The Irish Times and the Guardian combine to ramp up pressure on May and in support of the “all-island Civic Dialogue”

“At this delicate moment, the Guardian and the Irish Times are collaborating on a week-long series exploring the predicament facing Ireland and the UK.

Kenny told the Irish Times that he would summon all political players to an unprecedented All Island Civic Dialogue on 2 November. “

In support of the Guardian’s announcement the Irish Times has published a gloomy analysis of the effects of Brexit on both countries.

The rough guide is that every 1 per cut in UK growth hits Ireland by 0.3-0.4 per cent. But all sides concede that the many uncertainties of Brexit could lead to more damage.

Growth predictions for the North have been cut. Danske Bank, for example, has cut its growth forecast for this year from 1.6 per cent to 1 per cent and, more significantly, for next year form 1.9 per cent to just 0.5 per cent. The other big threat to the economy in the North is the potential loss of EU subsidies, particularly to the farming sector but also to support investment.


For the island of Ireland, there are three key economic factors here. The first is the exchange rate. The second is the trading arrangements after Brexit – will there be tariffs applied on trade between Britain and Ireland? But the third factor is the most emotive. If a Border is re-erected on the island of Ireland it will be seen as a step back in time to the days of the Troubles – and a massive blow to the economic and social relationship which has built in the meantime.

Foreign minister Charlie Flanagan contributes an op ed  to show how busy the Irish government is over Brexit – but he acknowledges that any special deal has to be negotiated in the context of Euro 27.

Future arrangements between the UK and Ireland, and between the Irish government and the Northern Ireland executive, will have to be placed in the wider framework negotiated between the UK and the 27 other EU members – including Ireland.

The FT has a hot story...

Mrs May has not ruled out making future payments to the EU to secure privileged access to the single market. Finance is among the sectors most likely to benefit in any deal that recognised the “equivalence” of regulatory regimes.

On Friday, she assured Japanese carmaker Nissan that trading conditions for its Sunderland car plant would not change after Brexit, in the first suggestion that the government could pick favoured sectors to shield from the impact of leaving the EU.

Several senior ministers have told the Financial Times that the cabinet is considering how Britain could carry on paying billions of pounds into the EU budget. “We would have to be careful how we explained it,” said one minister. “But Theresa has been very careful not to rule it out.” Another senior Tory said: “With Theresa, you have to listen carefully to the silences.”

..  and the FT is surely right to conclude that Nicola Sturgeon sent mixed messages out from the SNP annual conference

Nicola Sturgeon mixed tough talk on a second Scottish independence referendum with the suggestion she would be willing to put this aside if the UK leaves the EU on terms she finds acceptable.

The paradox  should be noted though, that associated status for Scotland could facilitate rather than hamper a smooth transition to eventual independence. In the short term at least,  the prospect of  a hard border across the Cheviots  would make it more difficult.

The ambiguous message that emerged from Scottish National party conference, which closed this weekend, is partly the result of divisions over how quickly to push for another referendum.

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  • mickfealty

    So massive bung it is then ?

  • Brian Walker

    A smaller bung than at present when the UK is a net contributor to the budget. Who would pick up the tab for associated status is a good question. Would the Republic contribute and would unionists let them?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Has the penny not dropped that we already have hard-negotiated, universally approved structures for “all island civic dialogue” – and any nationalist attempts to by-pass them with some new nationalist-dominated forum are not welcome to unionists?

  • billypilgrim1

    Nationalists keenly desire that unionists will take part in this very necessary conversation. The contributions of unionist participants will be given a respectful hearing, and accorded a significance out of proportion to unionism’s size and relative influence.

    The conversation will only be nationalist-dominated by default if unionists do what they usually do, and chicken out of showing up.

  • mjh

    It’s not just immense political difficulties that stand in the way of a “massive bung”.

    If the sum of money was worth paying in order to stop financial, car-making and other industries moving to the rEU, it would be equally worth Germany, France etc plugging the gap in the EU budget themselves in order to gain those jobs.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    why, Go’ bless you, massa

  • billypilgrim1

    It’s entirely academic to you, I know, but the farmers and businesspeople who actually live here have to weigh their ideology against their bread and butter. They need politicians who are able to act like grown-ups, and who will use every avenue open to them to make their voices heard. I hope their politicians will come up to the mark.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and that’s what the GFA structures are there for

    And I have no issue with a pan-nationalist body, if nationalist politicians want to speak with one voice on the issue. Let’s not confuse that with cross-community politics though, because it isn’t.

  • billypilgrim1

    And if a new, ad hoc forum which would carry far more weight than the GFA structures became available, you would refuse to avail of it, because ideology, right?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    how would it carry more weight?

    And why are you so intent on by-passing the agreement we have?

  • billypilgrim1

    I’m not intent on bypassing anything. I’m keen to exploit every avenue available to us – existing ones, and new ones that are arising. The agricultural, business and academic sectors are too. So is anyone whose livelihood is under threat.

