“Northern Ireland must be treated as an integral part of the UK, until a border poll determines otherwise…”

Since the unionist voice is almost it’s worth reading this piece into the Slugger record, from Owen Polley in the Irish Times… If the withdrawal agreement’s version of the backstop comes into force, Northern Ireland will be prevented from leaving the single market and the customs union with the rest of the UK. In order to ship goods into the North, companies from Great Britain will have to complete a customs declaration because, by law, they will be operating from … Read more

Varadkar offers a way out of deadock – or a hedge against failure?

The UK national papers are united in hopelessness over May’s latest strategy, tempered only by disbelief.  Plan B is Plan A. Even the cheerleader for Brexit the Daily Telegraph is not impressed. The Europe editor slaps down the  chief political correspondent’s “ exclusive.” Theresa May is considering amending the Good Friday Agreement as part of a fresh attempt to unblock the Brexit logjam, The Daily Telegraph understands. Peter Foster But the mere suggestion that a British government wants to ‘amend’ the Good Friday Agreement should … Read more

Beyond Brexit Waterfront conference to focus on rights and the future

It’s getting hard to remember politics before Brexit, a word that did not even exist prior to 2012. It has come to dominate British and Irish politics, with our own local political stalemate firmly relegated to a secondary concern for political leaders into the forseeable future. Concerns about the backstop and a hard border have tended to dominate much of the discussions in an Irish context, overshadowing many of the other concerns that exist with regard to how Brexit can … Read more

The Front Runner – Gary Hart’s campaign implosion and the fall out on the women around him – has much changed in 30 years?

When should a politician’s private life impact their public campaign? In this film, while the replay of the 1987 editorial and political conversations around the investigations into Gary Hart’s personal life are interesting, and the mobile phone and early Apple Macintosh props are fun to revisit, it’s the invasion of privacy of young women involved with married politicians and the seeming continued absence of editorial protection that are perhaps most disturbing to watch thirty years later.

Backstop terms are in prospect in any final deal. Unionists cannot afford to stand apart

Unfashionable though it may be to ask: do the DUP have a point when they object so strongly to the backstop? Undoubtedly it confers special status on Northern Ireland but in a form nobody likes, even nationalists who called for it.  Mrs May’s deal a.k.a. the withdrawal agreement,  is presumed dead ; the backstop is only sleeping. The bitter controversy surrounding it dramatically expresses the fundamental  difference of outlook  between the legalistic approach of  people schooled from the beginning  in … Read more

No, Brexit Britain doesn’t want her Empire back…

Brexit is about a lot of things, but one thing I agree with John Lloyd it is not (for the vast majority at least) is lost Empire. The sheer narrowness of the vote even in England ought to give some our more enthusiastic purveyors of this line some pause for thought. During the week, John Lloyd, an unenthusiastic remain voter, laid out a more realistic view of the matter to Ivan Yates on Newstalk.. The interview came on foot of … Read more

From triggering to extending Article 50, there’s a scarcity of good news & options for the embattled May

Two and a half years on from the decision to Brexit, there is no greater clarity about what that actually means nor the form it will actually take. What has become clear in the interim is that Britain’s political class is hopelessly and haplessly divided, devoid of political leaders on either side of the benches with sufficient stature, cunning and guile to navigate a clear course ahead. On the BBC’s Inside Politics programme tonight, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern didn’t hold … Read more

In the Brexit chaos political maturity is becoming a scarce commodity…

It is hard to escape the impression that there’s been a creeping but potentially catastrophic loss of political maturity across the west. Every opportunity to act as a states(wo)man, it seems, is actively being refused because… Well, you can take your pick of excuses.  In the capital of the richest country in the world, federal civil servants now face the loss of a second monthly cheque, and are turning up on breadlines, or serving up to fellow workers. They continue to … Read more

