London and Dublin must clear their lines for close cooperation on direct rule

Clarity rather than coyness is now needed over moves toward direct rule. Working on its  scope and duration is one more compelling reason for London and Dublin  to stick together.  On Monday at the otherwise disastrous Stormont meeting, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar pledged “to work together on a new plan on how to achieve a frictionless Irish border.” Good luck to them with that. On the continuing local stand-off, two elements are essential. Enough action must be taken to … Read more

Irish citizenship may open the door to an extended role for Dublin and Brussels in the North after Brexit

Brian WalkerFormer BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

On the border, a cabinet split emerges and UK-Irish tensions are renewed, as negative impact assessments of Brexit options are published in full

Northern Ireland comes out third  worst in the full version of regional assessments by HM Treasury of the impact of Brexit region by region. These were leaked to Buzzfeed last week then issued confidentially  to MPs and now published by  the BBC. The assessments, discounted by Brexiteers as failing properly  to model their preferred option of a free trade deal, emerged in full as tensions rose once again over the implications for the   border both within the British cabinet and … Read more

The Customs Union contradiction in a nutshell

Further to Brian’s post on the border fudge, an example I came up with last night… Nobody in the United Kingdom makes red widgets. Which is unfortunate, as the UK makes lots of white and blue widgets. (boom boom) China makes red widgets (and some yellow ones.) Britain reaches a free trade agreement with China that involves no tariffs on red widgets (the puns shall continue until morale improves.) The EU’s agreement with China imposes a 30% tariff on red … Read more

The border fudge ” will not survive”

Michel Barnier’s warning that  trade barriers are “ unavoidable” if Britain leaves the single market and the customs union has been reinforced by EU briefings that  December’s  fudge on Irish border options will be difficult to  sustain. The Irish Times report puts it gently. EU and British officials are working to translate December’s political agreement – which includes guarantees from the British government that there would be no return to a hard border in Ireland – into a legal text … Read more

Martin backs Northern representation in EU Parliament after Brexit

The Fianna Fail Leader Micheál Martin has backed post-Brexit representation for the North after Brexit in an report in the Irish News by John Manley. Manley reports; Speaking during a visit to Belfast yesterday, Mr Martin said he supported the principle of continued representation for the north. “In my view, this whole idea of respecting and ensuring that the European citizenship of people in Northern Ireland is given some manifestation and some reflection in the post-Brexit deal, is very, very … Read more

Splits widen in May’s cabinet and party as Varadakar comes closer to backing Hammond’s version of a soft Brexit

Brexit politics is hotting up amid the snows of Davos. The Brexiteer house paper the Daily Telegraph reports remarks from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar taking a soft Brexit line close to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s in the Swiss resort.  Hammond is the key figure here. He has  lit the blue touch paper to ignite the Tory right and  earned himself a rebuke from a No 10 which is trying to damp down the first flickers of new surge against Theresa May’s weak … Read more

Implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland: Have your Say…

When it comes to looking at the implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland, the BrexitLawNI project has been out and about gathering information about the concerns of people living in Northern Ireland. Townhall-style events have taken place in Belfast, Derry and Enniskillen, with more events scheduled next month. BrexitLawNI is a collaborative research project between the Law Schools at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University as well as the region’s leading human rights organisation, the Committee for the Administration of … Read more

One thing that unionists might want

In a previous article, I made the bold assertion that “Nationalism has nothing that Unionism wants”. What I should have said was “Northern Nationalism has nothing that Unionism wants, and Nationalism in general has nothing that Unionism wants… yet”. While Northern Nationalism may still not have much to attract Unionism, after 30th March next year the Republic will have something that unionists may quickly find themselves jealous of. MEPs. While their colleagues in Stormont and Westminster get seemingly endless airtime, … Read more

Arlene Foster spoke no empty words. The road to renewed cross community cooperation may run through Dublin and Brussels

Arlene Foster’s demarche surely marks a truce or even peace  between the Irish government and the DUP in the squabbles over Brexit. It will also  consolidate Dublin’s  improving  relations with Westminster. All this is welcome. Neither wants a hard land border on the island or trade barriers between the Republic and Great Britain. It was just that Dublin’s priority was elevating no hard border to a position of veto over the UK government’s whole strategy, while the DUP had a … Read more

” Change should not be allowed to weaken the relationships so painstakingly put together across these British Isles. “

DUP Leader Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster MLA speaking at the inaugural Killarney Economic Conference this morning. Whilst the referendum was a vote by the British people, the ripples that flow from the referendum result will be far reaching with long-term implications for people well beyond the shores of the United Kingdom.  And I appreciate and understand that nowhere will be more impacted by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union than Ireland.  I grew up only a few miles from … Read more

“As with the hardest essay questions, there is no right answer but many wrong ones.”

