North of Ireland unlikely to suffer Brexit rise in race hate attacks says senior police chief

Racist grafitti on a garage at Seapatrick, Banbridge in October 2017. Credit: Press Eye

THE number of racist attacks reported in Northern Ireland remains significantly lower than other UK regions – despite authorities fearing a fresh Brexit spike in hate crimes against migrant communities.

As we inch closer to a no-deal Brexit in the wake of this week’s defeat of the Prime Minister’s EU-UK deal, there are concerns it could heighten tensions.

Those fears increased in recent weeks following a loyalist attack on the Roma community in greater Belfast and the announcement that 1,000 police officers from England and Scotland could be deployed here if there is any Brexit related street disorder in the coming months.

However, an analysis of race hate figures indicates that – unlike other regions in the UK – Northern Ireland has not seen a rise in race hate attacks against ethnic minority communities since the vote to exit the European Union.

The Detail has looked at race hate crime statistics in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

These show that in the three months following the Brexit announcement in June 2016 police forces in England and Wales recorded a significant spike of 14,381 racist crimes. In contrast the number of PSNI recorded racist crimes in Northern Ireland for the same three month period in the summer of 2016 was 251.

Clearance levels of race hate crimes in Northern Ireland also remain significantly lower than those of other non-racially motivated crimes.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton credit: Irish News

PSNI assistant chief constable (ACC) Mark Hamilton is the UK’s most senior police officer in charge of tackling race hate crime.

In an interview with The Detail, he confirmed that police forces across the UK are now preparing for a potential spike in racial attacks ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU on March 29. However, he insists there is no available evidence to suggest that this will happen in Northern Ireland.

“The Brexit vote led to a spike in hate crime in England and Wales,” he said.

“The analysis would be that this came from people who supported the UK leaving the EU, so the day we leave the EU you might see similar, almost triumphalist, hate behaviour.”

ACC Hamilton is also fearful that some hard-line pro-Brexit elements could resort to violence against ethnic minority communities if the decision to withdraw from the EU is not in-acted on March 29.

“If the aspirations of those people on a UK-wide basis were not met, then given the pattern you saw when they got their aspiration, it’s not unreasonable to predict that you could have similar behaviour,” he said.

Despite an announcement earlier this month that 1,000 English and Scottish officers are to receive additional training in case they are needed to deal with civil disorder in Northern Ireland, ACC Hamilton does not believe their deployment will be necessary.

“At the present time, we do not have any reason to believe we will need to request mutual aid during 2019, but putting precautionary procedures in place for it is part of a sensible planning process.”

Hate Crimes/Incidents Motivation Recorded by RUC/PSNI Update to 30/09/18

TRUE FIGURES LIKELY TO BE HIGHER

PSNI statistics show that race hate has overtaken sectarian crime in Northern Ireland in recent years.

Since the UK vote to leave the EU in June 2016 there have been 2,093 recorded racist incidents in Northern Ireland. In the same period there were 1,773 recorded incidents of sectarianism across the north.

There are concerns that the true number of racially motivated attacks in Northern Ireland may be much higher.

Veteran human rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey works closely with migrant families in counties Tyrone and Armagh.

“Nobody has reliable statistics on racist attacks because there is no coherent standard reporting mechanism,” she said.

“Take racist graffiti painted on windows and walls of vacant houses. It is clearly racist behaviour. Immigrants are afraid to accept a tenancy. Private landlords are intimidated from offering properties (to ethnic minority families).”

However, Mrs McAliskey says the incidents are often recorded as anti-social crime rather than racially motivated attacks.

“Why? Nobody lives in the house, so no specific person has been attacked or victimised,” she said.

“It is anti-social behaviour! Is it a crime? If it is not a criminal offence in itself, it is not a hate-crime?

“I believe any behaviour which gives encouragement to racism should be dealt with as incitement, an offence in itself. At present, racist motive is only an aggravating factor in an existing criminal offence, hence, a hate-crime.”

Under-reporting of hate crimes means there could potentially have been up to 10,000 racist incidents in Northern Ireland since the Brexit vote compared to the 2,093 incidents recorded by the PSNI.

“We know it’s an under-reported crime. The national comparisons have been running around four to five times less reporting than the actual crimes reported to be,” ACC Hamilton said. “We haven’t got the same comparative figures for Northern Ireland, but I would expect them to be broadly similar.”

In England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes crime statistics based on a combination of non-police crime survey data and crime figures collated by police themselves.

While the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland publishes a similar crime survey, Mark Hamilton says the PSNI has no access to this data and reports only on its own crime figures.