Ian Paisley splashes charity’s cash, whilst tanaiste goes economy to New York…

Nice work if you can get it. Brendan Hughes of the Irish News has been doing a little digging… IAN Paisley billed a Belfast charity for almost £6,000 to fly first-class to a peace conference in New York. Others travelling to the event from Ireland and Britain, including tánaiste Simon Coveney, flew in economy – more than 10 times cheaper in price. Political opponents branded the DUP MP “truly shameless” for recouping the high-cost travel from a charity. Sam McBride … Read more

Brexiteers at bay after the first day of May talks widens internal party splits

As Paul Waugh aptly says in Huffpost.. The lectern moment’ really is wearing thin as a useful dramatic device for Theresa May. She’s stood on the steps of No.10 so many times now that she’s devalued the currency of its impact. And after this week’s shattering defeat of her Brexit plan, more than ever it seems like her Downing Street announcements are all words and no action. May rightly said the nation needs to ‘come together’, but showed little flexibility or humility needed to make … Read more

O’Neill “government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament”

Sinn Fein Vice President, Michelle O’Neill held a phone conversation with the Secretary of State to discuss the impasse over the Withdrawal Agreement; “I had a frank discussion with the British Secretary of State and I told her that her government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament. “With each passing day, our business community, our farmers, our community and voluntary sector are growing … Read more

Break-up of the parties or No Deal Brexit – the looming choice

As matters stand, we’re either heading for crash out No Deal or the main parties are heading for break-up. The Conservative and Labour leaders are dolally.  Theresa May is listening but not  to anybody who wants  a customs union or a second referendum.  Jeremy Corbyn will not only not meet her but has urged all Labour MPs not to meet her either.  But this request in a letter to his MPs came too late to stop former ministers Yvette Cooper and … Read more

Eastwood “Continuing to chase after the DUP, who hold a minority view in Northern Ireland is a mistake”

The SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood has criticised Theresa May for her lack of consultation with other parties in Northern Ireland. He said; With each passing day, the British Government show an ever increasing disregard for the people of Northern Ireland. The sheer lack of communication, and indeed recognition that Northern Ireland will be devastated by a Brexit set to be delivered by dysfunctional politics in London, speaks volumes. “Despite false utterings from the DUP about a border down the Irish … Read more

Tony Blair calls for extension of Article 50

Extending the #Brexit deadline is “inevitable” says Tony Blair: “If I was the government now, I would already be having discussions with Europe about the terms of an extension” #r4today https://t.co/55w4Ws2GFr pic.twitter.com/lxWzAYZr4x — BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) January 17, 2019

Book review: Brexit and the bridge too far…

Walking the dog through the silent streets and avenues of an unusually deserted south Belfast, the scene reminded me fleetingly of Sunday mornings during the industrial, asthma-inducing nineteen fifties when there wasn’t a soul about. Everyone then would have been indoors in semi-darkness, putting down fires and making fries before the call of whichever church service they adhered to or simply ‘turning over’. Not so here and now. It was a bright morning, the air clear as a bell. Shop … Read more

Varadkar “words aren’t enough” to avoid a hard border

Taoiseach – “Words aren’t enough” to avoid a hard border. Says there must have an agreement on customs union & regulatory alignment. “Its not good enough to say there won’t be a hard border because nobody wants one.” #brexit pic.twitter.com/dLHoQZrwG5 — Darran Marshall (@DarranMarshall) January 16, 2019

“what a political party should never do, is to try to censor an artist’s work…”

Good from Brian Feeney, who put his customary Belfast bluntness to excellent use on that cartoonist-is-censoring-me story from last week: It turns out that Sinn Féin didn’t like a cartoon Spencer had drawn last year about Sinn Féin’s response to the Barry McElduff Kingsmill loaf controversy. At the time Spencer received a barrage of criticism from Sinn Féin but he replied: ‘The job of an artist is to observe events and point out hypocrisy and wrongdoing wherever it exists.’ True, … Read more