Perspectives on Change from a Dublin-dwelling northern Prod

I am a Northern Irish Protestant who has lived in Dublin for the past twenty five years. I am proud to be from the Protestant community and proud to be from Northern Ireland. But I have never been so proud to be part of a society, as I have been to be part of the Republic of Ireland in recent years. A society that voted, myself included, in favour of marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. I have a friend … Read more

Boris Johnson resigns as foreign secretary – The Brexit implosion continues….

Boris is the latest to jump due to the burning platform that is Brexit. Who will be next? Will there be a leadership contest? Popcorn at the ready… Johnson quits amid Brexit row https://t.co/STjaliDISs — BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 9, 2018   Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff. My day job is creating websites and software. My personal site is: Freshideas.ie http://freshideas.ie

David Davis explains why he resigned as Brexit Secretary.

David Davis: “Theresa May and I both want to deliver the best Brexit. She’s offered a diluted version of it.” Watch again ▼@JuliaHB1 | https://t.co/sv3MZUm41c pic.twitter.com/Qe6UsXKt9a — talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) July 9, 2018 David Davis: “I will not run for leadership of the Conservative party.” Watch the full interview between Julia Hartley-Brewer and former Brexit Secretary David Davis on our YouTube channel ► https://t.co/Cpr3QLEXla@JuliaHB1 pic.twitter.com/0LR0ly9VK5 — talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) July 9, 2018 David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from … Read more

The bogey of a hard border is starting to vanish before our eyes

Majority reaction to the Chequers summit is cautiously optimistic, most reservations from all but the Brexiteer fanatics being postponed, using the alibi  of next Thursday’s publication of the 120 page government White Paper before they fully respond.  If you’re naturally positive, you’ll see it as an undoubtedly soft Brexit;  if  you’re a cynic whether Leaver or Remainer, you may call it a fake Brexit. The outcome can be summed up by saying that on goods and regulations, the UK will … Read more

The role of the block grant in the constitutional debate

Writing in the News Letter yesterday, Owen Polley makes the case for winning over the centre ground to the Union in an article which is surely a classic of the genre. Airily dismissing his own contribution to the debate as a commentator, he spends most of his article heaping scorn upon NI’s centre ground for openly considering the idea of constitutional change, and then goes onto scold Unionist politicians for their failure to win support for the status quo. Once … Read more

As another crisis hits the EU, raging against the Brexiteers is not an adequate response.

Boats with EU, UK flags sailing in opposite directions

Try as I might I’m unable to understand the appeal of Brexit for the UK, never mind Ireland north or south. I say “understand “deliberately rather than “appreciate”, as it is possible to see where people are coming from even if you don’t join them on the journey. Therefore I’m often a humble passenger on Fintan O’Toole’s train of thought. The greatly admired Fintan is among the most sophisticated critics of Brexit on either island from the high vantage point … Read more

Uniting Ireland means tackling the huge social debt generated by the Troubles before not after…

IThe uncertainty surrounding the Brexit process is driving what often comes across as feverish talk of a United Ireland. Make no mistake, Brexit (even a soft one) will change relations on and between these islands for good. But island unity is no foregone conclusion. In his column for the Irish Times week before last, Noel Whelan picked up the same United Ireland issue our Slugger panel will be discussing this Tuesday evening (still a few tickets left). He usefully puts his finger … Read more

The Union in Revolutionary Times

There may never be a United Ireland. But, equally, there could be one very soon. Historical inevitability is a fallacy best left to ageing Marxist university lecturers. So ubiquitous is forecasting the fate of Northern Ireland through the glacial process of demographic change, we forget that in revolutionary times, previously robust assumptions can crumble in a day. The night the Berlin Wall was accidentally opened, a panel discussion on West German TV discussed the stunning events of the previous hours … Read more

Margaret Thatcher And The Road to Brexit…

It was while reading Will Hutton’s and Andrew Adonis’s recently published book Saving Britain that a curious and disturbing thought came into my head, unexpectedly and without invitation; it hasn’t gone away. I’m not a great fan of either author, though they can give useful insights at times. The book has two main parts, firstly, how Brexit came about, and secondly what can be done to save Britain. The thought occurred while reading the first part. Apart from this thought, my views on Brexit … Read more

Would the DUP be any happier with a backstop, staying in the single market?

