Europe’s chief negotiator to make the trip to Northern Ireland that our own Prime Minister is currently too busy for

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has said that during a trip to Ireland later this week he will visit the border areas that are soon to become the divide between the UK and the EU. Meanwhile, Theresa May in the run-up to the election that she has made all about Brexit has reversed her earlier promise to visit the place that will likely be most affected by the split with Europe. In this time of uncertainty for Northern Ireland with threats of a return to the hard border of the past, Northern Ireland is currently reliant on the people who are supposedly the UK’s opposition in the negotiations to look out for our interests. The paradox of this situation does not seem to be particularly bothering any of our politicians.

This marks the second time in two months that Mrs May has shown little regard for Northern Ireland and any potential political crisis we may face. Her decision to call an election in the first place halted all chances of an agreement being reached at Stormont, leaving Northern Ireland without a government for the foreseeable future.
As for our own local politicians, they are far from without blame in the situation we now find ourselves in. They have completely abandoned us in this time of great importance in their failure to form a government. Even the pro-EU parties have failed to unite around this common cause to ensure the best deal for Northern Ireland.

Concerned, not without justification, that a pact between the pro-EU parties would be viewed as nothing more than a nationalist pact by another name. At a time when peace and the future of Northern Ireland are at stake we find ourselves completely unrepresented and yet the EU have not taken advantage of this but rather have taken the responsibility unto themselves. Is it any wonder Northern Ireland voted to remain in the Union that is now showing an interest in our wellbeing even as we prepare to leave it?

By Finn Purdy

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  • Fear Éireannach

    Mind you, May is not the UK negotiator, but whoever he or she is I’m sure they have not been seen in Belcoo or Forkhill.

  • Brian Walker

    She’s campaigning in an election and there are no votes to win here, emphasising the familiar fact that although NI is part of the UK constitutionally, it is barely part of the political nation, as defined by where government parties organise. But where did she reverse her pledge to visit all parts of the UK? I missed that. Or did she do another usual and really mean GB?

  • Nevin

    Michel Barnier and Tony Blair. Should be quare crack!

    [adds] Jim Nicholson lacks the panache, the turn of phrase, of Martina Anderson but he still managed to give Michel Barnier a good tonguing!

  • Salmondnet

    ” barely part of the political nation, as defined by where government parties organise.” Nicely put. As defined by quite a lot of other tests as well. In addition, only 50% part of the UK as defined by loyalty and identity. Doesn’t really look sustainable except in the context of the general absorption of European nation states into greater Germany. Perhaps Mrs May is just tacitly acknowledging this reality.

  • the rich get richer

    Blair is so unpopular in Britain that it would be a big undertaking to keep him safe .

    He is probably safer in Northern Ireland .

  • Jag

    Won’t there be 18 Conservative candidates running here Brian, just as soon as they can get the rope ladder down on the helicopter they use to fly them in for elections.

    Fingers crossed that Sikh chap is running again. I never get tired of that “They keep asking me, am I a Catholic Sikh or a Protestant Sikh”

  • Jag

    Not sure Tone is visiting the North; he’ll be in county Wicklow on Thursday as a guest as the European Peoples Party meeting, with star turn Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. Promises to be entertaining, Blair is infinitely more pragmatic than the powdery ditz that’s running the show in Whitehall.

  • Nevin

    EPP, the austerity party. Are there likely to be any anti-austerity protests?

  • Jag

    Unlikely. There have been a few EPP meetings in Ireland since 2011. I remember a small protest at one in the Convention Centre on the north quays in Dublin, but don’t expect any this time round.

  • Nevin

    I suspect the UK can expect some of the same rough treatment that has been meted out to Ireland previously.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Little did we know while arguing here, that Jim Nicholson had sorted it all out
    The UUP would accept neither a hard border between the Irish Republic
    and Northern Ireland, nor an internal border within the UK, added Mr
    Nicholson.
    . That’s a relief.

  • eireanne3

    The UK government is interviewing and may have even appointed a Johnny Foreigner to do the job for them!!
    He has not been seen in Belcoo or Forkhill!!
    Not totally unexpectedly his field of expertise is as a a negotiator who specialises in military conflict resolution

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-hires-war-negotiator-william-ury-advise-brexit-talks-a7722381.html

  • Dan

    Maybe Barnier will be inspecting the EU customs post sites their negotiating team will insist upon siting in the Republic of Ireland.
    Has Gerry’s lot promised not to bomb them?

  • runnymede

    ‘any potential crisis we may face…’ please. This is silly stuff.

  • aquifer

    “We will take care of ourselves” Sounds more like whistling in the dark.

