Behind the alarmist noises, the UK and the EU have the basis of a deal. It will be criminal if they fail

16 May

David Frost and Michel Barnier standing together ( just about) Lurking not far behind Covid is the self inflicted crisis over the next stage of Brexit.  To many including me, the prospect of a border at the Irish Sea is as revolting as a  physical border on the island of Ireland. It’s no consolation that there’s a disconnect between the political rhetoric and what’s actually happening on the ground. The government has privately conceded there will be post-Brexit checks on …

Read more…Behind the alarmist noises, the UK and the EU have the basis of a deal. It will be criminal if they fail

Victory for the de Souzas and for Irish citizens’ immigration rights: a battle that should never have needed to be fought

15 May

Yet another example of ignorance of Northern Ireland affairs in different parts of the UK government. Derry born Emma de Souza has won her three year battle to allow her American husband Jake to live with her, an Irish citizen in Northern Ireland, without having to renounce her birthright as a British citizen which she doesn’t want to exercise. She wants to bring him in under EU therefore Irish not UK immigration laws. Her victory is a triumph of principle …

Read more…Victory for the de Souzas and for Irish citizens’ immigration rights: a battle that should never have needed to be fought

There is more than one vision of a new Ireland

12 May

I’ve yet to read Paul Gosling’s book with the vaultingly ambitious yet carefully ambiguous title “A New Ireland: a new Union, a New Society. “  Judging from the discussion and its antecedents from the Holywell Trust, it makes an important contribution to enriching the debate on the future of the island.  But the logic of ideas seldom reproduces easily in politics. Political will is something else entirely. Broadly there are two contrasting approaches to the future: to follow the logic …

Read more…There is more than one vision of a new Ireland

Another case of perverse British exceptionalism rumbled late?

8 May

Peter Donaghy  vindicated! An FT exclusive picked up by the Guardian.. The government has left open the prospect of ditching its own contact-tracing app in favour of the “decentralised” model favoured by Apple and Google after it was revealed that a feasibility study into such a change is under way. After repeated warnings that the UK will be an outlier if it insists on using its own centralised app rather than relying on Google and Apple’s technology, rights groups and MPs said …

Read more…Another case of perverse British exceptionalism rumbled late?

The stand off over the Ireland/NI protocol is a model of cooperation compared to Covid planning

7 May

A few days ago, naively perhaps, I wondered why north and south weren’t cooperating actively over Covid 19, especially when a memo of understanding had been signed between the two public  health authorities at the end of March . After all ” North –South”  is one of those pillars of the GFA that are almost a religion albeit a neglected  one. Surely Covid created ideal circumstances for holding a big revival. Across the water, one of the pieties of the …

Read more…The stand off over the Ireland/NI protocol is a model of cooperation compared to Covid planning

Why the wall of silence over north-south Covid cooperation?

5 May

Whatever the reliability of the figures, it seems possible  that the Republic has been managing  Covid 19 better – or has been luckier- than Northern Ireland. Whether this can be accounted for by the incubus of UK delay and the complexity of a bigger country with an older average population will emerge from the inevitable spate of inquiries. But north -south coordination and  cooperation over phasing out lockdown would seem to be essential. And yet so little has emerged about …

Read more…Why the wall of silence over north-south Covid cooperation?

Boris Johnson’s perversity on the Brexit cliff edge reminds me of the Free State’s rejection of all things British

30 Apr

Warrenpoint Harbour The UK’s stubbornly negative  approach to future relations within the EU reminds me of the newborn Free State’s attitude to Britain after the trauma of independence. They can’t wait to be rid of even the symbols as well as the substance of the former power even  to the extent of trying to deny the facts of mutual interdependence particularly over the economy. Granted there are vital differences. No blood has been spilled over Brexit and… I was going …

Read more…Boris Johnson’s perversity on the Brexit cliff edge reminds me of the Free State’s rejection of all things British

Emma De Souza: a solution?

29 Apr

As we drift through another week in lockdown, it’s hard to believe that there’s anything else to discuss apart from Coronavirus. Thankfully, Northern Ireland’s unique brand of identity politics stops for no pandemic. Cast your mind back to last year and the case of Emma De Souza. I wrote about it here. Mrs De Souza’s case concerns Article 1(vi) of the British-Irish Agreement. That section states that the two governments recognise the right of: ‘…..the people of Northern Ireland to …

Read more…Emma De Souza: a solution?

Liberté, égalité, and a Secular Ireland…

3 Apr

In France they have a law which has its written roots in 1905 but the principles steam back to the 1790 revolution which saw ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ emblazoned into the national character and constitution of this large European nation. The law is called laïcité and it is at serious odds with Anglo-Saxon inherited concepts of what it is to be tolerant within a community. So much of our own understanding of modern Europe and modern Ireland stem from the thinking … Read more

There’s more to it than polling. Ireland needs more than one choice of political future.

9 Mar

Although Irish unity has been a common obsession for more a century we can only marvel at how little it has been considered as a realistic proposition. In the Republic Sinn Fein’s surge at the general election has promoted it to a higher but still uncertain place in an agenda preoccupied with economic reform.  In the GFA, the issue was from the start insulated from what really mattered at the time, the  winning of the peace and the  effective operation … Read more

Opinion on a border poll ” on a knife edge” – the latest from The Detail

24 Feb

Here we go again.  Just a bit of cross posting here to draw attention m to a special edition of The Detail, about a border poll. The comment is based a Lucid Talk opinion poll conducted north and south, showing opinion “ on a knife edge” –   46.8%  to stay in the UK and 45.4 % for a United Ireland. The disparity now among three polls in succession can partly be accounted for by different methodology, this one on line, … Read more

Fraught Anglo-Irish relations are about to get tenser

18 Feb

Leo Varadkar was attacked by some Brexiters for ‘anti-British’ rhetoric. Patrick Holden (University of Plymouth) finds that Varadkar’s language was no more emotional than that of his predecessor, Enda Kenny, though he was more outspoken about the contradictions of the British position. If Sinn Féin now enter the Irish government, Anglo-Irish tensions may continue to rise. … Continued

Sinn Fein deserve their chance to satisfy the huge expectations their victory has aroused

11 Feb

Let’s stand back. With just one seat fewer than Fianna Fail but with quotas to spare, Sinn Fein’s claim to have gained the moral advantage has credibility in spades.  Another reading is just possible. The two centrist parties outnumber them by rather less than 2 to 1. Twice in France the  right and left  united to defeat the far right, once by joining together and last time by forming a new political party to achieve the desired result.  But France … Read more