Archive | Essays

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Should the Republic of Ireland Stay in the EU?

Former Irish ambassador Ray Bassett has written a detailed report for the UK think-tank Policy Exchange entitled After Brexit, Will Ireland be Next to Exit? He argues that Ireland should seriously consider whether or not it stays in the European Union, and he appears to favour an Irish exit. The issues raised by Bassett certainly deserve serious deliberation. 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…

And so the focus shifts…

And we’re back in Belfast with the main parties and their negotiations. The final deadline is Thursday, but substantial agreement is expected today. The DUP have obtained a deal that is extremely good for infrastructure, bringing things into the possible that were recently all but pipe dreams, although you may excuse my cynicism that the money more…

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What if #AE17b happens ?

It’s been a tumultuous week, to say the least, at the end of what had been a very boring election, with a number of historic and fascinating political developments going on. There’s been plenty of analysis of the wider political configuration on Slugger for the past while, so I thought I’d have a look at more…

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Letter From America: Health Care (and why it doesn’t work…)

For the past several years, I’ve been a guest speaker in our local high school’s ‘Culture Week’, when they ask people from overseas to come in and give presentations on life in their home country- food, sport, politics, art, and history- and the student’s then write reports on what they’ve learned. A frequently recurring question more…

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Letters From America: My Life Among the Trump Supporters…

‘Trump’s America’, day 103… People back in Ireland and Northern Ireland ask me a lot of questions about Trump’s supporters, in a tone that’s similar to what they might ask someone who’s seen African elephants- incredible creatures they’ve seen on TV, but still wonder what they’re like close up. Talk to any political scientist or more…

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Who is Donald Trump?

[Donald John, or Dòmnall Iain is one of the most common names on the Isle of Lewis, the birthplace of Donald Trump’s ancestors. It translates, from the Latin and Norse roots, as dom and val, as The Ruler of the World] In a wide-ranging interview, the writer, activist and ecologist, Alastair McIntosh, has raised an more…

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Border-o-meter

There has been a lot of talk about trying to avoid a “hard” border post-Brexit, and to preserve the open, free movement of people in the Common Travel Area. So I thought I’d look for some kind of scale of border “hardness”, which really means what degree of openness exists between two countries. The World Economic more…

What Reward for Gibraltar’s “Loyalty”?

On page 8 of the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines, Gibraltar is mentioned as follows: ‘After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.’ A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said more…

Special Status for the ROI in the EU?

In my post on whether Northern Ireland could stay in or have “special status” in the EU, I concluded that at the very least Northern Ireland does already have special status because everyone has the option of taking up an EU (Irish) passport. I’m now considering whether Brexit may also result in EU “special status” for the more…

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Article 50: Will Northern Ireland feature?

There can be little doubt that any of the political theatre surrounding this week’s delivery of Article 50 was intended for a domestic British audience. However  EU Council President Donald Tusk was moved to remark that it was “a sad day”, a sentiment, no doubt with resonance elsewhere, which went beyond his rather dry tweet more…

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How To Write It: A Brexit Breakup Note

The Prime Minister sits at her desk, which fits awkwardly, not like when she peered over it to banish Osborne. She’s put it off till now, but really, she’s got to write it: her Brexit Breakup Note. Larry, sensing the moment is not good, cowers from the leopard-print shoes with which he’s had his own more…

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Leaning in. The quiet revolution.

As International Women’s Day draws to a close for 2017, I’ve been reflecting on why it is necessary to have such a day. It is simple. International Women’s Day (IWD) is about acknowledging that in 2017, women still face discrimination and are under represented in many aspects of public life. Discrimination comes in many guises. more…