Partition at 100: the British Problem

Northern Ireland and its history have fascinated me continuously pretty much ever since I first learned how to use an atlas when I was a kid. Looking at political maps, I would internally wonder why this corner of the island of Ireland was a different colour from the rest – though it took me a little longer to query what a “political map” was, and what a “relief map” was, and what exactly is so “relieving” about seeing the outlines …

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It’s strictly dancing up to the Brexit deadline. Meanwhile “the border in the Irish Sea” takes shape in Northern Ireland

Archbishops’ letter image. FT  The  off- on- off again  dance around the final stages of Brexit negotiations is taking place against  a mounting clamour of confusion and anger over the crazy politics  including the real implications of the threatened No Deal, about which the UK government postures so insouciantly. UK in a Changing Europe think tank says their modelling with the LSE of the impact of a no-deal Brexit suggests the total cost to the UK economy over the longer …

Read more…It’s strictly dancing up to the Brexit deadline. Meanwhile “the border in the Irish Sea” takes shape in Northern Ireland

Boris says to prepare for a no deal Brexit….

From Sky News: Boris Johnson says it’s time to “get ready” for the prospect of no free trade deal with the EU on 1 January. The prime minister claimed Brussels had “abandoned” the ambition but insisted “we always knew there would be change” next year once the tradition period ends “whatever type of relationship we had”. Speaking from Downing Street after an EU summit both sides said was the deadline for hammering out a trade deal, Mr Johnson said it …

Read more…Boris says to prepare for a no deal Brexit….

It looks like a deal but what sort of deal? And it’ll go down to the wire

The idea of  extended deadlines right  down to a supposed last minute  will hardly surprise anybody in Northern Ireland. We’ve lived with them for a generation. Taking a tour round comment on the Brexit cliffhanger, the prospects for a deal are  looking good. British predictions of  going to the wire for  a decision by the big beasts of Merkel and Macron look like being fulfilled. But that doesn’t mean an optimal deal for British interests. From Peston The odds of …

Read more…It looks like a deal but what sort of deal? And it’ll go down to the wire

Notes of optimism from London about the Brexit talks are treated cautiously in Brussels and Dublin. Whatever happens, Northern Ireland won’t be ready

Briefing on the Brexit negotiations is growing more intense.  From the British side, hopes of a breakthrough are reported by the political editor of the Spectator James Forsyth.  Inevitably  this translates into a British claim that the EU are at last bending on their hitherto implacable insistence on  full  UK compliance with the Withdrawal Agreement including the Protocol, and the withdrawal  of the offending parts of the Internal Market Bill. The EU side are briefing differently but not quite incompatibly; …

Read more…Notes of optimism from London about the Brexit talks are treated cautiously in Brussels and Dublin. Whatever happens, Northern Ireland won’t be ready

Why can’t the Johnson government see that pure parliamentary sovereignty is incompatible with the survival of the UK?

Fintan O’Toole has written another of his entertaining essays trying to get to the bottom of why the UK and the English in particular are behaving like lemmings throwing themselves over a cliff over Brexit.   In the Irish Times today he comes with up “England as Ireland.” The big problem with English nationalism is that it is naïve. Because it has been buried for centuries under two layers of disguise – the United Kingdom and the British Empire – it …

Read more…Why can’t the Johnson government see that pure parliamentary sovereignty is incompatible with the survival of the UK?

This is the very moment to speak out against the old Wolfe Tone trope, that Britain is the source of all Irish ills

Demo in Place de la Républic, Paris   As is  only to be expected, Chris Donnelly in the Irish News plays the full anti imperialist card against the UK, without regard to variations of interpretation.  He uses a French quotation approvingly as if the  French were purely the  idealists of the Rights of Man and that the revolution  had no downside such as the ruinous attempt to conquer all Europe and the French Empire never existed. All major states were born …

Read more…This is the very moment to speak out against the old Wolfe Tone trope, that Britain is the source of all Irish ills

Unionism: so what’s the plan ?

The BBC reports this evening the following remarks from DUP North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley: Northern Ireland will not be used as a pawn – we opposed the withdrawal agreement, we warned about this protocol, we said it would damage the integrity. “I am glad, maybe at the last minute, the PM has wakened up to the serious threat that this poses to the union,” he said. “If the prime minister has the mettle to finish the job I welcome …

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Boris Johnson has thrown everything up in the air. The EU has to bring them down to earth

The roller coaster continues. In its story today the Times slips in unattributably Johnson’s terms for a deal. The right of government  to subsidise company development  is the Trojan horse  that has emerged as the biggest obstacle to a deal because it continues to apply to GB as  well as NI,  leaving a remnant of  EU regulation at the heart of the UK that the sovereignty zealots find intolerable.  On this apparently esoteric topic depends much of the future character …

Read more…Boris Johnson has thrown everything up in the air. The EU has to bring them down to earth

Shock tactics won’t help, but they needn’t kill all hopes of reaching a final Brexit deal

I don’t doubt that UK ministers want a free trade deal and more  with the EU. But rather than agree a comprehensive deal on what they regard as the EU terms, they are insisting on defining the terms of resumed British sovereignty first and proposing to bounce their unilateral decisions off the EU case by case as issues arise.  The procedure for this is the EU/UK joint committee created by the Withdrawal Agreement which is meeting today. There is also …

Read more…Shock tactics won’t help, but they needn’t kill all hopes of reaching a final Brexit deal

Pause a moment. Could Johnson just pull it off?