    A new all-Ireland forum would be a powerful player in this drama, even on a Europe-wide scale, and its potential would be multiplied by unionist buy-in. For the first time since the Boyne, Ireland finds itself as a sort of fulcrum in a European crisis. If we speak with one voice, we have the potential to HELP the UK off this petard on which it has hoist itself, or at least to make the petard a little less painful. This is an outcome that’s in everyone’s interests.

  • billypilgrim1

    As previously stated, this will only be a pan-nationalist body by default if unionist politicians fail their people and chicken out of participating.

    Recoil from the spectre of cross-community politics if you wish, but clearly there is are cross-community interests at stake here.

    We’re about to find out if all those stout, reformed Ulstermen really would rather eat grass.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    haha! So you’re advocating nationalists by-passing the agreed cross-community political structures we already work within and presenting unionists wanting to work within those structures as “recoiling from cross-community politics”? Come off it …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    unionists will be addressing these issues too and there is no shortage of avenues for having our views heard already. We don’t need another one, whose main aim seems to be to air the nationalist take on all this. Let nationalists do that, fine, but seeking to work outside the agreed GFA structures is unhelpful and undermining of the GFA. Don’t expect it to be smiled upon by unionists.

  • chrisjones2

    “keenly desire that unionists will take part in this very necessary conversation”

    Yes … the Unionist are happy that the UK Unionist Government deal with it

  • chrisjones2

    Yes…and the farmers for example see the worst case is that we end up in a neutral position having done a deal and the best place is that their major competitors in selling beef pork etc to the UK market face tariffs of 20% to 40% giving them a huge competitive advantage in that vital market

  • chrisjones2

    Why should unionist join a body when the interests of the 2 parts if Ireland are so divergent on economic grounds

  • chrisjones2

    “A new all-Ireland forum would be a powerful player in this drama,”

    Take a deep breath.

    There is no drama – it will be a sullen negotiation process that will end in a deal

    The new all Ireland forum attempts to persuade people form NI to act against their best interests to protect Irish interests. The real economic threat of Brexit is not to NI but to the Republic

  • SeaanUiNeill

    MU, have the British government not bi-passed the guarantee on maintaining the pre-existing status of NI with the result of the referendum? Under the Belfast Agreement the all island structures you refer to could lean upon the joint membership of the EU of the United Kingdom and the RoI to function properly within an atmosphere of joint endeavour. The UK has now taken a path to alter that implicit status with scant regard for the ease of functioning of the Belfast Agreement.

    We are currently in the bizarre situation where after any negotiated exit from the EU by the UK, those living in NI can, under the Agreement, elect to remain personally within the EU by affirming their Irish Citizenship in taking out a passport. This is one of the indications of the rather covert “shared” status of sovereignty here, where in the great rush to generally dilute the rigours of “Westphalian Sovereignty” which has marked the last decades of Globalisation, the Belfast agreement seemingly applied Richard Kearney’s suggestions for a joint sovereignty solution to NI without spelling out any of the details of this clearly just in case it stampeded Unionism. Their cynical lack of clarity here is coming home to roost, and with the RoI guaranteeing jointly with the UK the status of NI, it would be utterly remiss of them not to endeavour to preserve one end of that security for both Unionists and Nationalists which the Belfast agreement attempted to ensure. I know why you may not like the fact, but the RoI has moral obligations to secure the full rights and status of RoI citizens whose home this is, just as much as the UK’s role is to guarantee the status of their citizens here.

  • billypilgrim1

    No, I’m accusing YOU of recoiling from ‘cross-community politics’ (your phrase). Because you quite rightly recognise the danger to your ideology presented by the prevailing bread-and-butter reality.

    Napkins at the ready. We’re having grass for dinner.

  • billypilgrim1

    If the interests of Ireland north and south were divergent, then of course unionism would not join the proposed body. But the interests of Ireland north and south are quite clearly in close alignment.

    Taking the rational view, there’s no doubt what unionism should do – but this has the potential to cut across unionist ideology. Hence the awkward choice unionist politicians now face.

  • billypilgrim1

    In ideological terms they are. In practical terms they are not. For unionism, Brexit means ideology and practicality are now in direct opposition.

    The whole thing is a dreadful clusterfuck.

  • hgreen

    >The real economic threat of Brexit is not to NI but to the Republic<

    You can't seriously believe that. Already the financial services industry is threatening to leave and go to Dublin or Frankfurt. N.I. is now at an even more severe disadvantage when it comes to attracting inward investment.

  • hgreen

    It’s kinda pathetic that you view the future economic success of N.I. in Unionist v Nationalist terms.

    It seems to me it’s the nationalists who are the only ones fighting to ensure the economic success of N.I. not unionists. However considering the abject educational performance of unionist children it’s little wonder their leaders lack ambition for N.I.. Lack of ambition appears to be endemic within the unionist community.

