Author Archive | Brian Walker

A reply on Brexit to Nicholas Whyte

I don’t think I did leave out “the important dimension” of the Irish border, one of three issues identified by the EU before trade talks can begin. On this I agreed with the Brexit Secretary David Davis who asked how the border issue could  possibly be settled in advance.  A settlement on the Irish border more…

A border down the Irish Sea is a straw man

The Times of London lead “Irish want sea border after Brexit”  is probably plugging a line from Dublin harder than it deserves, in claiming that the Irish government under  new leadership is calling for  an economic border down the Irish Sea as the only viable alternative to an unacceptable  hardening of the  land border. Sir more…

Ruth Davidson’s breath of fresh air

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the reviving Scottish Conservatives, is a Tory of a different hue from the stereotype. The Unherd website she has written for has attracted the attention of the mainstream media. You don’t have to be a conservative  to feel  the hint of a breath of fresh air blowing through our troubled more…

A new approach to deadlock in Northern Ireland

  A unique coincidence of events Standing back, it’s easy enough to see why the latest Assembly crisis is the longest and most intractable for over a decade. Unusually in recent times and in sharp contrast to the heady days of the Good Friday Agreement, this breakdown is set against background of momentous upheaval which more…

Update! Shock victory for free abortions in England for NI women as the government suddenly caves in to cross party pressure

The chancellor has just announced that the government intends to fund abortions in England for women from Northern Ireland. I recommend scrolling down the Guardian Live for the sequence of events ending in reverse order with the splash in George Osborne’s Evening  Standard, “Abortion Vote Chaos Hits May.” The Guardian believes this was done so more…

Resorting to law for violating impartiality won’t end political deadlock but fresh Westminster legislation now just might

It always happens, doesn’t it, that when political deadlock becomes tighter, legalistic arguments become more obsessive. It’s a hoot to claim that the once great  hero of the GFA  and now  the great scapegoat for all that’s gone wrong anywhere, anytime Tony Blair, conned the poor innocent parties to the St Andrew’s Agreement over an more…

The Westminster deal has a confidence building effect which should allow the DUP and SF to confront their differences honestly – and soon, in the Assembly

The DUP deal at Westminster is reasonably secure. The prospects for a Stormont deal seem up in the air and due for postponement until the autumn. The best hope for today is that Sinn Fein may feel they’ve got just enough to continue the negotiations back in the Assembly pending the creation of an Executive more…

And there could be more dosh to come! But the government rejects demands from a chorus of women MPs to fund abortions for NI women

The payout could be higher as a result of studies of the impact of lower corporation tax and scrapping air passenger duty.  In its financial analysis the FT points out that Costs will be higher if the renewed commitment to allow Northern Ireland to set its own lower corporation tax rate and air passenger duty more…

First questions about the DUP deal with the Conservatives

Handing over the money is not contingent on restoring the Executive – at least in print. but it is clearly intended  to put pressure on Sinn Fein. If there is no Executive what happens with the new £1 billion and even the already promised £500 million? A budget has to be passed next month by more…

Do we want Westminster to impose uniform UK standards? On abortion and same sex marriage? How about an indemnity for soldiers?

 Social reform – on abortion and same sex marriage – is not only a bone of contention in the Stormont talks. It’s creating a clash with MPs across party at Westminster at a precarious time for the future of both legislatures. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the appeal against the decision of the Health Secretary more…

What does the British government think its proper role is?

Until last week, remarkably little attention had be paid to how this government  views  its obligations under “Constitutional Issues”  (v) of  the Good Friday  (Belfast) Agreement: (v) affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised more…

The shape of a Stormont deal is emerging. Will promised public consultation seal the deal or become yet another stalling move?

So the parties are to respond to a paper issued by the two governments today. After four months of apparent lack of close engagement by the British government in particular , talks  took on a clearer shape and urgency since the Westminster general election. The paper has been seen by Barney Rowan and summarised in more…

UK Supreme Court rules narrowly against free abortions in England for Northern Ireland women. But in Scotland?

Support for abortion reform in Northern Ireland becomes all the more relevant after the decision of the Supreme Court last Wednesday narrowly to reject the appeal against  Jeremy Hunt the Health Secretary for England,  refusing to exercise his discretion to allow  women from Northern Ireland to have abortions free of charge on the NHS  in more…