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Whakaari/White Island: Anatomy of a deadly eruption and the quest to save survivors – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

It was a beautiful day for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But when disaster struck at Whakaari/White Island, some of thepeople who were there didn't come home. Nikki Macdonald examines how the tragedy unfolded.

2.10pm

At 2.10pm the GNS Science webcam at Whakaari/White Island's crater rim snapsan ant-trail of tourists checking out New Zealand's most active volcano. One minute later, the ever-puffingcone, whose Mori name means the dramatic volcano, blowsits top. There are 47 tourists still on the island, but the world doesn't know that yet.

Near the pier wheretour passengers load and unload, a boat is waiting to leave, to return its day-trippers to Whakatne, 50km away.On board is a group who just 20 minutes earlier were in their hard hats and gas masks, doing that same regular loop to the crater's steamy yellow edge,offered as part of the standard 1hour inner-crater tour.

"No, no, no," a passenger cries out, as they watch the mushrooming cloud of white and black smoke and ash surge from the area they've just left. "Ca commence," a French tourist exclaims it's starting. "Go inside, go inside," a frantic voice calls out.

The beautiful silent shroud turns sinister, rolling across the island.At the pier, about 13 people huddle as the toxic tower rises above their heads. Ash-covered tourists run into the sea.

The Volcanic Air tour helicopter parked on the beach is shunted from its helipad, its rotors bent into spidery legs. That's 1.5 tonnes of metal, carried by the force of the explosion. Its four German passengers are down by the beach. Two passengers and the pilot escape serious harm by jumping into the water. The others suffer burns.

Theash cloud soars to more than 3600mfarenough to see fromsatellites.

Six weeks earlier, Stuff reportedthat the island's sulphurdioxide gas and volcanic tremorshad hit their highest levels since 2016,increasingthe possibility of an eruption. On November 18, GNS raised the volcano's alert level from one to two out of five advising that eruptions of steam, gas, mud and rocks could occur "with little or no warning".

GNS vulcanologist Geoff Kilgoursays rocks and minerals had been slowly clogging the geothermal vents, increasing the pressure, like blowing up a balloon. But like a balloon, you can't predict when it might burst.

White Island Tours' websitesays it operates through the various alert levels, but"there isalways a risk of eruptive activity".

At 2.17pm, police are alerted to the disaster.

MICHAEL SCHADE/AP

Tourists who have just left Whakaari watch helplessly from a boat as ash consumes the island.

2.24pm

Tour guides in navy and white striped T-shirts take inflatables from the tour boat to rescue the ash-caked huddle on the pier. At least five rescuees are in critical condition their skin blistered beneath their clothes from severeburns.

University of Auckland vulcanologistProfessor Shane Croninsays the eruptionwould have released a"violent ejection" of hot blocks and ash, and formed'hurricane-like' currents ofwet ash and coarse particles radiating from the explosion vent. That, and a cloud of "pretty much every nasty gas you can think of".

"These can be deadly in terms of causing impact trauma, burns and respiratory problems," Cronin says.

Lillani Hopkins

Geoff and Lillani Hopkins were on the island minutes before the eruption, and helped tend horribly burnt patients on the boat ride back to Whakatne.

The boat crew plead for doctors there are two. Hamilton pastor Geoff Hopkins and his daughter Lillaniare first aiders and also offer to help.

Lillanitriages the patients attaching red, orange or green tags, to show those most at risk of dying. They cut off the victims' clothes, andreplacethem withtheir own to keep themwarm. They're burnt but cold; in shock, drifting in and out of consciousness. They pourwater on the burns. When the water runsout,Lillaniholds a screaming man's hand and sings.

The Hopkinsesare two of few Kiwis on the tour. Those caught in the blast came from all over the world Australia, Britain, Malaysia, the United States, China.Many came from cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which was docked for theday at Tauranga. Later that afternoon, its 4000-odd passengers listenas the captain announcesone of the ship's tour groups hasbeen caught in a volcanic eruption. He reads a list of passengers asked to report in. It's long. Cruisersanxiously checktheir phones.

At 2.30pm, GNS issues a volcanic alert bulletin, raising the alert level to 4, signifying amoderate volcanic eruption.