  • NMS

    But would the Irish electorate want their Government wasting their money doing so?

  • chrisjones2

    Theres no divergence between theory and practicality … this context the UK Government speaks for the UK including NI. If we want influence we exercise it via the UK dimsenion

  • chrisjones2

    Wait and see….we have a lot of waffle from commentators , nothing else

    The Republic will soon be a t a huge disadvantage in its tax avoidance / money laundering operations

  • chrisjones2

    Its kinda pathetic that you dont recognise that NIs economic interest and the interest of the Republic may be diametrically opposed in this

  • chrisjones2

    No …we will need the grass for all the extra beef cattle we will be selling to England

  • chrisjones2

    They are not – indeed around 2 weeks ago even Edna said his primary role was to look after Irish Interests (not Northern Ireland ones)

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, that might just need some proper unpacking if it is to make any sense.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Lack of ambition appears to be endemic within the unionist community.”

    It’s a natural consequence of unionism.

    What’s strikingly ironic is how unProtestant is it, though.

  • billypilgrim1

    What if you could exercise greater influence via Dublin than via London – would you be willing to avail of the opportunity, or would you rather be pure n’ poor?

  • chrisjones2

    IF we could but Edna has admitted his priority is to meet the needs of Irish voters.

    I am amazed that the Shinners and the Stoops want to hand their peoples economic future to a leader who has an interest that runs directly against them.

    Its simply stupid politics. For the Shinners its selling our NI for advantage in Ireland. For the Stoops its just lazy thinking

    Make no mistake…the biggest threat in Brexit is to IRELAND not NI and that is what is consuming them

  • chrisjones2

    Then answer the point above on the impact of post Brexit Tariff barriers on Irish food exports to the UK

    I stress i dont want this. I want a free trade deal that leaves us roughly where we are. But if all the masturbatory fantasies of some posters here come true and the EU forces a hard Brexit on WTO rules then Ireland will suffer hugely

    In NI we can help ameliorate that eg by importing raw milk and unfinished product into NI, processing / finishing it here and selling into the UK . This might help Ireland and give us a huge boost locally ….all these options are open to us …carpe diem

  • chrisjones2

    See above on what may happen in Agriculture.

    The Double Irish also sometimes involves the sale of items from Ireland to England within the EU eg software. This allows the Irish company to avoid tax in the UK. If we have WTO Tariffs the exports may still attract duty. It might therefore be better to base the company in NI where there would be no duty and a lower corporation tax rate. It all depends upon the exact terms of the deal

  • chrisjones2

    Good luck in selling that to German voters

  • chrisjones2

    Fine then …watch as your UK Markets evaporate

    Sadly big boys rules apply

  • Oggins


  • Oggins

    MU, on the same thought brexit is working outside the structure of GFA?

  • Oggins

    Chris as usually your abilities to see in the future amazes me. You have a very onesided and simple view of other people’s opinions. If you don’t agree it is either an insult, stereotyping, or resulting in brash big boy statements, with little or no facts…

    Try actually debating in a civilised manner

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Lots of things are. But GFA structures are way we deal with them.

  • billypilgrim1

    “Then answer the point above on the impact of post Brexit Tariff barriers on Irish food exports to the UK”

    What point? It’ll be terrible. There’s no doubt about that.

    You seem to think this will be a boon to NI farmers. Whatever small benefit it might bring, remember – NI farmers derive between 50 and 75% from EU subsidies. In a few years, there won’t be any NI farmers left to benefit from cutting the throats of their southern counterparts.

  • billypilgrim1

    “IF we could but Edna has admitted his priority is to meet the needs of Irish voters.”

    Indeed. But the interests of north and south are in alignment, so that makes Enda an important ally.

  • Oggins

    MU that does not make sense. Your saying we have to abide by GFA, you are saying people should stop looking at other options to help IOI because of the GFA.

    We then have Brexit which rocks the foundations of the GFA, and your saying we have to abide by that?

    I cant understand why unionism wont use all avenues to help all the people in NI.

    Brexit is happening, we all need to accept that, I agree, what I dont agree with is this it will be ok, the UK gov will look after us.

    We have little or no influence on Westminster, and will have to accept what they decide.

    What we can do is use the UK and IOI forum to put pressure, to ensure stability for the whole island.

    The anxiety of unionism baffles me in relation to IOI involvement. It harks back to the old days of its a slippy slope to a UI.
    The confidence displayed by unionism regarding the union, by politicians or posters on this website, seems paper thin when discussions of an island happen.

    If the union is strong, if traditional nationalists are now on the fence over UI, unionism should use this confidence to actual engage in a IOI forum. It would only reinforce the middle ground.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “We then have Brexit which rocks the foundations of the GFA”
    How actually does it rock the foundations of it, when the EU barely gets a mention in the GFA, wasn’t party to it and when none of the contents hinge on EU membership? It does introduce lots of stuff affecting Anglo-Irish relations to be worked through, but the structures of the GFA (the 3 strands etc, the complex power-sharing structures and institutions) stand unaffected on the face of it.

