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AN SIONNACH FIONN

In the year 2000, in response to the all-party inter-governmental Belfast Agreement of 1998, a peace deal which effectively ended the decades-old conflict in the north-east of Ireland, the Conservative MP Michael Gove wrote a bitter condemnation of the treaty. In essence he believed that the peace process of the 1990s represented a political and military defeat for the United Kingdom and a strategic victory for Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army. It was, in his view, an acceptance by London of the colonial interpretation of Britain’s presence in Ireland, which he and fellow British unionists (UK nationalists) staunchly rejected. In particular, the right-wing politician saw the Belfast Agreement, and the equality agenda it ushered in, as part of a broader front in a liberal war against conservative values in Britain, one tied to the imposition of a Continental human rights culture on the country. His ire, then as later, was especially focused on the importance of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the European Court of Human Rights

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