Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this one in its entirety and Twitter is a less-than-perfect medium for something of considerable length. It does, however, give me the chance to make a … Read more

With Brexit fever, lies,lies and damned polls

Lucid Talk have been conducting a curious self selecting exercise in the  Belfast Telegraph and finding that, as Lucid Talk’s Bill White explains, “The poll is currently running at 75% Yes to a border poll, and 70% Yes to a United Ireland, and I don’t need to tell you that common sense, and history, tells us that this is obviously not representative of Northern Ireland. Polling companies like ours are ‘easy’ with these ‘self-selecting’ polls as they’re known – i.e. … Read more

Solving the border issue is recognised as an argument against a clean break with the EU

Although it’s firmly orientated to business and high finance, the Financial Times (£) concludes in an editorial that the British-Irish relationship should  put a brake on the extreme Brexiteers who favour a clean break from the EU. Both sides have much to lose. Without the support of its outsized neighbour, Dublin may now find itself more isolated in Brussels on EU issues such as tax harmonisation, which it opposes. Although Ireland’s economy is less dependent on the UK than it … Read more

Trade & Brexit: Where next?

Among the changes in Prime Minister May’s post-referendum reshuffle David Davis has now been appointed new ‘Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’ or BrexitSec as I’m growing used to calling him. He caused a bit of a stir last Monday when he appeared not to know that the Republic of Ireland was no longer part of the UK. While a quick glance at a map may have told him otherwise I was slightly more surprised at some of … Read more

CBI: Misery Merchants

The CBI is a business membership body that supposedly represents the interests of British (and Northern Irish) business. But you could be forgiven for missing this. During the entire EU Referendum campaign, the local branch of the CBI was unrelenting it its gloom-laden assessments of the outlook for the NI economy should the UK electorate choose to leave the EU. And, despite the fact that a majority of the UK electorate chose to ignore the advice of the CBI (and the … Read more

Some highlights of this years 2016 Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival…

Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival will shortly kick off with this year’s selection of debates, music, discussion, cultural events and comedy to mention some of the key elements within it. It runs from 3rd August – 14th August though the programme gives details of some events outside these dates. Féile began in 1988 as a way of showcasing the positive side of the west of Belfast city and to channel energy into creative expression. That time of the … Read more

Immigration less of a problem, trade and customs more so, as Liam Fox rules out a customs Union with the EU. But Theresa and Enda think they see how to keep the border open

One of the leading authorities on EU affairs Charles Grant, the director of the centre for European Reform has issued  this warning: When it comes to economic ties, the 27 will be much tougher than many Britons expect. European leaders have an interest in ensuring that the EU maintains a close economic relationship with the UK, for everyone’s benefit. But they will not compromise on fundamental principles, such as free movement of labour as the price for single market membership. … Read more

O’Leary’s Dalriada proposal keeps Northern Ireland and Scotland in the UK and the EU

The political scientist Professor Brendan O’Leary is one of the strongest supporters of power sharing in Northern Ireland and an deviser of political solutions to ethnic conflict throughout the world. On leave from Pennsylvania University and an old boy of St Macnissi’s Garron Tower, he has produced the Dalriada Document – inspired by the ancient North Antrim- west of Scotland kingdom. The Dalriada document is an ingenious attempt to square the circle of keeping Scotland and Northern Ireland in both … Read more

‘The omerta since 1998 has ended.’

The post-Brexit period has witnessed a number of pronouncements on all-Ireland matters which have provoked a range of responses, some more deserving of greater scrutiny than others. Whilst Sinn Fein representatives have been a consistent voice calling for an Irish unity referendum, before and after Brexit, references to the context within which such a border poll might be called by other nationalists, north and south, has sparked renewed media interest in the topic. There are a number of good articles … Read more

An immigration breakthrough on Brexit points to a solution to the hard border problem

If it transpires, the Observer’s story on the EU granting the UK an exemption on free movement for EU citizens could be a breakthrough. How could an immigration cap  solve the problem of a hard border? On the face of it, it would make it worse. But if Ireland would join the exemption and agree an immigration cap with the UK based on estimates of the need for EU and non- EU workers, the issue of a hard border disappears. … Read more

Faint hopes only for a second Brexit referendum

Jeremy Corbyn’s challenger Owen Smith (once the smooth and effective special adviser to  Secretary of State Paul Murphy) has offered a second referendum or a general election to ratify any Brexit deal.  What, you hadn’t noticed? His offer has so far been buried in the controversy over the leadership challenge. Let’s see how it plays in the leadership campaign over the summer. Only Dominic Grieve the former Attorney General has surfaced for a second referendum among leading  Conservatives. Adds later … Read more

Corbyn: “I’m calling your Da…” (Honestly)

This just in from Planet Weird… (formerly known as the UK Labour Party)… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

Labour goes for a ride with the “crazy, mad, wild-eyed, big-bottomed anarchists!!”

So 183,541 registered supporters paid their £25 to vote, most of them, for Jeremy Corbin. Owen Smith now sits at 9/2, ie still odds on to lose. And the first estimates are impressive, but confirm Smith is still pushing a heavy boulder up the hill. Apologies I garbled tweet on early sample of 183k. It's 60/40 pro Corbyn/anti Corbyn, not other way round. — Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) July 21, 2016 The high re-admission cost hasn’t deterred dedicated Corbynistas from making sure … Read more

Remain campaign a victim of it’s own left liberal conceits?

A couple of thoughtful pieces to throw into the melee post-referendum. First Tim Harford in today’s FT… Here are four tenets of the trendy centre-left of British politics: first, soaring inequality means that ordinary people haven’t shared in the benefits of economic growth; second, rich people and big companies don’t pay taxes; third, gross domestic product (GDP) is a statistic that misses what really counts; and finally, economists are reliably wrong. It’s really interesting to look at how these tenets … Read more

Brexit will strengthen the Union

Brexit will strengthen the Union, not weaken it. The vast majority of Scottish & Ulster trade is far and away with the rest of the UK. Scottish trade with the EU is down 20% in the last year with the USA being Scotland’s single biggest export country. The Republic of Ireland accounts for only just over 4% of Northern Ireland sales (which is more than Northern Ireland sales to the rest of the EU put together) A report from Barclays … Read more

Calm down, dears…

Wilful or otherwise, there’s been a degree of misrepresentation of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s apparently unscripted, and qualified, comments at the MacGill Summer School yesterday – you can read the official version of his speech here. As the initial reported quote demonstrated, his focus was not on preparing for the prospect of referendums on a united Ireland, but on seeking clarification of what would happen, in the new post-Brexit world, in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote. Because if that possibility were … Read more

Micheál Martin invokes Hume to argue that the centre has, can and must continue to hold…

“Will it be said, when the array of tombs which stretch from end to end of Europe have been multiplied, that there had been plenty of time.., but that the statesmen waited too long and the soldiers took control?” – Eamon De Valera, address to the League of Nations I’ve been away over the weekend so I missed Micheal Martin’s speech at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties. The media generally picked up on his observation that Brexit could make the … Read more