The 2020 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey – Political Attitudes in Northern Ireland in a Period of Transition…

The 2020 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) survey was conducted towards the end of a year of extraordinary upheaval. Across the world, all manner of social and human experience was affected by the coronavirus pandemic – births and deaths, home and work, private enterprise and public services. The health crisis began just 6 weeks into the ‘transition period’ from the UK’s exit from the EU to the implementation of a future UK-EU deal – the very existence of which …

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Northern Ireland’s MPs and Brexit: Their past and future influence…

The UK in a Changing Europe recently published a report on Parliament and Brexit. The report examines how much has changed as a result of Brexit and, of course, the 2019 election which is unlikely to have happened in other circumstances. It also looks ahead to upcoming challenges for Parliament as the transition period hurtles along. This extract from the report considers the parties from Northern Ireland and their place in Westminster. It is easy to forget in hindsight, but …

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The Brexit Border in 4 key slides

Recently I decided that what is needed right now are some slides that attempt to put the Brexit border issue as simply as possible. This is a pared-back and simplified overview of complex matters, but it’s my attempt to provide an outline of what border controls could mean for different types of border with the EU after Brexit. It is the second draft of a work in progress and any corrections, comments and suggestions are welcome. Slide 1 shows the different …

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‘Specific solutions’ & ‘distinct arrangements’: more of the same for post-Brexit NI?

In the space of a few carefully-worded paragraphs, the Joint Report issued by the UK and EU on Friday has managed to utterly transform the prospects for Northern Ireland after Brexit.   The UK-EU Joint Report The UK has offered surety for maintaining an open Irish border, promising to maintain wide-ranging alignment with EU rules covering every aspect of the 1998 Agreement, north/south and east/west. Moreover, it has asserted that Northern Ireland will ultimately have the right to decide for …

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The Irish border as a Brexit bargaining chip: A rejoinder to Legatum

The Legatum Institute’s ‘Special Trade Commission’ published a paper this week on the subject of Brexit and what it terms ‘the Irish border issue’. Citizens on the island of Ireland need to take note of this for two main reasons. First, Legatum is one of the most influential think tanks in London on the subject of Brexit at the moment – its views are likely to have traction at the highest levels. And, secondly, it perpetuates egregious views of Northern …

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Lessons from the Brexit debacle for our Executive debacle

On 10th April next year, familiar political figures and dignitaries (some with slightly less unscathed reputations than others) will gather in Belfast to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. Northern Ireland is already in the middle of a veritable feast of commemorations, all of which illustrate the entanglement of its history with major events across these islands and beyond: the 700th anniversary of Edward the Bruce’s campaign, the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle …

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Redeeming ‘North-Southery’ from Complacency

Complacency about the peace, about power-sharing, about cross-border cooperation, about, even, EU membership has allowed the unthinkable to happen. Such things that we have cherished and, indeed, brandished around the world as a sign of success have become playthings, tossed lightly up in the air in acts of outrageous political hubris. One after the other is falling to the ground and suddenly not only the future but the very present is characterised by uncertainty and instability. How can it be, …

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