“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

The royal wedding: an entertainment that is also an investment in the future of the British state

The wedding of the Kilkeels belongs in that part of the human imagination that houses dreams and fantasy.   With identity such a great part of the imagination  on our island,  it is easily recognised as such, although what part of the imagination is affected can sharply differ. My memories are vivid of the pretty decent royal coverage in the Dublin media in 1973  when I was covering  the trial in Winchester of Gerry Kelly, the Price sisters and five others … 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

The Rorschach Test

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I argued in an earlier piece that the word “Unionism” should be handled with extreme care, because it has become overloaded with far too many overlapping yet inconsistent meanings. For slightly different reasons, we should also avoid using the phrase “United Ireland”. “Unionism” refers to a collection of existing things that can, with effort, be distinguished from each other. “United Ireland”, or its modern euphemism “New Ireland”, means nothing much at all, because it refers to a hypothetical something that … Read more

The Criminal Justice System and Lessons from the Belfast Rape Trial

The issues around the recent Belfast rape case have been well rehearsed; the unavoidable media saturation kept it well on the agenda of too many workplace coffee breaks and social media rants. This article will not rehash those conversations. Its purpose is to explore the challenge made to the criminal justice system by the activists who organised the rallies in its aftermath. The rally outside the court on the day after the judgement saw around 800 people attend in a … 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

Much to dislike about the 8th referendum campaign

As the campaigns to repeal or retain the 8th Amendment forge ahead, the first major television debate is now in the history books. The “three on three” format, on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live with audience contributions and boisterous applause throughout, has been criticised for shedding more heat than light. Meanwhile, Google’s late stage decision to call a halt to all online referendum advertisements, no matter who pays for them, has sparked outrage from backers of a No vote, who are … 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

A Yes Vote is the Only Way to Legislate for FFA and Rape Cases

Ivana Bacik is leader of the Labour Party in the Senead. In a recent essay on this site, high-profile No campaigner John McGuirk wrote about the difficulties of having to make a Yes or No choice in the forthcoming referendum. While I disagree with how McGuirk represented the nature of that choice, with less than a fortnight to go until 25th May, he was certainly correct in saying that many voters remain undecided. Over recent weeks, I have been out canvassing … Read more

Nationalists need to have an honest conversation about a New Ireland

Brian has already outlined the story in The Times that has been talked about today. Theresa May has been quoted as believing that a Border Poll could be winnable for the Nationalist side and I agree with her that in one attempt, Northern Ireland could be taken out of the United Kingdom via a referendum. Over the past year, Nationalism has made many gains in terms of vote share and the ability for the first time to construct an economic … 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

On Brexit we’re about to enter the eye of the storm before the relative calm

It’s the solemn duty of all professional  commentators always to be interesting, even at the expense of consistency with writers in their own paper or even with  themselves.  And this is a terrific time for fascinating chaos and confusion.  Where  official  “lines to take” are  not banal they are tangled up  and  inconsistent,  reflecting  the fact that over Brexit, a chronically divided cabinet are singing like birds. Tension is ramped up before yet another deadline to be missed whether it’s … Read more

Head of the HSE resigns over a catastrophic failure of empathy…

I’m slowly coming to the view that in our complex world, most of the problems we face are rooted in poor or inadequate forms of governance. Tonight, the head of Ireland’s HSE (a still embryonic form of the NHS) has resigned. It comes after a couple of weeks of constant pressure, and more importantly, heartbreaking stories of women who having been given an all clear with their cervical smear tests were only told after it became inoperable that their original test … Read more

“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20

“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20
by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News
8 May 2018

Political and legal scholars, peacemakers and peacebuilders convened at the Royal Irish Academy to review and discuss potential constitutional relationships between Ireland and the United Kingdom, especially vis-a-vis Northern Ireland and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the import of Brexit.

Read more“To change the riverflow of history”: Constitutional pasts and futures @UCDdublin #GFA20

Peace Journalist • Editor • Writer • Photographer • Peacebuilding a shared Northern Irish society • allan@mrulster.com • www.mrulster.com

So G’wan Leinster – but can we have a different Irish ‘winner’ next year please?

As another hugely successful season draws to a close, with a grand slam in the bag, Ireland ranked 2nd in the world and 2nd favourites to win next year’s world cup  – we can still look forward to Leinster winning the European Champions Cup. Leinster play Racing 92 of Paris in Bilbao (Spain) on Saturday 12th May. Kick off 16.45, Irish time. Whilst Ulster failed to get to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup, Connacht got to the quarterfinals of … Read more

“Sat nav and a mobile phone in the cab.” One of two answers to two problems?

David Trimble gets breezier by the day as he dismisses with a  “ no problem” problems that may seem to him small beer compared to  those that won him a share in the Nobel peace prize twenty years ago.   “ Sat Nav and a mobile phone in the cab “ sorts the border problem out he claims. ( But what then, David? Do they never have to stop for spot checks? Or if they do so, where)?  His remarks … Read more

Those ready for a modest change to Ireland’s abortion laws are confronted with a more radical proposition

John McGuirk is the Communications Director of the Save the 8th Campaign. In the first of a series of essays on the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution John shares his experience of the campaign and what’s at stake. Nothing has struck me more in this referendum debate than the comment made by a man on RTE Radio One’s “Joe Duffy” show last week. Joe had decided to find out what was happening out there beyond the … Read more

Brexit outcome will likely be moderated by a highly cautious GB electorate…

Boats with EU, UK flags sailing in opposite directions

Lots of speculation on what kind of Brexit is in the offing. One Bel Tel writer reckons Arlene was softening on a Customs Union, but it was clear from her appearance on the Andrew Marr Show she’ll do nothing to upstage the UK PM’s negotiations with the EU. But it’s worth considering this note from Janan Ganesh in the FT… For a country that demands rupture with a “failed” liberalism, Britain keeps returning parliaments that guarantee — at most — … Read more

“The third lesson of this episode stretches far beyond Israel-Palestine…”

The Palestinian leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, has been widely condemned for his anti-Semitic remarks in a televised speech addressing a meeting of the Palestinian National Council on Monday 30th April.  Among his critics, as the Belfast Telegraph notes, former US Secretary of State John Kerry Former US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote on Twitter: “These comments are wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker. No … Read more

Guardian exclusive. A home grown plan for checks at NI ports, rejected by the DUP but still in play

A backup plan to impose border checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK at ports and airports to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit has been drafted by senior civil servants. Despite the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) angrily rejecting any suggestion of a border “in the Irish Sea”, a leaked paper reveals that officials have been working on a blueprint “to be deployed as necessary in the negotiation process” While acknowledging these … Read more