Leo Varadkar: “we need to build more bridges and fewer borders”

LEO VARADKAR delivered a robust but polite lecture at Queen’s University Belfast this morning, his first public engagement in Northern Ireland in his new role as Taoiseach. The artfully crafted speech quoted local poets and Winston Churchill as well as ending with a positive story that echoed something he’d recently heard Jeffrey Donaldson say in Dublin. This was not a speech that intended to be divisive. It offered a partial policy framework, but very little in the way of absolute red lines or dogmatic solutions. However, they were definitely not the words of a political pushover.

“The Irish Government will not be negotiating on behalf of Northern Ireland”

In case you were wondering what the Brexit ’10-point plan’ was that the BBC reported the North South Ministerial Council agreed today, it’s in the final joint communique of 4th July [pdf file] FINANCIAL AND EU MATTERS [Implications of UK Referendum] 8. The Council had a detailed discussion on the potential impact of the UK referendum result to leave the EU. In order to optimise joint planning and engagement on key issues arising following the UK referendum result, the NSMC: … Read more

Taoiseach on Border Poll: “There are much more serious issues to deal with in the immediate terms and that is where our focus is.”

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was, rightly, quick to dismiss Sinn Féin’s attempted distraction predictably opportunistic call for a border poll following the EU referendum result.  Here’s what she told Radio Ulster listeners “The Good Friday Agreement sets out the conditions under which I am required to call for a border poll – those are when I believe that there’s a reasonable likelihood that there would be a majority for a united Ireland,” [Theresa Villiers] said. “There’s nothing to … Read more

Cartoon – Liquidity crisis

Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Irish Government does have detailed documents around the bank guarantee scheme after all…

One for the archives, I guess. The Journal have had some information given them by Fianna Fail, which seems to run contrary to the Taoiseach’s claim that there are no documents in his possession which explain the rationale of the bank guarantee scheme that was rushed through the Dail in September 2008… Of the 146 documents 106 have been withheld, 31 have been released in full and four have been partially released. Many of the records are withheld under section … Read more

“There are sometimes occasions when frank disagreements arise between states…”

After meeting with the Finucane family to discuss the UK government’s decision “to conduct an independent review to produce a full public account of any state involvement in the murder”, rather than open an inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act, UTV reports Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore’s comments Speaking after a meeting with the Finucane family on Monday afternoon he said: “There are sometimes occasions when frank disagreements arise between states. “This is one on this occasion.” …… Mr … Read more

Judge Smithwick: “I think this was singularly ill-advised.”

I had mentioned the apparent disagreement between the chair of the Smithwick Tribunal, Judge Smithwick, and the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, over the latter’s proposed ‘deadline’, of 30 November, for the Tribunal’s final report. And in correspondence from the time, just released to the Oireachtas along with the Tribunal’s interim report [pdf file], Judge Smithwick made clear the extent of his disagreement. Judge Smithwick wrote to the Minister accusing him of a “wholly inappropriate” attempt to “interfere with the independence” of the inquiry. He … Read more

Smithwick Tribunal: “It is understood the tribunal chairman is concerned about the deadline”

According to the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, speaking to the BBC on Thursday – about the Irish Government setting the Smithwick Tribunal a ‘deadline’ of 30 November for its final report. [Irish Justice Minister Alan] Shatter said the November deadline was not set in stone. “We’ve been informed by the tribunal chairman that he believes the tribunal will be in a position to do that, but should it emerge that there’s a difficulty in that regard, of course, we’ll revisit the matter,” he … Read more

Euro crisis: “categorically there will be absolutely no bailout next year in Ireland”

A series of Irish government ministers have been clarifying their position after the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, appeared to suggest that a second bail-out could be required for Ireland next year. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan “The programme is due to run until the end of 2013 and the start of 2014 and there is sufficient money in the programme to meet all eventualities so categorically there will be absolutely no bailout next year in Ireland,” Mr Noonan stated. “The … Read more

“I hope the people of Ireland will give him a brilliant and wonderful welcome…”

Another post possibly related to the point Mick was making…  As the BBC notes US President Barack Obama will not cross the border into Northern Ireland when he visits the Republic of Ireland, the Irish prime minister has said. From the breakingnews.ie report The Government is gearing up for the historic May visit after President Obama announced on St Patrick’s Day that he wanted to return to his roots in Moneygall, Co Offaly. But the Taoiseach said that under diplomatic rules … Read more

Euro crisis: “If Portugal asks, we will be ready to intervene…”

To the apparent outrage of some, last night Taoiseach Enda Kenny agreed to defer seeking a conclusion to talks on reducing Ireland’s bail-out interest rate at the two-day EU summit in Brussels.  At the IIEA blog, Karl Whelan argued After a lot of fighting talk about renegotiation during the recent election campaign, the new Irish leader Enda Kenny probably feels a certain amount of pressure to come home from this summit with a deal on the interest rate. My advice, for what … Read more

“The result is a crisis in European democracy”

On the back of a survey of more than 5,000 people of working age in the UK, Germany, France, Poland and Spain, the Guardian editorialises on the future of the EU.  They’re promising a month long series of articles mapping out the social, political and economic terrain.  From the Guardian editorial The poll we publish today is taken from a sample of more than 5,000 people of working age in the five leading EU states – Britain, France, Germany, Spain and … Read more

“Corporation tax is now mentioned as a quid pro quo”

Encouraging noises are one thing, but at the first EU late nighter of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s tenure the BBC reports some possibly premature tweeting from EU President Herman Van Rompuy. In a message on Twitter, Mr Van Rompuy had initially said: “We have an agreement on the Pact for Euro.” The message was later amended to: “Update from ongoing meeting: Agreement in principle on the Pact for the Euro, but still discussing the other elements of the package.” A pact would … Read more

Enda Kenny: “He doth like the ape…”

Your captions please… Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

Rehn: “I expect this issue of pricing policy will be looked at from the overall European perspective…”

The European Union’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, has been making somewhat encouraging noises  [for the new Irish government] ahead of a series of key European meetings for the incoming Taoiseach. From the Irish Times breaking news report “We look forward to continue supporting the Irish people and the next Irish government in the implementation of the EU- IMF program, which is key for Ireland’s economy and its revival,” Mr Rehn told reporters in Brussels. “We have the common … Read more

“Yet another crucial moment in the debt drama is upon us.”

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today, including caretaking Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and the Irish Times‘ Derek Scally has had sight of a draft paper on Frau Bundeskanzlerin’s “grand bargain”. From the Irish Times report The draft paper is low on detail but high on ambition: “to create a permanent connection between European competitiveness, growth and viable financial politics”. After presenting the broad brush strokes today, Dr Merkel wants EU leaders to discuss the detail and fill in the canvas by … Read more

All political business done; Cowen goes to the Aras

So this afternoon we’ll get to know the date set by Fianna Fail for the next Irish General Election. Mr Cowen bows out of politics, but apparently bequeaths his substantial local Offaly inheritance to his brother Barry, who will go head to head with Councillor John Foley. (See the Irish Times for a current list of TDs who will definitely not be back). Meantime, Micheal Martin almost gets to pull the stroke that brought down his soon to be erstwhile … Read more

Ministers desert Cowen’s Restaurant at the end of the Universe…

Just in passing Brian Cowen’s government appears to be in free fall as four members of his cabinet have added their resignations to that of Micheal Martin. All of them were retiring from the Dail at the next election, and therefore have nothing to lose from their actions. Update: Dempsey’s just said on Morning Ireland, Cowen asked for his resignations. So it is a stroke. Or an attempt at one. Un-named FF backbencher has said its probably safer where he … Read more