Sunday 15 November 2015

The Anglo-Irish Agreement - 30 Years On.

Margaret Thatcher

It was 30 years ago today (15th November 1985), the Anglo-Irish agreement was signed which gave Dublin a consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland for the first time in over 60 years. The British Prime Minister at the time Margaret Thatcher considered it a pathway to bringing an end to violence in the province.

Garrett FitzGerald
Signed by Thatcher and Irish Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, it set up a framework for consultation between both governments to discuss matters pertaining to and within Northern Ireland. 

The agreement was bitterly opposed by the Unionists, whose MPs all resigned their seats at Westminster as a protest. It was also rejected by the Republican faction because of its confirmation of Northern Ireland’s continuing status as part of the UK.

In the short-term it failed to bring about a relief to the political violence in the province. However over a period of time it did bring about improvements in relations between the British and Irish governments, becoming a stepping-stone to the Good Friday Agreement 13 years later.

Sunday 1 November 2015

George Bernard Shaw

Shaw in 1936
Monday 2nd November 2015 sees the 65th anniversary of the death of Irish playwright and literary critic, George Bernard Shaw.

Best remembered for Pygmalion (the story of which became the musical My Fair Lady) and Major Barbara, he penned in excess of 60 plays, ranging from purely satirical works to historical allegory pieces. He became arguably, the most important English language playwright since the 17th Century.

Born in Dublin in 1856, he won the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature along with an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Pygmalion) 13 years later. He refused all other offers of awards including that of a Knighthood.

He was also one of the founders of the London School of Economics in 1895 when he and fellow Fabian Society members Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb and Graham Wallas set up the institution for what they considered to be the “betterment of society” (the Fabian Society itself was set up by the Webbs, HG Wells and GBS, being a group promoting non-Marxist evolutionary socialism).

Frontage of Shaw's Corner

He died at the grand age of 94 of renal failure, brought about from injuries received after falling when attempting to prune a tree. 

His home, now called Shaw's Corner in the small village of Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, close to Harpenden and Welwyn Garden City, is now a National Trust property and well worth a visit.