WHITE ISLAND FLIGHTS/SUPPLIED

Tourism operator White Island Flights captured this image of the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

2.40pm

Before the dust has settled, rescue efforts begin from the air, with Westpac rescue helicopters, two private helicopters and a Volcanic Air tourist helicopter scrambled to help.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later paystribute to the courage of the pilots who selflessly headed into theeruption's aftermath.

One is pilot Mark Law, of Whakatne helicopter company Khu. He's been flying tourists to Whakaari/White Island for years. When he hearsof the eruption, he doesn'thesitate to fire up the rotors of his Squirrel and make the 20-minute flight to the island.

Michael Schade/AP

Crew from tour boats who were waiting to leave sent inflatables back to the island to rescue those caught in the eruption.

His colleague Jason Hill flies their second chopper. Inside the volcano's crater, the dust and gas are swirling, restricting visibility.

On the ground, they can see distressed people. Some sitting, some lying. Several have horrific injuries. They hear emergency services aren't coming, so they start rescuing patients themselves. The dust is so deep it's like running through talcum powder.

Volcanic Air chief pilot Tim Barrow arrives to help.Between them, they load up 12 patients and get them out, to Whakatne Hospital. They're struggling to breathe, and one of Barrow's charges dies on the way.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Mark Law was one of three commercial helicopter pilots who courageously flew to the island immediately after the eruption, to evacuate patients.

On board oneWestpachelicopter is Dr Tony Smith. He's St John's clinical director, but also works half time as an intensive care specialist for Auckland Hospital. They have a permanent rescue helicopter crew, and he happens to be the doctor on call.

When the call comes in around 2.30pm, information is sketchy. All they know is there'sbeen an eruption, with multiple casualties. As they flytoward the volcano, the scale of the disaster becomes clearer from information from the ground, but it also becomes visible from the air.

"Even before we went over the Coromandel Peninsula we could see the plume of smoke. It was clear that something big had happened."

AUCKLAND WESTPAC RESCUE HELICOPTER

St John clinical director Tony Smith (left) and a paramedic are seen on White Island after the eruption.

They circle over the crater, looking for a safe landing, checking for life. They find neither they can see people, but only those who haven't made it.

Safety is never black or white, always grey, Smith says. They put down on the beach, near the pier, where they figure the boats can fish them out if they have to flee to the water. Everything is covered in thick yellow sulphurous ash. Every wind gust or rotor swish kicks up a dust cloud. It's like walking around in fog.

They can smell the sulphur through the respirator masks. It's incredibly irritating within minutes eyes and any exposed skin are sore. There are no more survivors to save so they head out, back to Whakatne, where six critically injured evacuees are waiting at the airfield and wharf.

SUPPLIED

This 1.5 tonne tour helicopter was shunted off its helipad by the force of the eruption.

3.26pm

On Whakatne's coast, police cordon off Muriwai Drive, to give emergency services room and privacy to deal with the injured. Casualties are removed on stretchers, covered in survival blankets, some dressed only in their underwear. Manyhave life-threatening burns.

Whakatne Hospital goes into mass casualty response, handlingmore critical patients in 12 hours than it normally gets in 12 months. Five will not make it, but the country doesn't know that yet.

Patients are placed wherever there'sspace in the Emergency Department, in the wards, even in the operating theatres. They need stabilising. Some have lungs so burntthey need ventilators to breathe. Others need anaesthetic to deal with the pain. Medicssend out for catering packs of Gladwrap, to cover the weeping wounds.

ONE NEWS

Police cordoned off Whakatne's Muritai Drive, to give emergency crew room to receive the injured.

Of the 31 patients, 27 have burns to more than 30 per cent of their bodies the normal entry criterionfor the national burns unit at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital. They need to get out of tiny Whakatne Hospital, but Middlemore can't cope with everyone. Smith helps co-ordinate ambulances, helicopters and aircraft to fly the injured to the country's four burns units, at Hutt Hospital, Christchurch, Waikato and Middlemore, and the two next best options Auckland and Tauranga.

Some patients have burns to more than 50 per cent of their bodies. The skin is red and blistered, with pieces falling off. The deepest burns turn the skin white, thick and leathery. Medics will need 1.2 million square centimetres of donor skin to patch all the scorched bodies.

Looking around Whakatne ED, Smith is blown away by the scale of the task ahead.

Lillani Hopkins

The ash cloud soars to more than 3600m - far enough to see from satellites.

