South Belfast: Crowded Left Field could tempt Unionism for a pact?

South Belfast is set to be one of the most competitive races in Northern Ireland for the upcoming General Election. Unlike the other 17 constituencies, four parties are running in this seat who are within a few percentage points of each other. On The View, Gareth Gordon put out a useful report on how the constituency has changed over the past few decades. What used to be a straight, UUP-SDLP battle for the seat, now has four parties seriously eyeing … Read more

How the Irish government pulled off a Brexit coup

Denis Staunton has an excellent piece in the Irish Times about how Enda Kenny achieved so much success, so quickly with the Brexit negotiations. Whilst some were waxing lyrical about Spain’s aggressive stance over Gibraltar, Ireland pretty much went back to basics, quietly in the background working with officials and quietly pushed forward its agenda. The prominence of Ireland’s issues in the EU’s guidelines, including a statement guaranteeing that Northern Ireland could automatically rejoin the EU as part of a united … Read more

European Council guidelines argue “flexible and imaginative solutions will be required”

The European Council have published their guidelines for the Brexit negotiations that will now take place. Readers of the site will be happy to know that Northern Ireland does get a mention Then there was also this BREAKING: EU27 leaders have accepted Ireland’s declaration that in the event of unity referendum Northern Ireland wd automatically rejoin EU — Tony Connelly (@tconnellyRTE) April 29, 2017   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can … Read more

Citizens’ assemblies in Northern Ireland planned to influence the Brexit debate

Three academics, John Garry and John Coakley of Queen’s and Brendan O’Leary of the University of Pennsylvania are planning citizens’ assemblies to feed into the Brexit debate in the absence of the elected Assembly. Good idea. We await an announcement which I hope will not be confined to academe, which is where I picked it up – you know, the liberal elite and all that. Their pitch is: How NI voted in the EU referendum – and what it means for … Read more

On Enda’s fondness for the precedent of German reunification, be careful of what you wish for

 The Irish government are entitled to congratulate themselves on their achievement in persuading the EU 26 to declare that if the North joined the Republic the new state would automatically inherit the Republic’s membership. Dublin hastens to add that this incorporates the  consent principle enshrined in the GFA and they are opposed to an early border poll. But the future of the open border is a completely different issue. Irish Times coverage ranges from euphoria about the declaration to nervousness … Read more

The dead are rising from their graves in West Belfast…

  It’s all in a day’s work.  Every day is different in community pharmacy and the stories we hear could not be made up.  Terry Maguire relates an unfortunate, frightening and bizarre night one of his patients had. Wet clay patches dappled his oversized anorak, his reddened face was muddied and his greying, thinning hair; wet and woolly.  He was smiling manically and exuded a strong stench of stale urine and strong alcohol.   Had it been closing-time I might have … Read more

Moving on and forgetting the old soldiers of the Provisional IRA…

If you missed this from Shane Paul O’Doherty a week or so back, then it’s worth catching. You should try and read the whole thing. But I think this paragraph is worth highlighting… The IRA from the period 1969-2005 is the first version of the IRA where the leadership has distanced itself from the armed struggle and its fighters, has claimed to have exited the IRA halfway through the campaign or has even entirely denied membership and command and control … Read more

Westminster’s reply to the SNP’s case for remaining in the single market was taken seriously after all. So why did May allow Sturgeon to claim she’d been ignored?

Here’s a strange thing. There we were, led to believe  that Theresa May had dismissed almost with  contempt Nicola Sturgeon’s  carefully  considered case for the UK, or at least Scotland,  to remain within the single market. It turns out it wasn’t like that at all. We know that because the Scottish Government itself has just published a reply to the SNP’s paper Scotland’s Place in Europe, from the Brexit Secretary David Davis in a letter dated 29 March. It lists … Read more

People Before Profit to campaign against “Tory-Brexit”

Interesting article from the Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley on the People Before Profit MLA and Westminster candidate, Gerry Carroll’s views on Brexit. From the article Many commentators attributed the decline in the People Before Profit representative’s vote to his pro-Brexit stance. But now Mr Carroll has said he will fight the general election on an “anti-Tory Brexit” ticket. He told The Irish News his party was as opposed to “Theresa May’s Tory Brexit” as it was to the … Read more

On legacy, Mrs May seems determined to play a cute political game of her own

This is interesting… Soldiers and police officers who served during the Troubles in Northern Irelandshould not be prosecuted in relation to historical killings and torture, a Westminster committee has said. The House of Commons defence select committee said a de facto amnesty granted to republican and loyalist paramilitaries under the 1998 Good Friday agreement should be extended to army and police veterans involved in killings and other incidents in the Troubles. It wants the next British government to introduce an … Read more