The Protocol is a pawn on a bigger game;  to remove any trace of involvement by the European Court of Justice in ruling on applications for state aid for ailing or new industries . While that would remain the rule for Northern Ireland firms, it leeches into GB firms who invest or have branches in the North. And that breaches a cardinal Leave principle, of no involvement by the Court in GB affairs. There is surely another a Leave issue …

Read more…Pause a moment. Could Johnson just pull it off?

‘It is absolutely crazy to think that constitutional change in Ireland would happen overnight’

Consideration of Irish unity needs careful preparation, argues Seamus McGuinness, research professor at the Republic’s Economic and Social Research Institute. He suggests looking to the example of Hong Kong, where the handover of control was undertaken over a 13 year period. Seamus was talking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.  The difference in economic performance, North and South, sits “at the centre of debate around constitutional change,” believes Seamus. “I come at it from the perspective of someone who worked …

Read more…‘It is absolutely crazy to think that constitutional change in Ireland would happen overnight’

#InConversation Podcast with Michael McCoy. From the Ormeau Road to Tokyo and other tales…

Michael is a regular in the comments, I thought to myself a chat with a Belfast guy who now lives in Japan would make a great podcast. Originally from the Ormeau Road in Belfast, Michael McCoy has lived in Japan for the past 30 years where he works as an executive coach. In this conversation, we discuss growing up in Belfast in the 1970s as well as getting his take on Brexit and what we need to do to stimulate …

Read more…#InConversation Podcast with Michael McCoy. From the Ormeau Road to Tokyo and other tales…

Northern Ireland’s future demands new energy and ideas from the BBC

Denis Bradley writing in the Irish News The atmosphere that has been nurtured on BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle since the peace process has driven away more voices than it has attracted. Only the most vocal of our politicians are regulars. Most clerics avoid it like the plague. Key personnel in many of our most important institutions never appear, most likely out of fear. Many do not feel equipped to partake in an atmosphere that is not always conducive to …

Read more…Northern Ireland’s future demands new energy and ideas from the BBC

Why is the UK sleepwalking into final Brexit chaos and towards breakup?

As the notional deadline of October for final Brexit negotiations draws ever closer, the clouds if anything are growing darker. The UK’s statements on their withdrawal position and the NI protocol have clarified very little. Johnson and co seem like General de Gaulle in 1940, holding out for an impossible position of victory against the odds. But at least de Gaulle had allies. A City University webinar I linked up with yesterday confirmed growing pessimism over Northern Ireland prospects.( video …

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It would be a mistake for Unionists to seek terms for Irish unity now. There’s a bigger future to discuss

The time, therefore, has finally come for unionists, particularly those in Northern Ireland, to consider the terms on which they could tolerate, if not accept, a united Ireland… On the eve of Northern Ireland’s centenary next May, Unionism needs to form an assembly of its own to answer that question. So what should unionism demand in exchange for its tolerance of unification? First, let’s acknowledge that unionism holds a pretty decent hand should it care to play it: the knowledge …

Read more…It would be a mistake for Unionists to seek terms for Irish unity now. There’s a bigger future to discuss

Is Now The Right Time for Brexit?

If Covid 19 has taught us one thing, we are not ready for a crisis to be sprung upon us. Stormont has been constantly criticised for its slow response, crucially regarding the PPE fiasco. The Brexit crisis however has been four years in the making meaning we should be preparing right? Recently some Northern Ireland MPs have advocated for a Brexit extension. However is Brexit at this time really a bad idea? As a pro European supporter I can be …

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Customs? Of course not.. but Checks are another matter. Is this what “frictionless” means?

The Guardian’s Lisa O’Caroll  has been leaked a “ sensitive”  HMRC paper  revealing that  “firms in Great Britain will be obliged to complete three rounds of customs, security and transit forms on all goods. The electronic documents will need to be completed whether there is a Brexit trade deal or not and will apply to all suppliers. Praising the Guardian for its revelations, the Alliance MP Stephen Farry tweets:  UKG should be providing such info directly. This document only addresses some of the …

Read more…Customs? Of course not.. but Checks are another matter. Is this what “frictionless” means?

“No need for the talks to drag on to the autumn”.. but still the British are busking it

To return to the game of chicken with the EU..   Michael Gove.  The argument we’re making to the EU as well is, if you insist on significant new infrastructure and a significant new presence, what you will do is actually make the protocol less acceptable to the majority community in Northern Ireland and therefore you run the risk of the protocol being voted down in a future election,”  Michael  Gove  told the House of Commons Northern Ireland affairs committee. EU …

Read more…“No need for the talks to drag on to the autumn”.. but still the British are busking it

Despite the posturing brinkmanship, a deal with the EU is on the cards

I can’t think of a negotiation between governments anywhere, anytime in history where the suppliant used the threat to damage themselves as a negotiating ploy if they didn’t get their own way. Yet this has seemed to be Boris Johnson’s position as PM all along over Brexit.  First there was the about turn over the backstop to accept a harsher frontstop ( at least for Northern  Ireland);  giving the EU all they wanted in the withdrawal agreement and then pretending …

Read more…Despite the posturing brinkmanship, a deal with the EU is on the cards