"In terms of numbers of patients with very severe injuries, andsubsequent impact on the healthcare system of New Zealand,this is by far and away the biggest event we have ever experienced. Patients with 50 per cent burns will occupy many many many tens of hours of surgical operating and operating theatre time, many weeks of intensive care. These are complex patients that require a lot of complex therapies to get them to survive."

At 3.30pm, theNational Emergency Management Agency issues a national warning for a moderate volcanic eruption, advising people living near the ashfall to close windows and wear a dust mask.

BROOK SABIN

Tourists have been visiting Whakaari/White Island for more than 30 years. (File photo)

3.45pm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a press conference saying 100 people are believed to have been on the island, and some are unaccounted for. Reports begin to filter to the public, of at least 20 injured, some critical, and possible deaths

At 4.25pm, GNS drops the volcano's alert level back to 3, warning of eruption hazards near the vent. Experts report there "remains significant uncertainty as to future changes but currently, there are no signs of escalation".

4.59pm

Police issue an update, saying only 50 tourists are now believed to have been on the island during the eruption.That's the only good news of the evening.

Just 90 minutes later, the police National Operation Commander, Deputy Commissioner John Tims, stands in the Beehive theatre and announces one of those rescued from the island has died. More deaths are likely, he says.

He doesn't know how many remain on the island, but it could be up to 27. And authorities have decided it's too dangerous for police and emergency services to go back in.

Ross Giblin

National Police Operation Commander, Deputy Commissioner John Tims, was the bearer of continual bad news.

9pm

Police confirm five people have died. Around the world, desperate friends and relatives begin to post missing persons reports on the Red Cross family links website. Theyare parents and children; husbands and wives; young and old.Their nationalities span the globe.

Some are false alarms a 7-year-old Australian boy is later found safe with family in Whakatne. Others are not.

10.20pm

Ardern and Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare arrive in Whakatne and head to Whakatne District Council for a briefing.

Two hours later, just after midnight, police deliver a critical blow to hope: nomoresearchand rescue will be attempted tonight, despite "double digit" numbers left on the island. A police Eagle helicopter, rescue helicopter and defence force planes have donerecces, butseen no sign of life.

TOM LEE/STUFF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives in Whakatne for a briefing on the situation on White Island on Monday night.

TUESDAY, 10 DECEMBER

Even as eight bodies lie unrecovered and unidentified in their ashen graveyard, the questions begin.

Local man Hayden Marshall-Inman is the first victim to be named one of two White Island Tours staff killed. As a tour guide for more than a decade, he knew the risks, his brother says.But he's angry that red tape is preventing them bringing his brother's body home.

"It smells like Pike River all over again.People from Wellington making decisions for people that go on the island daily who knows the island inside out."

FACEBOOK

Hayden Marshall-Inman.

As Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmsup to threeof the five dead may be Australian, another 11 are unaccounted for and 13 have been hospitalised, the scale of the diplomatic disaster begins to crystallise.

The dead and injured come from seven countries two from Britain, four from Germany, 24 from Australia, five from New Zealand, two from China, one from Malaysia and nine from the United States.

Stories begin appearing on international media, of their countrymen and women caught in the tragedy. And with them come the question why were they allowed on an active volcano that was known to begetting jumpier?

Supplied

Newly weds Lauren and Matt Urey were on White Island when it erupted. They were taken to hospital with burns. Their condition is unknown.

American honeymooners Lauren and Matthew Ureywere severely burntin the explosion. Lauren's mother Barbara Barham is livid had her daughter known it was risky, she would never have gone, she says.Lauren's father says allowing tourists on to an active volcano is "absurd".

Tourists have been trekking out to the island for more than 30 years, including through the volcano's most active period, from 1975 to 2001, when small eruptions were frequent. It has claimed lives before in 1914, a lahar killed 10sulphur miners asleep in their beds. The only survivor was a tabby cat.

Ray Cas, Australian professor of geoscience at Melbourne's Monash University, has said White Island was "a disaster waiting to happen".

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Flowers and cards have started to be placed at the cordon site for White Island victims.

Whether tourists should have been there at all is a question that must be asked, Ardern later says. At 5pm, police announce they will be asking it, in addition tohealth and safety watchdog WorkSafe.

But for now the focus is on supporting grieving families, and the heroes who went in to help.One survivor will later die in hospital, on Tuesday night, bringing the death toll to eight.

"All incidents like this affect everybody," Tony Smith says. "You are a human being. It's impossible to go to something like this and not be affected ... This will be an incident which will be forever etched in our memories."

