Theresa, No Deal Project Fear is a cruel insult to our intelligence

The latest Project Fear is a UK government analysis of the impact of No Deal   on the Republic’s trade. It says that 80% of their trade with Europe passes over the British land bridge to ports such as Dover. No deal barriers causing expected congestion there  would have a catastrophic effect on the Irish economy. The aim is to soften up Varadkar’s apparently implacable support for the backstop. Project Fear is accompanied by Project  Puff up and Soothe the DUP, … Read more

Brexit has reversed the stereotypes of Britain and Ireland

Brexit has turned British, Irish and continental stereotypes on their heads,   historian Arthur Aughey has observed in a brilliant essay in the Belfast Telegraph One long-standing explanation is that the British and continental Europeans (especially the French) approach political problems with very different mindsets… On the one hand, Michel Barnier’s style – and the European Council’s – considers British reluctance to define principles as either proof of poor preparation or as inability to clarify its objectives. That, more or less, … Read more

May’s desperate tactics are unworthy and will fail to give her victory

Tactically Theresa May is being astute. But then she has always run Brexit as a party strategy.  Strategically in the national interest, she’s risking a disaster. By continuing to face MPs with a binary choice as late as mid January – My Deal or No Deal – she’s squeezing the time available for any Plan Bs to emerge but she’s raised her immediate chances of staying in office.  This of course assumes the divided cabinet will play along and the … Read more

As Republic’s confidence and supply ends, in 2019 Dail will become a pre war arena

Interesting assessment by Pat Leahy of the extension of the confidence and supply agreement… …the truth is that political considerations certainly played a part in Martin’s decision: he is a politician; he cannot divorce politics from his decision-making. Martin called off a 2019 election not just because he believed it was in the national interest – which is hard to argue against – but because he believed it was in his interest. May was his intended date, I am given … Read more

“As we regress back to the dark days when deep down we knew what was best for unionists…”

Several years ago, I remember chatting with a young Scottish Tory friend, who had spent some time working in sub Sahara Africa about the endless chaos of the Northern Irish Peace Process™️. At the time, she cited Zambia as a case where elected politicians in new democrats sometime prefer, by far, to debate new constitutional arrangements and how they might be set, than doing any representing. So the vacuum at Stormont has created the perfect opportunity for some to obsess … Read more

The Teetotallers Guide to the Need for More Pubs…

Bar pub

It’s odd to think that teetotallers and pub crawlers could have similar objectives but I wish to illustrate that they have similar goals if we consider the drinks trade more holistically rather than narrowly. First of all allow me to say that I understand fine and well the various reasons for being teetotal and I’d even say they are correct, many of us would be better off financially and physically if we abstained from the Devil’s buttermilk. However, reality must … Read more

Air Quality standards breached at Stockman’s Lane, Downpatrick and Dungiven

DAERA has published its 16th annual report on air quality. According to the report a number of pollutants in some areas “continue to exceed air quality objectives”. There were 19 automatic air quality stations that operated for all of 2017 that provided hourly information on a wide range of pollutants. Air Quality Standards (AQS) were breached in relation to Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels: “Three sites exceeded the AQS objective for annual mean NO2 concentration (40 µg/m3). These were as follows: … Read more

This is not a prison, the real prison is where we return to…

Interesting story from Reuters about South Koreans who pay to stay in a mock prison to get a break from the stress of their lives. From the post: Since 2013, the “Prison Inside Me” facility in northeast Hongcheon has hosted more than 2,000 inmates, many of them stressed office workers and students seeking relief from South Korea’s demanding work and academic culture. “I was too busy,” said Park as she sat in a 5-sq-m (54-sq-foot) cell. “I shouldn’t be here right … Read more

Could Blair’s analysis of Brexit offer a realistic way through the mess?