    You have to accept an ad hoc IOI forum is an Irish nationalist thing. No one’s stopping you having it. But like Irish unity itself, all-island structures you just make up yourselves and then try and shepherd us into aren’t going to work. The beauty of the GFA is that it set up structures and institutions all sides agreed on and voted through in NI and the Republic. I am yet to be shown how those structures are not fit for the purpose of making NI and ROI positions on Brexit clear to the government.

    If you’re now proposing some alternative, you need to get the same level of cross-community agreement for it that the GFA structures enjoy, or concede that the alternative is less fit for purpose than the thing it’s trying to by-pass.

    All this smacks of nationalist heart over head and I would urge influential voices in nationalism to dial down the apocalyptic stuff and deal with this more calmly and rationally. It is worrying for future community relations based on mutual respect that political nationalism seems so cavalier about hard-won, precious cross-community political structures that have unionist agreement. Seeking this other forum undermines them.

    It appears at times that political nationalism is running away from reality, into the clouds again. This IOI forum ain’t happening. Now, nationalist leaders, please get real and engage properly.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    all-Ireland solutions again – we expect that from Irish nationalists of course – but it’s no more constructive than me suggesting all-British solutions. Isn’t this exactly why we came up with the intricate frameworks of the GFA to deal with such matters?

  • Katyusha

    But an all-British forum for discussing how to approach the challenges presented by Brexit would be a constructive step – both involving the input of the different nations and regions within the UK, and the Opposition. The way things are going, we are going to have our Brexit negotiating position determined by a small council of Tory party cabinet members, which I suspect will not go down well either with the EU or with Scotland.

    Similar to the Irish situation, we are all facing a common problem of massive proportions, the outcome of which will affect us for at least the next generation. It seems ludicrous not to talk to each other about how to approach it, using all possible channels, existing and new, official and unofficial. I don’t believe for a second that the hard yards of international diplomacy are gained in the meeting rooms of official bodies.

  • Oggins

    Well firstly I don’t need to call out how Brexit has affected the GFA. It’s been discussed here a dozen times. If we can’t agree we will move on.

    The current forums were not set up for this. They do not pull in trade unions, businesses etc. The civic forum is designed to meet twice a year between the northern and southern government.

    Ultimately it is designed to get key stakeholders engaged. The paranoia from Unionism is harking back to the old days. Nobody has given reasons why not, other than Westminster will do it, or the NS council is fine.

    Have you actually read what the civic forum wants to do?! This approach by Unionism declaring nationalism want to use this as a mechanism is mind boggling. I am a nationalist, but I would rather that the key stakeholders, such as business leaders, unions etc have a chance to get their thoughts on the table, to ensure that the NI or ROI economies are ready. National unity is not high on my agenda, i don’t see this as an opportunity to do so. It would be the daftest thing ever to push UI now!

    This won’t happen at a north south council. How the north south council works after A50, is for the council to work out. What the Irish government wants to do is get key players involved.

    The whole approach to the forum is purely economic. Not nationalism, if the leaders of Unionism don’t have the emotional intelligence then we may just shut stormont.

    We have too much to lose not too. Too many businesses that cross the border or are scared. It’s a chance for these voices to be heard.

    If you can’t have the political maturity to see this, then this places is even more dammed

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I don’t need to call out how Brexit has affected the GFA. It’s been discussed here a dozen times”
    It’s been discussed a dozen times without anyone coming up with anything substantive in the GFA that Brexit has “breached”. That you can’t either is noted.

    The forum idea is reinventing the wheel and making it square. Why use this Austin Allegro of a vehicle when we have already built ourselves a Ferrari?

  • Oggins

    Brexit, well the simple fact is with Brexit, no one knows how it affects the border and business. The fact that one government is moving away from the EU and we have yet an idea how to do it. I dont want to get into a discussion can it be done, but my whole point is that the fact Brexit fundamental rocks the foundations, I am not arguing that it cant be done or wont be. If you cant say Brexit has as significant impact, then your looking through rose tinted glasses. The GFA was built on EU foundations such as the human right acts, which looks likely to be withdrawn….

    Again, if you read my post, I clearly call out how the forum wants to bring all groups, not just governmental. All these groups have highlighted concerns on what we do on this island.

    The civic forum is designed to take this all concerns. You have yet to detail me why it would have no benefit?

    Your comparison on the civic forum and n.s council fails to take in the above post.

    I honestly believe subconsciously unionism is scared of the slippy slope to Dublin and dont have the maturity to actual see rhe forum for what it is.

    Not once have they given any decent reasons why it would not add any benefits

  • Kevin Breslin

    There isn’t structures for civic dialogue, just for political representative dialogue. These structures are not going to be politically steered but socially steered.