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Whakaari/White Island: Anatomy of a deadly eruption and the quest to save survivors - Stuff.co.nz

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

A Mic Drop on a Theory of Language Evolution – The Atlantic

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

Read: A rare universal pattern in human languages

LDT told people, basically, dont bother to go look for speech abilities in anything other than modern humans, says Thomas Sawallis, one of the authors of the new paper. Those speech abilities could include distinct vowels and consonants, syllables, or even syntaxall of which, according to LDT, should be impossible for any animal without a human vocal tract. There was always this idea, says Greg Hickok, a cognitive-science professor at the University of California at Irvine who was not involved in the study, that there was one thing that had to happen and that released the linguistic abilities. For Noam Chomsky and his followers, that thing was the invention of syntax. For proponents of LDT, it was the reshaping of the human throat.

Part of the reason LDT caught on to begin with is that language evolution, as a field, lacks concrete data. As John Locke, a linguistics professor at Lehman College, put it, Motor control rots when you die. Soft tissues like tongues and nerves and brains generally dont fossilize; DNA sequencing is impossible past a few hundred thousand years; no one has yet found a diary or rap track recorded by a teenage Australopithecus. So the anatomical argument presented by LDT gave researchers something to latch on to. Until the 60s, people who studied language evolution were considered crackpots because they didnt have any data, Locke says. When youve got nothing on the table, a little something goes a long ways.

The researcher generally credited with developing laryngeal descent theory is Philip Lieberman, now a professor at Brown University. He called the new paper just a complete misrepresentation of the entire field, among other things. One of the quantitative models the new study relies on, he says, doesnt properly represent the shape of the larynx, tongue, and other parts we use to talk: It would convert a mailing tube into a human vocal tract. And according to Lieberman, laryngeal descent theory never claimed language was not possible prior to the critical changes in our ancestors throat anatomy. Theyre trying to set up a straw man, he said.

Yet other experts I spoke with told me that setting an upper bound on when speech, and therefore language, could have possibly evolved was exactly the effect that LDT had on anyone studying language evolution. Hickok said that when he was being trained in linguistics, this was an established, almost dogmatic idea. The new study is a dramatic reversal of the status quo, he said: The phrase that came to mind when I finished it was mic drop.

Read: How F sounds might break a fundamental rule of linguistics

Still, he doesnt agree entirely with Sawallis and his co-authors conclusions. Rather than 27 million years, Hickok proposes that the earliest bound on any sort of speech ability would be nearer to human ancestors split with the Pan genus, which includes chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest living relatives. That split happened about 5 million to 7 million years agocertainly longer than 200,000 years, but a far cry from 27 million. Lieberman argues that the precursors of speech might have emerged about a little more than 3 million years ago, when artifacts like jewelry appear in the archaeological record. The idea is that both language and jewelry are intimately related to the evolution of symbolic thinking.

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A Mic Drop on a Theory of Language Evolution - The Atlantic

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans Hate Meredith’s New Love Interest, But Not For the Reason You Think – Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

The world has long been mourning the death of Doctor Derek Shepherd. Okay, maybe just Greys Anatomy fans have been missing the swoon-worthy McDreamy. Either way, a new love interest for Ellen Pompeos Meredith Grey has been a long time coming.

However, fans are disapproving of this seasons potential fling and its been hard to sell them on the Derek Shepherd replacement.

Thinking back to when Derek (Patrick Dempsey) was still alive, their relationship, however fairy tale worthy, still had its share of ups and downs. Lots and lots of ups and downs. The entire series (and their ill-fated relationship) began when Meredith and Derek met at a bar near the hospital where he was an attending doctor and she just starting as an intern.

Unfortunately for Meredith, Derek was already married. Thus began their roller-coaster romance.

Between the drama of simply working together, to Dereks attempts to work things out with his wife, they had a slow start to a successful relationship. Although the two eventually got (post-it note) married and started a family together, his untimely death in season 11 left Meredith heartbroken and on her own again.

There have been some dates and Merediths signature one-night stands since then. For instance, Meredith dated Dr. Will Thorpe in Season 12, soon after Dereks passing. In fact, he was the first guy shed dated since her husbands death. Ultimately, thats why a relationship didnt work out between the two, because Meredith was still too broken. Will seemed like a nice guy and even said he would wait for her. But, that is yet to be seen.