“Like any crime figures, they’re based upon a lot of factors; whether or not we record them right, whether or not we ask the right questions; whether or not people actually report them and whether or not they’re actually occurring.

“It’s a very complex thing, which is why the non-police crime figures, which we look to nationally around crime survey data is so important.”

THE LAW IN NORTHERN IRELAND

While there are specific race hate offences available to police forces in England and Wales there are no similar specific racial offences available to the PSNI in Northern Ireland.

The senior police officer believes that race hate legislation in Northern Ireland needs to be brought into line with the rest of the UK.

“(If) somebody walks up to a black person in the street in England and assaults them and we believe that to demonstrate hostility because of their colour, that’s a specific offence – here it isn’t.

“Here it’s just an assault. Then we invite the court to consider the fact that it’s been aggravated by (hate).”

He added: “You have aggravated offences (in Northern Ireland), but the actual law doesn’t exist in statute, it doesn’t (state that) it is a racially motivated offence. We don’t have any of those.”

Hate Crimes/Incidents Motivation Recorded by RUC/PSNI Update to 30/09/18

He said that statistically women from migrant communities in Northern Ireland are more likely to be victims of racial attack than their male counterparts. The latest hate crime statistics recorded by the PSNI reveal that racially motivated attacks on females have risen from 30% of the total in 2007/08 to 40% in 2016/17.

Mark Hamilton also stated that race hate figures show that women from ethnic minority communities are more likely to face racial attack or abuse while using public transport.

He said that police chiefs would like to work more closely with transport providers on a dedicated strategy – “if we had the resources to deal with it.”

There is only one senior police officer in the whole of the UK tasked with working on race hate crime on a national basis.

The police oversight body, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC), recently published a series of recommendations as to how police forces across the UK could improve their handling of race hate crimes.

The man tasked with implementing these measures admits it’s unlikely that the majority of these recommendations will be achieved within the recommended six-month time frame.

ACC Hamilton added: “There are improvements that I can’t make because the national hate crime work is me and one other person. Every region will have officers – but the actual full-time work (nationally) is one person.”

PARAMILITARY LINKS

Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) deputy director Daniel Holder believes the way in which the PSNI records hate crime fails to identify paramilitary orchestration in racial attacks.

“There has long been an abundance of references, many from the PSNI itself, to involvement of elements of loyalist paramilitarism in racist attacks – yet at a strategic level there seems to be a decision to at best downplay the issue and do little about it,” he said.

“The issue of paramilitary involvement in race hate attacks was not identified in the Fresh Start Agreement’s ‘Tackling Paramilitarism Action Plan’ in 2016 or by the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) set up to monitor paramilitaries involvement in crime.”

However, ACC Hamilton said finding actual evidence of paramilitary orchestration of race hate attacks was difficult.

“Have I ever seen this notion of organised hate behaviour? No, I have never seen it.

“Are there people who are involved in hate crime in the communities who I would associate with paramilitary groups? Yes, I would, absolutely.

“How big is that problem? I don’t know. I can’t say that ‘x’ amount of these crimes we would say are definitely linked to paramilitaries, but the presence of paramilitaries in the community definitely exacerbates the problem in my view.”

ACC Hamilton says that while race hate also exists in the nationalist community, the vast majority of incidents occur in the loyalist community, with increasing attempts by far-right groups to find a foothold in Protestant areas.

“Most of the major race incidents that we have seen have occurred generally in loyalist areas.

“I think there is the link to the paramilitary groups, there will be overlaps of people in those areas who will be involved in paramilitarism and who will be involved in intolerance.

“You have historically seen links with right wing groups in other parts of the UK, Combat 18, and loyalism. You do see links to the extreme right and obviously there is no link in nationalism to the extreme right.”

He points to efforts by the ‘Britain First’ group to build support in loyalist areas of Ballymena and Newtownabbey.

“It doesn’t mean that there isn’t hate crime in nationalist areas – there clearly is. There’s lots of sectarianism and other types of hate just as prevalent.

“But that racial religious stuff seems to bubble up more in areas which people would identify as being loyalist more than anywhere else.”

Racist graffiti on walls of a house Wayland Street, Castlereagh Road, in East Belfast August 2013. Credit: Press Eye

87% OF RACE HATE CRIME GOES UNSOLVED IN NI

The latest PSNI statistics recorded until December 2018 show that only 12.6% of reported racially motivated crime is solved by the PSNI compared to 26.9% of reported non racially motivated crime.

ACC Hamilton admits more can be achieved in how race hate crimes are investigated – including the initial identification of racially motivated crime.

