“But what if this is just more terrible negotiating?”

Newton Emerson has clearly been doing some thinking about the future beyond the Hokey Cokey of the last few months. In yesterday’s Irish News column he makes two seminal points about SF’s strategy (or lack of it). Firstly, SF as a good negotiator. It seems to have escaped the notice of the press (but not I suspect of some of their former SpAds), that SF has a tendency to come up empty handed from encounters with the DUP. [What, not … Read more

New powers for Stormont? That’ll get’em going!

James Brokenshire has solemnly warned that if Stormont is to receive new powers as result of Brexit, power sharing must be restored. This blatantly original statement puts him in line for a Nobel Peace Prize or a slot on Pointless. It’s just the sort of threat that will have them rushing to the conference table next Monday. It  puts a small cart before a big horse that is out there somewhere roaming the range. Who cares about powers when what … Read more

Will Spain demand Gibraltar back as part of a Brexit deal?

As I understand it all 27 EU member countries have to agree to any trade deal with the UK. As you can imagine many see this as an opportunity to screw a deal out of the UK. One long-running dispute is Spain wanting their territory of Gibraltar back. The Guardian reports: The EU has put the future of Gibraltar at stake in the coming Brexit negotiations, effectively backing Spain in its centuries-old dispute with the UK over the British overseas territory. After lobbying … Read more

“Price of peace must not be a psychological amnesia about the past, nor a ‘post- truth rewriting of history…”

I recall our 1st year history teacher telling us in the wake of the bombing of the Abercorn Restaurant in March 1972 how one of her friends had lost a leg. We’d had bombs before, most memorably for me at least, McGurks which went down particularly hard with us. That year also saw bombs wreak carnage in Aldershot, in Belfast on Bloody Friday and Claudy. In retrospect, there weren’t that many fatal bombings, but their unprecedented scale of human tragedy … Read more

Equality in Death

https://www.derrynow.com/obituaries/death-notices-wednesday-march-22nd-2017/152099 Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

Special Status for the ROI in the EU?

In my post on whether Northern Ireland could stay in or have “special status” in the EU, I concluded that at the very least Northern Ireland does already have special status because everyone has the option of taking up an EU (Irish) passport. I’m now considering whether Brexit may also result in EU “special status” for the Republic. To be clear, this is a think-piece, not a proposal. I’m ruling out the Republic of Ireland actually leaving the EU, as its economy is … Read more

Brexit has predictably dire effects for Northern Ireland

Forget Theresa May’s boilerplate encomium in the Commons the other day about never being ‘neutral’ about the Union. (Hardly as emphatic as Margaret Thatcher’s claim Northern Ireland was ‘as British as Finchley’). The Prime Minister is leading you up the garden path.  She surely knows by now that Brexit has big implications – dire and far-reaching ones – for Northern Ireland. Here’s eight of them: A funding black hole. All in, Northern Ireland draws down about €600m euro of funding … Read more

Slugger’s video round up of views from around the UK regions and Ireland…

Lots to take in the day after Article 50 was triggered. I’ve been busy trying to roster up videos which contain various viewpoints from within the UK and Ireland. The first being a very useful interview of Theresa May by Andrew Neil: The David Davin Power on maneuvers with the Taoiseach in Malta where Enda Kenny was attending an EPP conference… Then here’s our local guys kicking things around in two separate rounds… The Newsline report from last night has … Read more

Northern Ireland survived the Troubles through those who kept small quotidian bonds of trust…

Newton Emerson says something out loud I’ve been saying quietly to academic friends for a few years now… Most of the effort, study and coverage of the past half century in Northern Ireland has focused on protagonists and their circumstances. The perspective that has really been overlooked is how the vast bulk of the population got through the Troubles by simply ignoring them. Occasionally, it seems that someone is about to allude to this, but then they just make a … Read more

We Are The Legacy: The inheritance of millennials living in the post-McGuinness/Paisley age

I awoke last Tuesday morning to the unexpected news that shocked us all and experienced the odd emotions that accompany comprehending an earthly existence ending. Unsurprisingly what followed was a mixed bag of media commentary and public opinion, that spanned from the praising of a Republican freedom fighter to the condemning of a terrorist warlord. Of course between these extremes was the telling of a life of two halves and the impact that Martin McGuinness made in the establishment of … Read more

Article 50: Will Northern Ireland feature?