    After all the DUP were happy enough dealing with Southern Irish state agencies like NAMA when they had a corporate effect on Northern Irish industry, this being something that would be considered nationalist dominated.

    Stormont took away the Civic Forum because the DUP could not even cope with unionist dominated Northern Ireland dialogue, they are happy enough to with the Republic doing their own thing without them.

    We should try to get that back, nothing gets done in Northern Ireland without community engagement anyway.

    Perhaps it’s not some benign degree of Hibernophobia and fears of Irish iridescent actions or even “taking the soup” from Irish soup kitchens, but a chronic problem the Democratic Unionists have with Civic Dialogue forums period.

    Many DUP members have said quite clearly they would like the Republic of Ireland to leave the European Union… go to the people and evangelize it then.

    It’s a poor assumption to assume that the forum will be dominated by people obsessed with Irish republican mantras, rather than those who simply want to ensure their businesses endure a potentially massive culture shift.

    Yes the penny has dropped …

  • Kevin Breslin

    The new all Ireland forum attempts to persuade people form NI to act against their best interests to protect Irish interests. The real economic threat of Brexit is not to NI but to the Republic

    How is Brexit going to be designed to work against the Republic … this Right wing Tory government if they are true libertarian Austrian school believers doesn’t believe in state designer economies.

    As Hayek states

    Yes it’s a silly joke.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Except, MU, that the British, in ratifying the Belfast Agreement, have already recognised that the important issue of re-uinification (for one thing) is an entirely Irish concern without “without external impediment”, meaning British interference. The actual words of the Agreement are that both governments “recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

    This issue of exit from the EU is something profoundly affecting the future re-unification of Ireland very directly, and it is not too much of a stretch to recognise that it is a matter of Irish concern where any “all British” intervention would be entirely inappropriate. And remember that majority of people in the north voted differently to the final decision of the UK as a total.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry …. objections please.

    Unionists have every right to get involved in Strand 2 solutions.

    Clearly the common travel area is known common ground, if the DUP have any other positive suggestions for co-operation they want to put on record then they are more than welcome.

    The DUP backed a risky Brexit strategy, as lead governing party in the administration on one side of the border, they are going to end up doing what Terrence O’Neill had to do, and work with the Republic to sort out how that border is managed in the interim, dispite whatever differences there may well be.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So your solution to boosting Northern Ireland’s economy is pretty much copying what the Republic of Ireland did in a secure climate, but in a much more volatile climate.

    Thumbs up!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But again no substantiation for the claim that Brexit is actually inconsistent with the GFA: “The GFA was built on EU foundations such as the human right acts, which looks likely to be withdrawn …”
    Yet the Human Rights Act comes from the ECHR, which is not an EU thing, it’s independent of that – and Brexit does not involve resiling from the Convention. Is this a “post truth” thing?
    I get that the mood music feels different right now, not denying that, and it’s unwelcome to me too. I’m just saying, over-stating the effects on the GFA isn’t an honest way of proceeding, nor is it constructive. It smacks a little of nationalist opportunism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If people want a united Ireland they can still vote for that though. Brexit makes no difference to that whatsoever.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Is this banging on regardless a nationalist thing? The answer is no. Who do you think you’re persuading? And do you honestly think, having not persuaded people, going on about it helps? Take no for an answer on this all-Ireland forum thing . Had the idea, didn’t take, move on. What are you going to do, force unionists to take part?

  • Oggins

    Ok, fair enough, the law does apply directly from the EU.

    We have the whole hard border soft boarder. We have the cross border bodies and projects that have brought a lot to Ulster (9 counties).

    The enterprise committee for NI identified a billion euro fall and a 3% drop in gdp. If this does not fundamental affect NI, by not having the appropriate mechanisms to protect all irish, be it northern or southern.

    So lets park the above…

    So going back to my whole point and points you refuse to discuss. Why would we not take advantage of the civic forum? What does it do that frightens you?

    Why will you refuse discuss this? Is it because subconsciously it an all ireland forum and anything like that unionism will refuse?

    The mind boggles that unionism will cut its own nose off. The.mind bogglesnit does not have the confidence to enact for the benefit of all of us.

    A civic forum that brings all stakeholders, and you cant see it as it is. The boggie man is around the corner folks.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There will be unionists taking part … Paula Bradshaw an Alliance member is a vocal unionist. I’m sure many other unionists will voluntarily take part to have their say. The McGimpseys did so with the New Ireland Forum.

    Unionism isn’t a hegemony, we’ll see people go against the grain here, it’ll happen with Nationalists in any reverse situation.

    I’m not just concerned about Ireland or the 26 other EU nations, I’m concerned about the negative impact this will have on England, Scotland and Wales … on its science and engineering sector, on its creative industries, on a personal level my cousins in the North East or studying in Dundee.