  • Karl

    I don’t think jarry has ever advocated bombing cairnryan

  • Croiteir

    Does anyone really believe that Stormont will make any difference in the negotiations when they are not there

  • Fear Éireannach

    I’s say there are dealers in Jonesborough market that would be his equal at negotiating.

  • DrMark

    What about not coming to Northern Ireland mr barnier, The U.K. voted leave and now your job is to negotiate with our elected representatives at Westminster, not to stir up the populace here at a particularly sensitive time, what we don’t need is to be used as political pawns in your game of chess with HMG,
    We do have a government in London, (unlike here), so please talk to them about how we can leave this dreadful EU as smoothly as we can, please do not defy the will of the people of the entire uk as you have formerly done in other European referenda previously

  • Granni Trixie

    But the Royals were in Heaneyland yesterday!

  • Granni Trixie

    Yes, whatabout Martina for the job?

  • Fear Éireannach

    “We” do not have a government in London, that government is not representing the majority of NI people on this matter. It isn’t even trying to collect data on the matter as Barnier is.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There is a hiatus just now for the General Election, then things will move forward. But don’t expect anything to be sorted quickly, it’s part of a much bigger negotiation. I’m pretty confident we’ll have something not too bad by the end of it. But for now there is little point fretting about it, let’s just be patient and make sure we get a new arrangement that broadly works OK. For all the apocalyptic visions of disaster, the outcome for NI is almost certainly going to be some quite mundane minor adjustments to trade that will affect business people somewhat and everyone else not that much. And I write that as a passionate Remain voter.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The government represents the whole country, including NI.

  • Nevin

    Perhaps Enda will be stepping into Donald’s shoes; they’d not fit Gerry or Martina.

  • DrMark

    So I take it that you will not be voting in June as you have no government in London, yeah right,

  • whatif1984true

    SF focus on a united Ireland yet we all know that if a referendum was held tomorrow then there would not be a vote for it.
    Living our lives in peace and happiness with future similar prospects for our children is what we want. Politicians don’t campaign for these aims they are far too non sectarian.

  • Neil

    They wouldn’t make any difference if they were there. We don’t matter to Britain not matter how loudly we complain, twas every thus.

  • Salmondnet

    Thank you Corporal Jones,

  • DrMark

    Mr tony b liar, in Ireland spouting his pro euro sewage, now there is a tasty proposition for irony in a country almost castrated by EU fiscal dogma enslavement….

  • Fear Éireannach

    Arguing for the continuation of NI is sectarian, it is a sectarian entity with no long term future.

  • Fear Éireannach

    Are business people not citizens too, why is it OK to impose things on them? Surely we need more successful businesses, not harassment of existing business.

  • Fear Éireannach

    There is a government working for the whole country, including NI and it isn’t located in London. The one in London is working for its country, England.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That’s just not true. Whatever you think of the current government – and I’m not a fan – it is the elected government of the whole UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Because there was a democratic vote to go this way and it has to be respected, or we’re not a democracy.

  • Fear Éireannach

    There was also a democratic vote for the peace settlement in NI which is being ignored. Having people in England vote to decide how whether I will be allowed travel around my own neighbourhood may be democracy, it is also colonialism.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And “the whole UK”, MU, is an historically contingent entity which clearly appears to be on its very last legs in a world where the kind of sovereignty it has demanded back in exiting from Europe is on the wane, withering under the growth of endless international arrangements which are ensuring that that kind of discreet sovereignty is a thing of the past.

    Taken as a bounded entity, NI itself has clearly chosen something different from the rest of a UK. Of course on sheer numbers alone any vote of the entire UK will always be compelled to follow England’s demands, just as the minority community in NI was compelled to follow the will of the Unionist majority after 1920. Claiming as trump card the authority of “the elected government of the whole UK” only works if the subilties of the situation are wantonly dismissed and this simple reality that English interests appear to be paramount in everything we are seeing in the opening moves of the exit negation is blandly ignored. It makes no difference whether anyone who supports the current government is a fan or not, such support is against both our local interests and the local majority vote. Does this not suggest that there is a divergence of interest here in which the Union is at odds with our local concerns?

  • Fear Éireannach

    How many votes did the party of the UK government receive in NI?

