Singing the (Good Friday) Agreement: peace in 4/4 time … only at the Imagine! Belfast Festival (Monday 23 March)

19 Feb

SLUGGER EVENT. We’ve implemented it, ignored it and extended it, but never before in Northern Ireland has it been sung! But on the opening night of Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas & Politics, you can settle down in Accidental Theatre to hear singers from Spark Opera perform the local première of a choral setting of the Declaration of Support at the start of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement text. But don’t worry, we know that “singing the d’Hondt formula would just be weird”! Alongside the music will be a politician discussing what it was like to be inside the talks in Castle Buildings and as well as a journalist who anchored hours and hours of the rolling late-night TV coverage that accompanied the negotiations. An evening of nostalgia and reflection.

The Irish Government now ought to prioritise securing a swift UK-EU Free Trade Agreement

9 Jan

Following the expected ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by the new Parliament in London and the European Parliament, almost immediately the issue of the longer-term trade and economic relationship will come into focus. The issues, which dogged the withdrawal discussions, will again re-emerge. This is especially true in relation to the Irish border. It is […]

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Rewarding the centre: Positive-sum, cross-community politics

20 Dec

James Devlin is a postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway. The recent general election results were marked by the high positive swing to the Alliance party. Alliance were rewarded with one seat, came within 2000 votes of a second, and increased their share of the vote by approximately 10%, including in areas where they have previously struggled. In doing so, Alliance affirmed their performance in the recent European elections, confirming a general swing in Northern Ireland towards the centre, driven by … Read more

If he wins a majority, Boris Johnson would be well-placed to play hardball with the EU in negotiating the future relationship

31 Oct

Does Boris Johnson’s deal Take Back Control of our borders, our laws, our trade and our money? Yes, on balance it does, despite the doubts. After the transition period we leave the Single Market and Customs Union, can cut tariffs, negotiate trade deals and change our own rules, regulations and taxes. We will have our […]

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The legal way to exit the EU by 31st October is through a transition in the EEA

8 Oct

It is just possible as of today that by 17th/18th October at the European Council meeting, using perhaps even its well-tried mechanism of stopping the clock, an agreement on a EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 can be achieved and the UK leaves the EU on 31st October with Conservative, DUP, some Labour and Independent […]

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Bonnie Greer’s intervention on Brexit and Ireland last week was spectacularly ill-judged

5 Oct

It’s hard to be surprised by anything surrounding Brexit these days, but sure enough the BBC did their best last week. This time it was the turn of playwright Bonnie Greer to weigh in on the debate as a panellist on this week’s edition of Question Time. What followed was fitting of an Alanis Morrisette […]

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How to protect both the UK border and EU Single Market in a post-Brexit world

5 Oct

Further to this piece of 19th September investigating the risk of increased smuggling across the Irish border after Brexit, we set out below a legally operable cross-agency operational plan to be established between the Customs and Enforcement Agencies of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union to protect both the EU Single Market and […]

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Boris Johnson’s alternative to the backstop explained

4 Oct

Since Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech, the position of the UK government has been that the UK should be outside the single market and the customs union after Brexit. At the same time, the UK government has committed to protecting the Good Friday Agreement by not accepting any physical infrastructure at the Irish land border. As a result, the Brexit […]

Boris Johnson’s new Brexit offer to Jean-Claude Juncker

2 Oct

What follows is the text of the letter Boris Johnson has today sent to Jean-Claude Juncker, setting out the UK Government’s proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland A FAIR AND REASONABLE COMPROMISE: UK PROPOSALS FOR A NEW PROTOCOL ON IRELAND/NORTHERN IRELAND Dear Jean-Claude, There is now very little time in which to negotiate […]

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Some special Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland are likely – but the backstop was always a questionable solution

30 Sep

Is there an alternative to the Irish backstop? Even before the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised last year this question has been central to the Brexit debate. The EU and the Irish Government have insisted on the backstop as a guarantee of maintaining an open border in Ireland. Although they have pledged to look at alternative […]

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It’s time for some perspective to replace the Operation Yellowhammer hysteria

14 Sep

We are inured by now to the biased reporting of Brexit which those opposed to it perpetrate in the media. Even so, I listened with more than the usual incredulity and irritation to one BBC correspondent giving his opinion on the Operation Yellowhammer papers (a five-page out-of-date summary of the Government’s Reasonable Worst Case Planning […]

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How to fix the Brexit deal so a sovereign UK can agree a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU

2 Sep

The next week in Parliament is bound to be tumultuous, but I believe all MPs should remember that some of us have spent the summer fashioning the tools to enable the United Kingdom and the EU to agree a deal. In July, the Prosperity-UK Alternative Arrangements Commission – for which I chair the 20-strong panel […]

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Theresa May fell into the traps set by the EU and caved into their demands

26 Aug

The failure (thus far) to implement the people’s wishes on Brexit must be the greatest cock-up in British history. It has created a political mess in which we wallow while the world laughs. So it’s worthwhile to ask what went wrong and learn the lessons. We wasn’t just robbed. We failed incompetently. Brexiteers assumed that it would […]

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Boris Johnson’s appointment should prompt Leo Varadkar to reset the Irish Government’s Brexit stance

26 Jul

Last weekend Northern Ireland played host to the British Open for the first time since 1948. Irishman Shane Lowry won emphatically and as the week rolled on, the congratulations continued to roll in for the Offaly man. Naturally our media-savvy Taoiseach was quick with the praise and, as so often is the case, what was […]

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