Political ferment is reflected in the GFA junketings, but no sign of a breakthrough

Will the DUP and Sinn Fein pay any attention to the eloquent pleas of the elder statesmen to return to the Executive?  On the surface the answer appears to be no, unless something is going on behind the scenes we don’t know about. Local politics suffers from elder statesperson fatigue. This generation has learned how to take in their stride the high sounding generalities from popes, presidents and prime ministers past and present.  The shock of the new wore off … Read more

GFA 20 Years On: A Community Reflects

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD will be in West Belfast next Tuesday, 10th April, to deliver a keynote opening address at a Féile an Phobail event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The event, titled ‘The Good Friday Agreement 20 Years On: A Community Reflects’ will take place in St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road beginning at 8.45am, and will also feature keynote speeches and contributions by former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, … Read more

Dublin not expected to use their “border veto” against a transition deal for the UK

Brexit talks will become more intensive over the next six months and will feature a greater focus in the Irish border, according to the EU side.  This week looks likes providing one of those so-called crunch moments when a key Brexit decision is reached in black and white but with grey edges.  The UK are hoping for agreement on a transition period longer than December 2020 as currently mooted,  during  which the UK would pay full EU budgetary contributions. The … Read more

Brexit latest sees Coveney urging more clarity with Dodds asking for more logic

The Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney appeared on the Andrew Marr Show this morning to speak about his response to Theresa May’s speech on Friday about the UK’s future partnership with the European Union. Some of his remarks are below; “It is a very complex thing for Britain to leave the EU… when you add in a fragile peace process this is a significant responsibility for the British government and I’m glad the PM made that clear in her speech” … Read more

Both sides are now playing politics with the border


Theresa May must have been desperate to have signed the joint Report in December. She did so, knowing that it would do little but buy time before the next elemental clash, and focusing on  contradictory positions over the border. The price of a deal would then increase, just like a loan from a money shark. He didn’t force her to take out a loan, now did he? But those are the terms, dear. And so  today’s draft withdrawal Agreement which the EU have just published came as no surprise.

You’ll recall that Arlene Foster finally let May go ahead to sign the Report at the second attempt after  requiring   a cardinal tenet of unionism to be included, that no economic border would  come between NI and GB.  Foster in her statement added the rider that “more work is needed.”  But now she may be ruing the day she was so accommodating, not a position she often holds. For “more work” in DUP terms was never done.   Today Foster could only declare the draft “constitutionally unacceptable and economic catastrophic.”

It turns out those assurances were worth even less than the paper they were written on. As we reported yesterday they’re absent from the final text. This is because they were written off as a mere internal affair between the UK government and the DUP and not a matter for a lofty EU legal document.

.The status recommended for Northern Ireland is bound to raise Unionist and Tory hackles by  removing one of the usual planks of sovereignty, the main trading and border policies,  without seeking permission from the people who live there .  The Brexit cry “Taking back control” rings very hollow here. But in the end they can’t be serious. This draft is Operation Hope Not.

In cold print the EU paper really does remove traditional aspects of sovereignty which in EU parlance was pooled.

Read moreBoth sides are now playing politics with the border

Former 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

Pressure to resume the responsibilities of government is not a winning card

So how are the prospects for the talks being trailed?   Are three women, Arlene, Michelle and late  joiner Karen are up the creek with Simon but without a paddle? Or will they brave the towering waves of cynicism to ride them out and make it home  to everyone’s  huge surprise? Karen – as we must get used to calling the secretary of state for the time being -, repeats the standard stale brief, that agreement is close if only.. She … 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

“For me to refuse to talk about these things when I’m asked a straight question almost suggests I’m ashamed to be a nationalist – and I’m not”

The Irish News Political Correspondent, John Manley has a really interesting interview with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney which outlines his views on a border poll and a United Ireland. In the interview he says; “I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime – if possible, in my political lifetime,” Manley does not that Coveney was disappointed that his evidence to the Good Friday Agreement committee was focused mainly on his comments in this area. But … Read more

Coveney “There can be no British-only direct rule. That is the Irish Government’s position”

The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney met representatives from the main parties at Stormont today in order to resolve the current impasse between the main parties. His comments are noteworthy as the focus turns towards Direct Rule. From an RTE report; Mr Coveney said there were still grounds for optimism and direct rule should still be avoided. “There can be no British-only direct rule. That is the Irish Government’s position.” Mr Coveney added: “It would be very difficult to … Read more

Coveney “Continued membership of this Customs Union and Single Market,or something very like it, is the answer”

The Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney addressed the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce this morning about Brexit and some of the British government proposals.   In his remarks he urged the UK to remain in the Single Market; Simply put, EU Member States will not countenance a partnership which allows the UK to benefit from full EU access while cutting separate deals with countries that don’t share our standards or systems. And that has obvious implications on this island. For … Read more

What do Leo and Simon have to say about the North?

Issues Leo Varadkar Simon Coveney United Ireland Believes in preparing for Shared Sovereignty or a United Ireland.   However says it needs support in both communities.   Opposes Border Poll now Wants a White Paper on Irish unity drafted by November 2017.   Supports establishment of an All Ireland Forum in 2018.   Opposes Border Poll now. North-South relations Supports good relations and commits to help restoring the Executive. Wants joint Dail Committee to examine possibilities for North-South relations. Brexit … Read more

Varadkar v Coveney for the Fine Gael Leadership

The deadline for nominations have passed and there are two confirmed candidates for the job with Minister’s Simon Coveney & Leo Varadkar in the race to replace Enda Kenny as Fine Gael Leader. How does the process work? Each of the candidates has been nominated by at least 10% of the Parliamentary Party (PP), comprised of TDs, Senators and MEPs. The process for electing the next Leader of Fine Gael is defined in Rule 49 of the Fine Gael Constitution … Read more

Irish Agriculture Minister: “I am seriously concerned about this development…”

I haven’t been posting on every twist and turn  [Not “an isolated instance“, then? – Ed] of the still unravelling story of the Europe-wide horse meat for beef scandal.  But this looks like it could be a significant development.  From the RTÉ report A processing plant in Co Tipperary has been shut down after inspectors found it was exporting horse meat under a label in the Czech language which translated as beef. B&F Meats, a small-scale deboning factory in Carrick-on-Suir was selling a … Read more

Is there an unregulated trade in horsemeat in Northern Ireland?

Now, here’s a thing. Mary Creagh has set some ferocious cats amongst the local pigeons [You do mean harses don’t ya? – Ed]. She alone of politicians with any local interest, has been listening to the concerns of the USPCA: “The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have clear evidence of an illegal trade of unfit horses from Ireland to the UK for meat, with horses being re-passported to meet demands for horse meat in mainland Europe. “It says that … Read more

Simon Coveney breaks the news of horse meat found in Newry plant…

Last night, Simon Coveney was on Prime Time (4 minutes in) with Miriam O’Callaghan. Coveney is Agriculture Minister for the Republic but he is also chair of all the agriculture ministers across Europe just now by dint of Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union. He’s clearly in a very hot seat just now, and accordingly gave an account of an investigation that has narrowed the problem down to just two producers. Indeed, it was Coveney (and not the northern Agriculture … Read more

Simon Coveney to address the DUP…

cropped DUP logo

And here’s a first, a Fine Gaeler, indeed a southern Minister of any description, is to address the DUP party conference for the first time ever… The rational is intesting, a commonality of interests in Europe around CAP: Diane Dodds MEP said it was important to engage with “all actors within the Common Agricultural Policy reform process . . . Simon Coveney has over the last number of months prepared himself for the task ahead. He has visited other parts … Read more