So it’s October then. The UK will fail to present its withdrawal plan to the EU summit at the end of the month and its backstop, handed in only after a cabinet crisis was averted on Thursday, would still lead to a hard border in Ireland. Lurking in the background may still be the option of some differentiation in NI’s status from GB. Such is the peculiar course of these negotiations, that the EU is mildly encouraged by the state … Read more

Boris Johnson and the “pure millennium bug stuff”

I’m really glad Boris Johnson, in private remarks, chose to draw a comparison between the Brexit process and the Millennium Bug. I’ve often thought this comparison was apt and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ comments have given me a great excuse to write about my own short experiences dealing with the bug. I was working at the HQ of a large Irish financial institution between the summers of 1999 and 2000 as part of my placement … Read more

The wheeze lasted less than 24 hours…

Trouble is, if you start a hare running you may have to shoot it.  David Davis had proposed Northern Ireland have a joint regime of UK and EU customs regulations, allowing it to trade freely with both, and a 10-mile wide “special economic zone” on the border with Ireland, thus avoiding checks there. The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) declined to comment directly on the report, but also did not reject it, saying work was underway to “refine” possible customs … Read more

Brexit and the fantasy outcomes it engenders may not be real, but real change is going to come…

So, as Brian points out, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have disappointed a lot of unionist politicians by not really giving them much to go on re the seemingly promised promotion of a United Ireland. This is a short video introduction to a piece I had published in the Guardian on Friday, discussing why the ambiguities introduced by the prolonged Article 50 negotiation process would not in themselves deliver either a border poll or a united Ireland.   Mick FealtyMick is … Read more

With May’s border plan rebuffed already, is the UK edging towards the single market as well as a customs union?

The gloves are off  with weeks to go before  the terms of  the UK’s withdrawal are supposed  to be presented  to EU leaders. In the most scathing briefing of its kind that  I can recall, a “senior EU official” has dismissed  Theresa May’s plan for  a British backstop  for remaining aligned  to the customs union as “fantasy” even before it’s  tabled. In turn the British complain of being insulted. To cap it all the  two sides are locked in a … Read more

“Less poll-watching, more planning [and more action], please….”

One of the problems with the Queens survey Brian highlighted this morning is that the Brexit related questions are couched in hypothetical terms “what if”. That makes them hard to read, and easy to dismiss. Nevertheless, it lances certain popular misassumptions about where we’re going. The vacuum of the last few years both in Northern Ireland and Westminster has given rise to an enormous amount of hyperbole around the consequences of a hard Brexit, most of it based on political … Read more

But a new customs backstop won’t be enough….

If the temporary extension  of the customs relationship was greeted with euphoria, it was shortlived, as the FT reports. It exposes the next big issue. The single market looms. Mrs May was accused by some Conservative MPs of “bouncing” the cabinet into adopting the scheme, and others said they had been kept in the dark. Senior EU officials also expressed doubts about the UK approach, warning that it diverges significantly from Brussels’ preferred outcome. “If this is it, we will … Read more

New backstop plan ties the whole UK to the customs union to buy time for solving the border problem

The rumour has now become fact (almost) Britain will tell Brussels it is prepared to stay tied to the customs union beyond 2021 as ministers remain deadlocked over a future deal with the EU, the Telegraph has learned. The Prime Minister’s Brexit war Cabinet earlier this week agreed on a new “backstop” as a last resort to avoid a hard Irish border, having rejected earlier proposals from the European Union. Ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday despite objections from Boris Johnson, the … Read more

Brexit: what the hell happens now? And Brexit and Ireland – Two interesting books on Brexit…

Let me be clear from the outset: I am a Remainer. I’ve not seen or read anything that would materially change my opinion. The European Union (EU) may have its problems, but overall I see it as a force for good. I live in N Ireland; here, we voted to remain in the EU. But the vote of the English outweighed this, and the vote in Scotland. The ‘will of the people’ is to Leave. The government triggered the Article … Read more

Northern Ireland’s 1968 at the epicentre of the French ‘Maydays’

As the 50th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s 1968 approaches, we can be hopeful that the accompanying commemorative interest will provide the necessary platform to enable a long-overdue and detailed reflection of what was an unquestionably seminal moment in our recent past. One particular area that requires a more comprehensive examination is how the events in Northern Ireland are to be understood within the broader (and rather exceptional) international context of the time. The term ‘1968’ has become a byword for … Read more

May tells Rees Mogg: with a hard border I’d not be confident of winning a border poll

Times report Theresa May confronted Jacob Rees-Mogg at a meeting with Tory MPs designed to break the deadlock over Britain’s future customs arrangements with the EU, The Times has learnt. The pair clashed yesterday over the impact of rival plans on the Irish border, in what witnesses described as the prime minister “sending a tough signal” to hardline Brexiteers that she was not prepared to jeopardise the Union. It came after Mrs May went over the heads of her squabbling cabinet with a personal … Read more