    So I’d happily attend a DUP or UUP discussion on the effects of Brexit if I had the time and was invited. No problem with getting pan-UK civic dialogues on this topic to come to Belfast either.

    I will also praise the Ulster Unionists who are doing a fantastic job with civic dialogue in Northern Ireland, because as I said before nothing gets done in Northern Ireland without community engagement anyway.

    In Northern Ireland we’re trying to grow our private sector, so that means that businesses who are now working North and South, East and West, Europe and other continents need to discuss what negative things that may be coming out of Westminster, Brussels, possibly Stormont and Leinster House too that could impede that progress.

    It requires the sort of networking that isn’t done at mere ministerial, civil service or implementation body level.

    They are not going to be impressed with overzealous propaganda one way or another than goes against their business experience. Whatever their politics, whatever changes come their way, they’ve gotten where they are by making connections and I’m sure they will be concerned if Brexit makes those connections harder to maintain.

    As someone who’s lucky that a company in Sandy Row met up with a University in Waterford to establish a position that gave me the interview experience to get job elsewhere (sadly I wasn’t qualified enough for that one), I’m happy people crossed borders to form a partnership which was economically beneficial to both parts.

    Confident Unionism should not be afraid of Strand 2 issues, influencing the Republic of Ireland to be more favorable to the United Kingdom or to Northern Ireland, and answering what Terence O’Neill asked them “What type of Northern Ireland do you want.”

    Sometimes the hardest borders we have here exist not in bricks and cement, or with customs checks and migration control, Irish Sea or Black Pig’s Dike, or even peace-walls and segregated housing but among the neurons and glial cells in our own brains.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Dawn Purvis is a Nationalist?
    David Ford is a Nationalist?
    Raymond McCord is a Nationalist?

    Here was me thinking Unionists and the constitutionally agnostic were on these cases.

    Maybe I should be rubbing my hands and shouting from the balconies for an immediate border poll myself!

    Look if the UK show good faith to the Good Friday Agreement and try not to harm it through the backdoor or by the unintended consequences of Brexit, then these legal cases will be simply be a last ditch precaution. It was a hard fought peace process and it shouldn’t be put at risk by London direct rules encroaching here, anymore than it should be by Dublin direct rules.

    If they don’t then I feel these legal cases will be the first of many.

    This could effectively be something of a Reverse Crotty vs. An Taoiseach, where pro-EU politicans keep a non-EU in check, rather than anti-EU politicans keep an EU government in check.

    Crotty vs. An Taoiseach has been a useful safeguard for the Republic of Ireland against measures of the European Union, and has kept them happier inside it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Like me they are Remainers. I would urge them though to accept the vote. Otherwise we’re getting into Donald Trump or SF territory where democratic decisions you like are accepted and all others rejected as some kind of conspiracy. That way madness lies … not good for democracy. But I do think, on the other hand, it can be valuable to get some court input into the legalities of all this. Hopefully we’ll learn something useful from the exercise.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    ‘Refuse to discuss”?? How many comments on this thread now. Come on, it’s all been said, just scroll up.

  • Oggins

    You have not given any valid reason why it would not be an additional benefit. Again, dodge the question.

    How can a civic forum, bringing all stakeholders together to.have a discussion not be value added?

    Can you not answer this?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    undermines existing structures for cross-community politics, which are intricately balanced and inter-connected and which everyone signed up to. I have already said that.

  • Oggins

    How does it undermind? That is just pure unionist paranoia. It does nothing of the sort. It has no power.

    It is civic forum for all stakeholders who will be affected to raise their concerns. These concerns, ideas, solutions can then be taken by the political bodies to the brexit discussions.

    Please come up with something more substantial

  • Kevin Breslin

    This isn’t about accepting the vote, it’s about ensuring that the outcome of the negotiations gets appropriate Westminster and Stormont scrutiny.

    Using Royal Prerogative to change the UK constitution behind closed doors is not good for democracy either, it’s a slippery slope to a German style Enabling Act using one vote to justify continual abuse of that mandate. The Conservatives may not be total fascists, but there is a danger of encouraging a nasty precedence.

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance after all.

    We cannot expect the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement to simply be preserved by those saying well wishing words (fascists say them all the time), when real anxieties exist in our minds we have to take measures.

    Better to be safe than sorry.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    completely agree with most of that, but still don’t see why this new forum has to be the vehicle.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If people don’t want a United Ireland will they be happy with migration controls at ports?

    Will they be happy if their business require soft border with their nearest EU neighbour to have silenced themselves to let politicians who do not necessarily speak who don’t know or care for their affairs for them?

    Will they be happy with imaginary lines drawn up Foyle and Carlingford being policed to say which boats can go one way and which boats can go the other?

    When the migration issue reductionism is ignored, ( a sensationalized issue that is nothing more than a minor inconvenience here) Brexit poses massive real problems to everyone on this island, particularly those in the Literal North of Ireland, by which I mean the 12 most Northerly counties, not merely the six of Northern Ireland.