That same season Meredith spent some time with Nathan Riggs, but his fiance, Megan, came back into the picture unexpectedly and Meredith encouraged him to reunite with Megan.

Season 15 brought some changes for Meredith. Most notably, her efforts to get back into the dating scene. At the beginning of the season she went on one blind date with John, played by fan-favorite Josh Radnor.

Unfortunately, he complained about dating desperate single moms and that was then end of that.

But, despite the bad date, this was the start of Merediths quest for new love.

We thought it would just be a diehard loyalty to Derek which would keep fans from embracing Merediths new man. But, thats not the only reason viewers arent supportive of Merediths new relationship with Andrew DeLuca. As season 16 plays out, it will be interesting to see if viewers are able to get behind this budding romance.

Reddit user Crazycatgirl16 points out that writers seem to use new characters to spice up a boring plot line. they pull out the lets introduce a new character card even though we have a big enough cast already.

She laments on a message board dedicated to dissecting the lack of originality in recent episodes of Greys. Other common complaints on the thread include too many surprise pregnancies and an overuse of the love triangle plot line.

Both of these complaints hit home on the Deluca front. Not only was he a new character in the show for Season 15, but he also was one of two men vying for Mers affection. The triangle existed between Meredith, Deluca, and Link. Ultimately, Deluca is the lucky winner of Merediths heart. For now.

Some fans have been turned to the Deluca side, perhaps more will be swayed as the season continues.

Greys Anatomy has been renewed for both Season 16 and 17, well see how long the MerLuca relationship lasts.

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'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Hate Meredith's New Love Interest, But Not For the Reason You Think - Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

How to Shoot the Start of a Relationships End in Marriage Story – The New York Times

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

In Anatomy of a Scene, we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series each Friday. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

The early teasers for Marriage Story were released as two separate vignettes, with each of the lead characters, Charlie and Nicole (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson), discussing what they love about the other.

Those montages play in a more extended form at the beginning of Noah Baumbachs film (now in theaters and streaming on Netflix), creating a way to quickly establish the characters while drawing viewers more intimately into their relationship, just before showing that its about to end.

Narrating the scene, Baumbach discusses the challenges of shooting so many small moments in a relationship and making them feel lived-in. He discusses how the films score, by Randy Newman, aids in that goal, and how he shot a lot of footage to capture just the right amount of emotion.

Read the Marriage Story review.

Sign up for the Movies Update newsletter and get a roundup of reviews, news, Critics Picks and more.

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How to Shoot the Start of a Relationships End in Marriage Story - The New York Times

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

‘He exposed it’: A punter’s flaw, and the anatomy of Diontae Johnson’s touchdown return – The Athletic

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

GLENDALE, Ariz. As the football tumbled toward him from the rafters at State Farm Stadium, Steelers rookie Diontae Johnson stood with his heels at the 15-yard line and thought, This is it. While watching film earlier this week, Johnson saw that Arizona Cardinals punter Andy Lee tended to consistently outkick his coverage. The Steelers planned for it. So, when Lee boomed a punt in the first quarter Sunday, the Steelers were set up to spring Johnson.

The strategy started at the line of scrimmage. The Steelers sent six to try to block Lees punt. That way, even if the rush didnt get home it almost did the Cardinals would need to keep most of their men back to protect Lee, and the pressure would force Lee to kick quickly. The line was instructed to hold its initial blocks for two seconds. Thats all the time Johnson required.

Hell do the rest, linebacker Tyler Matakevich said.

Ten seconds after the snap, Johnson was alone in the open...

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'He exposed it': A punter's flaw, and the anatomy of Diontae Johnson's touchdown return - The Athletic

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Northern Ireland anatomy of a double cross – The Conservative Woman

Posted: December 12, 2019 at 7:48 pm

WE IN Northern Ireland chew the bitter cud of what Boris Johnson, rejecting Theresa Mays Withdrawal Agreement, told the Democratic Unionist Party in the formal circumstances of that partys conference in 2018.

He first thanked conference for allowing him to deliver an absolutely crucial political promise, then declared: We would be damaging the fabric of the Union with regulatory checks down the Irish Sea and even customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland . . . Now, I have to tell you no British Conservative government could or should sign up to anything of the kind.

With no apparent compunction, he went on to sign up for something very much of the kind and so blithely rent the fabric of the Union. We in Northern Ireland rubbed our eyes before the flagrancy of the double cross sank in.