There can be little doubt that any of the political theatre surrounding this week’s delivery of Article 50 was intended for a domestic British audience. However  EU Council President Donald Tusk was moved to remark that it was “a sad day”, a sentiment, no doubt with resonance elsewhere, which went beyond his rather dry tweet that “After nine months the UK has delivered” Although it was the first official act given by the British Government to Brussels of withdrawal, it … Read more

Do tell please DUP. What’s this about a “Culture Act”?

It would be good to hear more from the DUP about the “Culture  Act”  Gerry Adams told the Dail yesterday  was “meaningless” He’s not necessarily the best conduit for the proposal.  May we decide for ourselves please DUP?  . Most of his speech was an uncanny repetition of Michelle O’Neill’s latest. From Dail Eireann debates Regrettably, the DUP’s approach throughout the talks was to engage in a minimalist way on all of these key issues. There was no substantive progress on … Read more

Should the other Dublin parties denounce Sinn Fein if they’re gaming the Stormont talks?

The Irish Times political editor Stephens Collins enjoys an unusual dual role of senior political reporter and opinionated commentator. It’s not always clear if he’s getting a bead on emerging trends of opinion in politics or simply speaking for himself.  Perhaps what Stephen thinks today,  many of the guys in Leinster House think tomorrow?  Today, he asks the blunt questions about Sinn Fein’s real intentions towards the Assembly. While most of us were struggling with conflicting feelings, he writes off … Read more

Theresa May’s warm words for Ireland do little to calm Irish fears about the implications of Brexit

A special version for Ireland of Theresa May’s letter to the EU president triggering Art 50 has appeared above her name in the Irish Times. It extends  the same tone of friendly conciliation to Ireland as to the whole of the EU. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies of Ireland and all our friends across the continent. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have … Read more

Revealing interview with Gerry Adams on Stormont talks (includes that ‘complete tube’ comment)…

This is well worth paying attention to. It’s Gerry Adams getting a grilling from an exceptionally well informed Cormac O’hEadhra of RTE on Northern Irish matters (here), the Stormont collapse and the lack of a senior voice for Irish nationalism in Stormont. misrepresents the RHI losses from, at the very worst, a projected £500m over 20 years to £5billion (!!!!) “down the drain”. Given RHI is cited as the reason for SF collapsing the Executive, shouldn’t the President know the … Read more

RTE Prime Time: UK’s invocation of Article 50 puts Ireland in a double bind…

Last night Prime Time on RTE ran this little piece on Brexit and what it might mean for Ireland (ie, the Republic). The found two former Irish diplomats to take opposing views of how it should be played. But in truth Ireland is in a tough place, either way. If the British cannot control the outcomes, it’s even more difficult for the Irish government who although they will be inputting into the EU are only one out of 27. They … Read more

How To Write It: A Brexit Breakup Note

The Prime Minister sits at her desk, which fits awkwardly, not like when she peered over it to banish Osborne. She’s put it off till now, but really, she’s got to write it: her Brexit Breakup Note. Larry, sensing the moment is not good, cowers from the leopard-print shoes with which he’s had his own ill-starred romance. He looks for somewhere to jump, but she banished all the sofas. Jean-Claude, It’s not EU, it’s US: Fine far as it goes, … Read more

Cost of deadlock could translate into a major hike in Northern Ireland’s household rates

It falls to UUP finance spokesperson Steve Aiken to join up the dots some of his political rivals would seemingly prefer not to talk about. As Gareth McKeown reports in today’s Irish News: “Whilst I note the Secretary of State has said he is minded to bring forward legislation to set a regional rate, which would at least provide the finances to enable local councils to carry out their functions, we should be in no doubt that this will represent a … Read more

“Theresa May’s letter looking for a deep and special relationship with the EU…”

Now all the shouting and speculation is over this is the letter from Theresa May. Nothing new or radical, but the tone is measured and conciliatory, but going on her Commons statement she’s gunning for no return to an Irish border of the past (covers a multitude of sins). But she also promised repatriation of powers to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  Donald Tusk for his part has said that this process will be about ‘damage limitation’. That makes me … Read more

Time to stop talking, start doing. Leaving the EU could be a good time to reshape the NI economy.

Jeff Peel has already made the case for welcoming the opportunities that Brexit offers Northern Ireland business. Elsewhere on Slugger, the implications of Brexit and decisions to be made by the Republic have been outlined. Following the decision of the UK electorate on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU, the Government of the United Kingdom has undertaken a great deal of work to prepare the country for triggering Article 50 on 29 March 2017. Not so much our own … Read more