Easy lies and late truths – The daily struggle of dealing with the past in Northern Ireland

  In the past three weeks two coroners inquests into disputed shootings during the Troubles have found that two civilians were unjustifiably shot by British soldiers. Manus Deery was 15 when a soldier in an observation post shot him dead in Derry/Londonderry in 1972. Bernard Watt was 28 when a soldier fatally shot him during a riot in Ardoyne in 1971. Both inquests represent some truth for the families in clearing the names of their loved ones. Yet some 45 … Read more

The EU summit’s declaration on a united Ireland exposes British isolation

EU prepares for post-Brexit united Ireland membership Summit endorsement would raise fears over fragmentation of UK The Financial Times  is getting  excited about today’s  EU summit endorsing special treatment for Ireland  in the Brexit negotiations and raises “ fears for the fragmentation of the UK “ The Irish Times political editor Stephen Collins is equally excited that a declaration on Ireland gives Enda Kenny the dignified farewell he’s been seeking. What does it amount to? The Irish Times gives a … Read more

The Citizens’ Assembly has spoken: We must repeal the 8th Amendment.

  Over the past weekend the Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland finished hearing testimony and voted on the issue of abortion. The results were surprisingly and emphatically pro-choice, and they represent a resounding success for this experiment with deliberative democracy. Democracy was meant to be deliberative. The idea was that citizens, motivated not by selfish or sectarian drives but by civic duty, would discuss the issues facing their society with a view to arriving at the best possible outcome for everybody. … Read more

It’s all a bit of a mess

I decided to get over my FOMO and steer clear of social media when I was off for a week over Easter. Given I hadn’t heard any news or picked up a newspaper I allowed myself two minutes on Twitter – only to find that we were heading for yet another election. Seriously Mrs May! I love an election and exercising my hard-won democratic right to vote as much as the next person, but further polarising the country is not … Read more

Another curious Brexit side effect. Companies may get grants to move jobs out of the UK…

Nestlé has announced that they are to axe 300 UK jobs and move Blue Riband biscuit production to Poland. More than likely this is about cost saving and has nothing to do with Brexit but it does introduce some interesting questions. Under EU rules member countries are not allowed to give subsidies that encourage companies to move jobs from one member state to another. So in the Nestlé example, Poland could not give grants to  Nestlé. You can only grant … Read more

Amnesty for soldiers and police officers appears imminent after the election. And the effect on prospects for restoring the Assembly?

The government appear to be on the brink of taking the legacy of the Troubles out of the hands of the Assembly. The only  question remains if they would entertain an agreed counter proposal from the Assembly parties . You can work out for yourself  the prospects of that The Times (£) are reporting that The British government has moved one step closer to shielding British soldiers who served during the Troubles from murder prosecutions despite concerns that it could … Read more

Orange Order; We believe it is in Northern Ireland’s vital interests for as many Unionist MPs as possible be returned to our mother Parliament

The Orange Order has issue a statement today urging the Unionist parties to show “unity of purpose” The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland recognises the critical importance and huge significance of the forthcoming General Election. As the United Kingdom commences the process of exiting the European Union it is essential a purposeful and stable Government is elected to act on behalf of, and deliver the best possible deal, for its citizens. Equally, it is of the utmost importance that Northern … Read more

John Bruton; “The terms for Brexit, as set out so far by Mrs May, will do incalculable damage to this island, politically, emotionally and economically”

Some interesting evidence from former Taoiseach, John Bruton today; “While I believe it may seem impossibly optimistic today, I believe conditions can be envisaged in which, eventually, the UK voters might either decide, either not to leave the EU at all, or to decide, after it has left, to rejoin. Ireland should try to keep that possibility alive. “The terms for Brexit, as set out so far by Mrs May, will do incalculable damage to this island, politically, emotionally and … Read more

Is Northern Ireland’s cross-community case against Brexit trundling off to hell in handcart?

So is this election about Brexit? In fact, it is much more about each of the parties and their direct needs. Mrs May, seemingly unassailable in England and Wales is using it to break back into Scotland, and it will double nicely as that second referendum the Blairites have been calling for. The 48% will become considerably less than it has been since the election. In Northern Ireland, the demise of the majority Remain opinion is almost assured.  Brian Feeney thinks … Read more

The republic is pointing the way to solving the health care crisis throughout the island

  Here I join Mick in commending Newton Emerson for  giving a new twist to a familiar theme.   He describes a linkage between a  religious  ethos north and south and a lack of resources not due to funding alone, that stands in the way of  providing a better health service. In the republic a partial solution has been reached for transferring the National Maternity Hospital to a new 300m euro building on the St Vincent’s Hospital campus. The governing … Read more