Goods bound for the Republic of Ireland from GB will be liable for tariffs,perhaps up to 60 per cent of all goods, one expert suggests. Professor Alan Winters adds that the deal is likely to lead to Northern Irish firms re-orientating supply chains away from Great Britain in favour of the Republic of Ireland.

The economist Graham Gudgin, while trying to soften the blow for unionists, has admitted that when Northern Ireland businesses need to lobby for changes in regulation, they will need to work with MEPs elected in the Republic of Ireland. The focus of business will thus rotate away from London and towards Dublin.

Yes, there will be a confirmatory vote on the arrangement every four years in the Northern Ireland devolved Assembly, if it ever reassembles. Every four years, in other words, unionists and republicans will be at loggerheads in those capacities, though under the flimsiest guise of economic well-being.

What Prime Minister Johnson has done is open a fresh front for Irish republicans, who will now sleeplessly seek the economic unity of Ireland as separate as possible from the UK economy.

Johnson has wounded Northern Ireland as one of the four home nations. In classic western-movie style, the Tories are leaving us a canteen of water, a wad of chewing tobacco and a rusty rifle, while the rest of the UK heads for yonder ridge and safety. And we all know what happens when they disappear beyond the ridge: war-whoops from the direction from which the fleeing came.

Those whoops have grown clamorous of late. Republicans are emboldened as never before, and have managed to contract the distance between nationalism and republicanism, between a politics that can cohabit with unionism, and a separatist ideology that nullifies unionism. Letters of appeal are regularly sent from northern nationalists to Leo Varadkar pleading the cause of a united Ireland 100 signatories, 200 signatories, 1,000 signatories.

That tongue-tripping phrase, a united Ireland, it is worth remembering, is by definition the amputation of Northern Ireland from the UK. The demand for a border poll grows ever more insistent, so that the constitutional front in this war of attrition is currently deepening.

By contrast with their unionist counterparts,nationalist professors and lecturers are positively baying, lending a juridical veneer to the republican campaign by linking the cause of Northern Ireland sundered from the UK to deprivation of human rights. I asked a leading academic light of this spurious human rights campaign to identify which rights were withheld and from whom, and he failed to adduce a single one connected to a united Ireland.

And as a prong of the same judicial front, there is the battle over the legacy of the Years of Disgrace, known euphemistically as the Troubles. Here, too, republicans have the momentum, determined as they are to seek revenge on the security forces, reconfigure IRA terrorists as victims, and rewrite history, thus making a united Ireland a mere matter of redress for oppression.

And recently the most worrying front since the IRA terror campaign has opened: the demand for an independent Irish Language Act. As a Canadian citizen, I know what lies behind that and what lies before it.

The status of Irish in Northern Ireland, indeed in Ireland, bears no relationship to the status of Welsh or Gaelic in GB. Think Quebec instead, with its ongoing de-Anglicisation, and you will divine where language in the hands of determined nationalists takes us.

I am not suggesting that official bilingualism would give way to unilingualism as it did in Quebec (French-only), but it would be naive to think that Irish would not be used to try to rewrite the present and hibernicise Northern Irish culture to make a united Ireland severed from the UK seem a logical conclusion.

In Northern Ireland anyone anywhere may learn Irish and speak and write it, save in certain legal circumstances. It is a negligible proportion of Irish, north and south, who can understand, let alone speak or write Irish. But it is a formidable weapon in the republican armoury.

I will give Johnson the benefit of the doubt in thinking him ignorant of the synergistic nature of Irish republicanism, though why should he be as a unionist PM? But it is that synergy that gives his betrayal its apocalyptic note. I doubt if his knowledge would make much difference. For what makes unionists despair is the preference the English show for Irish republicans (whose terrorists warred against them for thirty years) over mere loyal citizens with no charm to their loyalty, only bravery and sacrifice in two world wars.

The Brexit negotiators could have stopped Varadkar in his arrogant tracks by threatening to revoke the Common Travel Area. Is there a name for the practice of blackmailing oneself? If there is, it identifies the English refusal even toappearanti-Irish, let alone take some action that might offend the Irish. It is by this English hang-up that we in Northern Ireland are undone, and Johnson has confirmed it once again.

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Northern Ireland anatomy of a double cross - The Conservative Woman

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith


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