarian political class who are the principal beneficiaries of the GFA, but attention is also drawn to the labour movement, the plight of precarious and migrant workers, and the undermining of third sector autonomy,” they conclude.