    Opportunities are like manna in the desert. Perhaps the biggest wasted opportunity is in Irish nationalism, not doing more to make Irish unity more viable alternative to an expensive border. Unionists can equally seize the opportunity as a competing agent to Irish nationalism too.

    Could some of these same companies that are working together on an all-Ireland forum network to actually lower the costliness of having separate heterogeneous trading policies on the one island?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If people promote their own structures instead of working through the agreed GFA ones, it obviously reduces the role of the GFA ones and thus sidelines unionists. If the answer is, ‘Well, you’re welcome in the new structure’, we are obviously going to say, ‘That’s very kind, but we feel more comfortable sticking to what we agreed – we regard that agreement as much more substantial and important than this new forum idea.’

    Further, if rational unionist points are dismissed as “pure unionist paranoia”, it kind of makes my point for me. You can’t be antagonistic towards unionists’ opinions then expect them to be receptive to your great new political initiative. Feels like nationalism has gone back to that bullying stalker behaviour we hoped we had seen the last of, not taking no for an answer. Stick to what we agreed.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why not both? As a social democrat I’m pro-Civil dialogue wherever it takes place. Consider how many of the goals of “Grassroots Out” are going to be stepped on by Eurosceptic elites, simply because they were considered useful idiots to get power rather than part of the nation with specific concerns.

    Of course one big problem with Grassroots Out was that it was an organisation that had few nameable, non-political civic activists or speakers. It had been replaced by a Brugges group led Vote Leave movement that turned the beliefs of the GO movement into their own “post-fact” promises.

    Indeed the Unionist Forum despite all its flaws was a better example of a true political civic forum.

    Politics shouldn’t be so patriarchal, and I fear the Brexit vote has made it so, as it was in Northern Ireland under Paisley and Adams and even Hume to an extent too.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There are other very important things which it does effect. Right of residence for one thing. Wikipedia tells us:

    “Because of the Common Travel Area provisions between Ireland and the United Kingdom, Irish citizens have a de facto right of abode in the United Kingdom. However, with the exception of those Irish persons born before 1949 who have reclaimed British subject status, the entitlement to reside in the United Kingdom is not unconditional, and Irish citizens (who are not also British citizens) are subject to removal and deportation from the UK.”

    The mutual respect and recognition of identity which we have discussed a few times recently would be particularly affected. If, as you have suggested, the status of Irish Passport holders is similar in the north to what it would be if they were living in, say, Yorkshire, then this possibility of arbitrary removal would be on the cards for local people who have elected for an Irish identity, something that might soon actually apply to them if a hard exit from the EU is now envisaged. The Agreement, and many of its assumptions, was of course relying on the ongoing membership of both the RoI and the UK within the EU to fog the understated issue that runs through much of the Agreement of an assumed shared sovereignty. The intention of the Agreement was clearly for to ensure a shared space that might secure both camps against any potential harm or pressure in the event of shifting sovereignties, rather than to formally remove the claim of current citizens of NI to their right of residence here. The exit from the EU is gong to uproot any number of other “givens” within the Agreement, all relying on common EU membership.

    The very assumption of such common Irish interest as the quote assumes is increasingly occulted by the likely terms of an exit. accordingly it is all the more important for any RoI government which takes its responsibilities as guarantor of the Agreement’s terms to affirm most strongly such common interest at this time.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You do realise tariffs will paying the farmers on either side of the border as they have been as part of the EU … so their attitude to tariffs will not be so obvious, but calculated.

    Would Irish farmers oppose EU tariffs and Northern Irish farmers oppose UK tariffs, if the alternative is that it hits them in their pockets?

    Tariffs don’t exist simply to put people off, they are a funding mechanism … something free traders seem to take for granted.

    I think the common external tariff will survive any jingo abuse the UK may throw at it. Real solutions to Real problems always crush Imaginary solutions to Real or Imaginary problems.

    And I will say this as I have before, David Davis held a prejudicial assumption that the UK should quit negotiations, get WTO terms from the EU and stick to them.

    In my opinion that was on the basis of bigotry and nothing else, and he was rightfully reigned in by Thresea May for pulpitting to The Daily Express what it wants to hear, rather than working out the best deal the UK can get.

    Pure WTO terms are pretty much what you automatically get from doing nothing.

    Sounds like an escape plan for David Davis to adopt to get out of doing work, not like an escape plan for the UK to adopt.

    If the UK adopted WTO terms unilaterally, then the Yanks and Canadians would give them a kicking for making NATO military hardware unnecessarily expensive for the sake of personal jingoism, they’ll be equally harsh on German and French jingoism too.

    The UK wouldn’t get off scot-free antagonizing NATO allies for undue and undeserved privilege. (Even if it were scot-free from a second Scottish independence referendum).

    A face saving Nash-equilibrium will be sought that doesn’t lop side to any party.