“There isn’t a police officer serving in the UK who hasn’t had hate crime training.

“Do they all understand the definition as I have explained it to you? I’m not confident that they all do. Do they all apply it even when they do understand it, as rigorously as I would want them to do? No.”

Despite the challenges of investigating race hate crime, ACC Hamilton remains upbeat that the PSNI continues to improve the quality of outcome for victims including recognition and recording of offences and ultimately investigation.

“I think we’re not as good as we want to be and I fully support the push towards improvement.

“The only consolation I would give people is that I do believe that it’s better here in the UK than it is anywhere else in the world.”

With many thanks to: The Detail and Barry McCaffrey for the original story

Brexit: No-deal insurance advice for North of Ireland mortorists

Northern Ireland motorists have been advised to carry an insurance document when crossing the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In new guidance, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said drivers should contact their insurer to arrange what is known as a “green card”.

It has warned that those who travel without one may be breaking the law.

The ABI warned that companies may apply a “small administrative charge” to issue green cards.

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An agreement was reached between European insurance authorities in May to waive the need for green cards but this has not been confirmed by the European Commission.

‘Month’s notice’
The ABI said therefore the industry was “planning on the basis of green cards being required”.

“Green cards would be required under EU regulations as proof of insurance if there was no deal,” the organisation said.

“The documents are supplied by your insurer and customers are advised to contact their insurer about a month before they travel to get one.”

It said that if people choose not to apply for a card, the only other legal option available would be to purchase insurance locally after crossing the border.

The ABI is the main trade body for the UK insurance industry.

It has more than 250 member companies, including most household names and specialist insurance providers.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

 

 

Brexit: The complex new boundaries between different groups of citizens in the North of Ireland

COUNTDOWN TO BREXIT

Deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)

Daniel Holder explains citizens’ rights post Brexit.

Discussion on Brexit and Northern Ireland has focused extensively on the potential hardening of the land border, or a border in the Irish Sea. However, beyond that are numerous questions as to the impact of Brexit on the entitlement-boundaries between different groups of people born or living in Northern Ireland depending on their citizenship status.

As is known in Northern Ireland citizenship is, in part, an expression of national identity. It is also about the relationship between a citizen and State and their rights and entitlements when they interface with public authorities.

This is complex as many rights and entitlements are not dependent on citizenship. Human rights (e.g. fair trial) as the name suggests, are usually not citizens’ rights. Some entitlements are based on residency. (E.g. full NHS medical care is generally based upon lawful ‘ordinary residence’ not nationality). In recent times entitlements to work, many public services and social security have increasingly been restricted by citizenship and related immigration status.

The graphic below covers three key areas of entitlements:

Rights to reside, work and access services and benefits when in Northern Ireland.
Basic freedom of movement in the EU.
Subsidiary EU rights, such as being joined by (non-EU) family members, qualification recognition or access to health care in other EU states.
As things stand there are generally two citizenship status categories:

Pre-Brexit Category 1: All EU/EEA citizens – including British and Irish citizens – who have access to all three sets of entitlements.

Pre-Brexit Category 2: Non-EEA citizens – who don’t have EU rights and are heavily restricted in access to work and services/benefits in NI.

The implications of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, and any other Brexit that does not permit continued freedom of movement into NI, is that it places every group at some form of disadvantage.

Boundaries between citizens’ rights after Brexit
Table showing rights post Brexit depending on citizenship
Table showing rights post Brexit depending on citizenship

Brexit day: end of Brexit transition period (planned for December 2020);CTA – Common Travel Area (UK-Ireland and Channel Islands/Isle of Man; EU settled status scheme – provided for under Part II of Withdrawal Agreement)
Problem 1: Discrimination and denial of rights
Whilst the current two categories may seem straightforward, their enforcement and the denial of rights have been particularly draconian in recent years under the ‘Hostile Environment’ policies introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary.

This subcontracted the policing of immigration to public services and the private sector including banks, landlords and educational institutions. The impact of this is (but not restricted to) the ‘Windrush’ scandal.

With over a dozen new categories of differentiated rights-holders it is predictable that racial profiling (the form of discrimination whereby persons are singled out for greater scrutiny on the basis of skin colour or other ethnic attributes) will become even more widespread. Even when restrictions are correctly applied, some are so draconian as to deny basic human rights to people who are, for example, homeless, or victims of domestic abuse. Actual or perceived non-EEA nationals currently bear the brunt of this, but the expanded scope will cover many more people.

Problem 2: Compliance with the Good Friday Agreement
Enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) Treaty the British and Irish governments recognised the birthright of the ‘people of Northern Ireland’ “to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose”.