I’ve never been a Blair fan boy nor one of his haters. He left enough mess behind in NI to know not everything he’s done was perfect, but I do think it’s worth listening to his interview on the Today programme yesterday. In it he outlines a course of action that may not have seemed practical a few days ago (although it’s not a million miles from my own suggestion on Nolan earlier in the week). My scenario was predicated … Read more

“I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.” Theresa May in Brussels? Answer. Worse: humiliation

What was Theresa May actually expecting  from the EU 27 leaders in Brussels? There was always the desperate hope for one of those last minute rush to settle against the declared odds. Instead… headlines… Daily Telegraph ( Brexiteer) Theresa May was humiliated once again by EU leaders last night as her attempts to improve her Brexit deal were thrown back in her face. The Sun (Brexiteer) and coiner of  dreadful puns BRUSSELS ROUT  Theresa May told to get stuffed by … Read more

Varadkar appeals to the Commons on Article 50…

Hmmm… A sudden change of tack from Dublin? *** NEW: Taoiseach appeals over head of Government directly to UK Parliament telling me on @skynews “it is within gift of Govt and UK Parliament to take the threat of No Deal off the table… by revoking Article 50 or seeking an extension of A50”. — Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) December 13, 2018

UPDATED: May survives Tory leadership vote by 200 to 117…

She may be safe tonight but the Brexit compromise is still to be resolved in parliament… – Laura Kuenssberg On Nolan this morning I pointed out that if there’s no majority for Mrs May’s agreement with the EU, it’s a dead letter. This is the end of the internal revolution, but unless she can get Labour MPs to put their hands up in large numbers, it’s hard to see it how it progresses with 117 Tories signalling they just don’t want it. … Read more

Micheál Martin: “The contagion of political chaos will not spread here from London…”

So far from the feverish speculation in Westminster today, there was a more minor key play taking place in Leinster House this afternoon in a session called “Dáil Statements on European Council”. Micheal Martin kicked off with a sobering assessment of the implications of the chaos in London, pointing out that “however good the deal is, a deal which will not or cannot be ratified ultimately becomes inoperable and worthless”. Whether or not the deal is ratified, and there is still … Read more

Leading Northern Irish voices join support of ‘Stansted 15’ protestors

“It must be recalled that this is all taking place against the background of an inhumane immigration policy that is acknowledged to be openly hostile.” Leading Northern Irish politicians, human rights groups, academics, journalists and activists have expressed their “deep concern and disagreement” with Monday’s ruling against fifteen human rights activists who “acted to stop a brutal, secretive and barely legal deportation flight” at Stansted airport in March 2017. Known as the ‘Stansted 15’, they have been convicted of ‘endangering an aerodrome’ under the … Read more

What should Theresa May do now? Stop fudging and pledge to stay in the customs union

  Tonight if she wins by whatever margin, Theresa May should declare a victory and press on. No messing with hints that she’ll quit voluntarily in March next year. She needs more than reassurances from the EU that the backstop is dispensable. The huge question is, what can replace it? She should accept the challenge of the core Brexiteers and pledge that the UK will remain the customs union indefinitely. Under the looming shadow of No Deal,  she should go … Read more

No sign of Ireland blinking over the backstop, as Theresa May races around Europe raising the bogey of No Deal

Theresa May  at bay  threw down one effective challenge to  the massed ranks of her critics. “Come clean: do you want Brexit or not? “No”, chorused the SNP and she rolled her eyes. For as long as  Parliament cannot settle on an agreed  alternative she holds a narrow initiative. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed woman is queen. In her whistle -stop tour of continental capitals, her ploy now is to seek  “reassurances”, a time honoured feature of … Read more

Four Pro-Remain parties issue joint statement on the backstop

The following statement was issued by the leaders of Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party.   The four Remain parties, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and Green Party continue to believe that there is no such thing as a good Brexit and our preference is for no Brexit at all. We recognise that the majority of people, businesses and civic society do not want Brexit either. “We have a shared responsibility to protect jobs, economic stability, the environment and … Read more

Keep your eye on the glimmer of light in the Big Picture. But first we need to re-examine the backstop, sooner rather than later.

Although the sight of it is darkly occluded, the shape of things to come is emerging through the fog. Whatever immediate  political strategy  Theresa May chooses today, the dream of the hard line Brexiteers is in process of disintegration.  Whatever the political turmoil today, the UK will retain some sort of close relationship with the EU.   In Northern Ireland, unionists will have a closer relationship with the Republic and with nationalists generally – and I would argue with only slightly … Read more

50 years on: Ulster at the Crossroads address

50 years ago tonight, the then Prime Minister, Captain Terence O’Neill took to the airwaves broadcasting an address on BBC Northern Ireland and UTV at 6pm. The address came as the Unionist government began to loose control of the escalating civil rights marches and he faced greater pressure from the British government to pursue reforms. In tandem with this, he faced growing criticism from senior members of his government such as Bill Craig and Brian Faulkner. Why a broadcast? In … Read more