    Perhaps that is why the UK may be steered towards a Norway or Turkey solution whether they like it or not.

    If that’s true we wont get measily WTO terms between the UK and EU, unless both are content to sit on their arses and watch their economies burn, and America is content enough to see them do it.

    Then again, some would argue they’ve been doing that well enough already.

  • Oggins

    Again, the current structure does not allow or bring other key stakeholders. You really cant accept that the forum is designed to do this.

    The findings can then be tackles by the ns council and the governments.

    You seem to fail to grasp, that it is a forum. Not a governmental body, not a legal function. A forum. How many ways does it need to be said. FORUM

    What you are saying is rational, its not factual. No where has this been identified as this being the new body. There is the difference, this is why it is paranoia

    The paranoia from unionism on anything cross border is evident.

  • Katyusha

    What are you going to do, force unionists to take part?

    Invite them, and if they don’t attend, carry on without them.
    If you don’t attend a meeting, you can’t complain that you had no part in the discussion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s one discussion.

    Even the Unionist forum that unionists set up, had long term plans for liaising with non-Unionists over the flag dispute.

    In a years time, we may be seeing unionists coming to reference the “all-Ireland talking shop” with a good sense of humour.

    That to me would be progress.

    It was after all the seeds of civic bodies like the New Ireland Forum, and the New Ulster Movement, and the Peace People that lead to the restoration in the long run of the Northern Ireland institutions.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Please. The New Ireland Forum was essentially an intra-nationalist talking shop. Perhaps people have forgotten. It was a joke.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s exactly what I’ve been saying nationalists should do, if they feel they need a pan-nationalist position on this. Fine with me.

  • lizmcneill

    Originally May preferred to leave the ECHR rather than the EU.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’ve made yourself clear on that – I get your position. But rather than berating unionists for ‘paranoia’ for not wanting a another cross-border political structure we haven’t agreed to, you could actually work within the ones that are agreed. You’ll find we’re very happy to work co-operatively with the politicians in the Republic in the agreed way. Or is that too easy?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    she did float that as an idea a while back. It’s off the agenda now and I can’t see it happening any time soon. If it were to come up again, I think there may be a legal mechanism for retaining the ECHR for NI (i.e. the UK remains a signatory, but Westminster enacts legislation removing its effect in England and Wales only [Scotland could retain it too]).

  • Oggins

    I want to work with the ns council. I also feel a forum that allows all key stakeholders to get around a table, will help the council. It will give them the information to actually make a difference.

    The fact still remains you cant or wont separate that its a forum, not a political body. You keep holding onto this, when it has been made clear. Where does it say it will be a new or a political body? This is why I refer to paranoia.

    Until unionism actually look at the fourm as it is, it will be seen by unionism parnoia; you cant go into an argument, arguing a different story.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe if you want to take the approach that it failed in its aims for single Irish state unity, federalism or condominium, but you have to remember as a result of this initiative came the Anglo-Irish Agreement, and then followed the Northern Ireland Forum, and then followed the Good Friday Agreement, followed by Saint Andrew’s.

    So cannot deny it was a trigger to that approach to getting people to start talking to one another.

    FG/FF/Lab to the UK governments
    SDLP (and arguably SF too) to everyone else in NI.

    Without the New Ireland Forum, it may’ve been likely that the Hunger Strikers and the IRA Campaign would’ve completely dominated the Irish side of any Northern Ireland dialogue with British officials.

  • Kevin Breslin

    “the Unionist”

    Just one?

    Well I wasn’t expecting unanimity of unionist thinking here, but if it’s just one, I don’t think a unanimous voice is altogether impossible.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think if you were listening to the DUP you would think Irish nationalists were engaging in “pure nationalist paranoia” … when talking about border issues that are likely to emerge.

    The Vote Leave NI pretty much said that a return to a customs border was paranoid nonsense that would never happen. Dido Scotland leaving the UK if Leave won.

    When presented as All benefits, No costs … who wouldn’t vote for it?

    I’ve suggested the UK and EU might take the Wisdom of Solomon approach of a tariff a freight land border, with a marine travel border. Such solutions having been used unilaterally by Dublin and Belfast governments since partition was introduced.

    The DUP seem to be the ones who strangely don’t get that just because their former leader could walk into Clontibret benefits of the Common Travel Area a few years ago, and just because the freedom to move freight already exists, and just because the UK government says nice things about free trade deals … does not mean that the only change in the border will be beefed up security to deal with unwanted Roma gypsies.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So you are predicting English pastoral farming is going to increase with Northern Irish bull?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh come on, do I have to spell it out!

    All Politicans LOVE self-promotion opportunities.

    Even Jim Allister enjoys a visit to Dublin to talk to his Irish neighbours about how great things are up North.

    Probably wants a few tourists coming up North to the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills Distillery!

    I thought the DUP were all about spotting opportunities out of Brexit … Imagine what “opportunities” they could have with this debate.