Writing in the Guardian, “former Downing Street Brexit spokesperson”, Matthew O’Toole [no relation – Ed] has some intelligent, and interesting, things to say about “the psychology of imagined identity” here, and the task facing the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, as well as the UK Prime Minister in the next phase of the Brexit negotiations. [Definitely no relation! – Ed] From the Guardian article As Bradley will discover, Brexit has unsettled one of the most intangible but … Read more

PM Tess and Good Queen Bess

Theresa May has made much of being a vicar’s daughter in seeking to build her image. Less remarked on is that she is from a particular sub-tradition within the Church of England, and so deeply formed by it that its particular take on English history will shape how she sees the UK’s relationship with mainland Europe. In thinking about Brexit, she must inevitably perceive echoes of the last time England was so bitterly riven about its identity and destiny, in … Read more

Where do we put Ulster’s Irish passport office?

Holding an Irish passport has become quite the statement. Since the Brexit vote applications have surged for a number of reasons including re-asserting an Irish identity in Britain and the north respectively. Also by Britons that want to hold on to their European Union citizenship. Dagmar Schiek, Professor of Law at Queen’s University Belfast said that “The British in Northern Ireland who do not also opt for Irish citizenship would be worse off after Brexit,”  Bearers of these little red books … Read more

Poll records another jump in support for Irish Unity

A new poll out today conducted by Ireland Thinks for the Irish Daily Mail has recorded a jump in support in voters in the South f0r Irish Unity. Ireland Thinks interviewed a random sample of 1,144 adults aged 18+ by telephone between Thursday 14th December and Friday 22nd December 2017. This group carried out a similar poll in March this year. Respondents were asked the following question; If it cost the Irish government €9 billion per annum for Northern Ireland … Read more

Slugger TV; Reviewing the year in politics

My panel this month was Brendan Hughes (Irish News), Kellie Turtle (Feminist Commentator) & our own Alan Meban. We reviewed the year in politics looking at the most over-reported and under reported stories of the year, as well as the politicians to watch. Slugger TV will be returning in January 2018. Our thanks to NVTV who have helped us put this together. David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on … Read more

Coveney says there is a need to repair relations with the DUP

Government needs to repair relationship with the DUP – Tánaiste @simoncoveney tells #twip pic.twitter.com/KGnv3gxOqj — The Week in Politics (@rtetwip) December 17, 2017 This comes after the Fianna Fail Leader, Michael Martin raised some concerns about the Irish governments strategy in an interview with JOE.ie; The problem with, what Martin calls the government’s “megaphone diplomacy” and the “weakening of the back channels between the leaders of Ireland and the UK”, is that the government is playing well at home but … Read more

“The prospect written between the lines of this week’s letter is of Sinn Féin sidelining itself….”

I Newton Emerson points out the irony of that letter Chris blogged the other day, signed by 200 members of nationalist civil society. “We appeal urgently to you Taoiseach,” it concludes, “and to the Irish Government, to reassure us of your commitment to stand for equality and a human-rights based society and your determination to secure and protect the rights of all citizens in the North of Ireland. ” Varadkar’s office responded promptly by saying the way to address these issues … Read more

‘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 … Read more

We are so used to seeing Northern Ireland politics as a zero-sum game that it’s hard to acknowledge a political deal which might benefit everyone.

Jon Tonge is a Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of The Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. We are so used to seeing Northern Ireland politics as a zero-sum game that it’s hard to acknowledge a political deal which might benefit everyone. That might partially explain why the endorsement of Friday’s Phase 1 Brexit agreement. Amid the ambiguity and verbiage what was tentatively and sensibly proposed was a … Read more