  • DrMark

    Where is this fictional seat of power located, the hill of Tara or navn fort perhaps and run by fairy folk too

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Wikipedia puts it: “No consensus exists on how to define democracy.” How does being swamped by the crude majoritarian interests of the English community read as somehow more democratic than an affirmation of our own local interest vote? Both are “democratic” in they are expressions of a defined group of people, and as I’ve pointed out above the UK is a contingent arrangement currently tottering under the stresses of diverging interests between the core and the periphery. The “argumentum ad populum” of all such appeals to the simple majority or to the absolute decisiveness of that very ambigious term “democracy” is always something of a red herring, usually to crudely deflect attention away from the widening contradictions which may significantly appear in any situation.

  • james

    Depends who replaces him when he finally croaks, I suppose. Martina Anderson certainly sounds like she might actually take on the EU 🙂

  • Fear Éireannach

    Enda Kenny has no fairy connections, not sure about his successor.

  • Fear Éireannach

    I’d say most of the “government” couldn’t even name the 6 counties, or even 5 of them.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Again, MU, there is no such country. There is a union of countries and other entities called the UK, but it in itself is not a country. And the individual countries and entities which make up the UK have voted majorities for and against Brexit. England of course has far more citizens (or rather, in England, subjects) and MP’s than the other three, but for this fact to allow English wishes precedence over the wishes of the other parts makes a mockery of the supposed spirit of the Union. It is for this very reason that Scotland will soon be leaving the union, and possibly NI will too.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Ditto for Alba.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I suggest you consult a dictionary, or listen to another English-speaker.

  • whatif1984true

    I agree it is and was a sectarian division. The unification of Ireland will ultimately be based on respect and harmony. Currently that is not on the horizon and it is not fostered by the politicians.
    I have no magic formula to create trust and respect amongst us but neither do the supposed leaders we have.
    The priorities of politicians relate to their own power holding and NOT the needs of ordinary people.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    From the UK governments own website, MU:

    10.2 Definitions
    10.2.1 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Usually shortened to United Kingdom)
    The United Kingdom is a constitutional Monarchy consisting of four constituent parts:

    ** 2 countries: England + Scotland
    * 1 principality: Wales
    * I province: Northern Ireland.

    The abbreviation is UK or U.K.; the code (according to the ISO 3166-1 standard) is GB/GBR.

    10.2.2 Great Britain
    Great Britain consists of England + Scotland + Wales. The term is exclusive of Northern Ireland and is therefore not a synonym for the term United Kingdom. Note that the word “Great” is not in any way intended as an indicator of self-styled “greatness”; it simply derives from the French term Grande-Bretagne (“Greater Brittany” or “Larger Brittany”), used since mediaeval times to distinguish the British Isles from Bretagne (“Brittany”, the region of north-western France).

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/326664/UK_Toponymic_Guidelines.pdf

  • MainlandUlsterman

    All of which is entirely consistent with what I was saying!
    Oh dear …

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Rubbish MU. You are saying that there is a “country” called the UK. I am saying there is no such thing – that it is in fact a temporarily “unified” political entity made up from actual, real countries. The above makes my case – not yours.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But it says nothing about whether the UK can be referred to as a country or not.

  • Reader

    Finn Purdy: Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has said that during a trip to Ireland later this week he will visit the border areas that are soon to become the divide between the UK and the EU. Meanwhile, Theresa May in the run-up to the election that she has made all about Brexit has reversed her earlier promise to visit the place that will likely be most affected by the split with Europe.
    Will Barnier be talking to Northern Ireland politicians to gather their perspectives on Brexit?
    Or is it a purely symbolic side trip, taking time out from the actual purpose of his visit?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    There is no grammatical justification for a ‘country’ being defined as made up of two different countries. We generally call something like that an empire or a union. In the case of the UK, there is no equality between the countries, so I would prefer to call it an empire. (A small one, with poor prospects of staying as such).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    OED eat your heart out

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I’m currently applying for a job there. Unless it’s all robots now.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Whatever you think of the current government – and I’m not a fan – it is the elected government of the whole UK.”

    Was that not the argument used against the northern Unionists rejecting the Liberal Government’s Third Home Rule Bill in 1911/12? The very existence of Northern Ireland comes about from the affirmation that a locality can place its own interests above the will of the “whole country”, and reject constitutionalism in going to “any ends” in pursuit of such interests.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    About half of our community do not vote already, DM. This is a pretty clear indication of how local people seem to view Westminster and Stormont.

  • Katyusha

    On top of Seaan’s note, you may be trying to be sarcastic but you are actually bang on the money. There is a section of nationalist society that refuses to vote in Westminster elections on ideological grounds.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As I’ve been saying elsewhere to murdockp, irony or even sarcasm is a difficult act to get over on Slugger, and I should know:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/sluggerotoole/fosters_blonde_comment_only_one_piece_of_a_bigger_picture_of_sexism_within_dup/#comment-3306580064