When read with the equality and parity of esteem provisions of the GFA this is not merely a provision that allows persons to choose a British or Irish passport (or both). Rather the provisions ensure equal treatment between British and Irish citizens as a result of their choice. This is set out clearly in the UK’s Brexit policy papers.

At present, within the EU context, Irish and British citizens are in the same entitlements category. Both will experience differential treatment and different forms of disadvantage post-Brexit.

An examination of some of the categories further highlights these problems.

British citizens resident in NI
The entitlements of British citizens to work and access services in NI are secured in domestic law. EU citizenship is for citizens of a member EU state, and the basic freedom of movement is lost along with subsidiary EU rights and opportunities for British citizens on Brexit day.

Citizens of EU26 countries (i.e. EU excluding Ireland) resident in NI
All citizens of EU member states are automatically EU citizens, and regardless of where they live they retain some EU citizen rights. These are most notably freedom of movement to visit, work, study, and retire elsewhere in the EU, along with some more administrative rights, such as the right to petition the European Parliament.

However, the continued access to many EU rights, opportunities and benefits is more complex and requires specific arrangements. Practical access to and exercise of them is normally either dependent on residency in an EU member state, participation in EU programmes or social security coordination between countries. As NI will not be part of a member state, a specific arrangement is needed for EU nationals already here to retain rights to reside, work and access services.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for an EU Settlement Scheme for EU citizens already in the UK (and British citizens elsewhere in the EU) to retain many EU rights and benefits – including access to work and services in their place of residence. The Home Office is to charge £65 per adult for applications under the scheme, which is to open in April 2019.

However, it is predictable that should this happen, many EU26 nationals will face obstacles in successfully applying to the EU Settlement Scheme, particularly those who have worked in more informal sectors of the economy. The whole purpose of the scheme is to differentiate pre-Brexit EU26 from fellow citizens who arrive after Brexit.

EU26 nationals will therefore fall into several different categories.

Irish citizens resident in NI
This is perhaps the most multifaceted and differentiated citizenship category. Given the GFA birth rights provisions it might be presumed that rights to reside, work and access services and benefits in NI are directly provided for in domestic law for those who choose to be Irish citizens. In fact, in large part this is often not the case. Irish citizens in NI only have many such entitlements either on the basis of EU law (that will be lost on Brexit) or on the basis of being treated by the UK as British, in conflict with the GFA.

In the context of Brexit, the UK Government has long promised that the “associated rights” of the (UK-Ireland) Common Travel Area (CTA) will allow all Irish citizens in NI (whether NI born or not) continued access to entitlements in six named areas – rights to 1: enter and reside; 2: work; 3: study; 4: social welfare; 5: health services; 6: to vote. The Irish government provides this reciprocally for British citizens in its jurisdiction.

There are however a number of issues accessing these CTA ‘associated rights’, not least in that they have been consistently politically promised but not currently fully provided for in domestic law. Even if fully written into domestic law, the absence of enshrinement in a treaty or Bill of Rights means CTA rights could be changed by any incoming government.

There is also no clarity as to the scope of what CTA rights will actually cover. Does ‘study’ cover schools as well as third level education? What range of benefits does it cover – e.g. social housing? Voting is restricted to local and parliamentary elections – and not paradoxically referendums (which would include a border poll under the terms of the GFA).

CTA rights by definition will not cover any entitlements outside the CTA itself – and there is no commitment to cover cross border provision (e.g. schooling or health care) or recognition of qualifications.

If this persists it is likely to make an application for Irish citizens under the EU settlement scheme a more attractive option (save the cost). This would ensure the retention of a range of EU rights largely guaranteed for life. This will not be open to any Irish citizen who ‘arrives in NI’ (which includes being born) after Brexit Day, and anyone in NI less than five years will have to stay for five years to get permanent residence status.

The relationship with EU broader rights, opportunities and benefits is not straightforward either. The December 2017 ‘Phase 1’ EU-UK Joint Report committed to arrangements for the maintenance of a broad range of EU based entitlements for Irish citizens. However, the commitment was politically promised but no such arrangements were put into the Withdrawal Agreement.

Retaining some EU rights will be possible under the EU Settlement Scheme. The official line has generally been that Irish citizens can but ‘need not apply’ under the scheme (due to the CTA).

However, the Home Office may also seek to refuse applications from NI-born Irish citizens. The issue arises as the Home Office has taken an interpretation of the GFA, despite its clear wording, that the birthright only extends to persons ‘identifying’ rather than being ‘accepted as’ Irish. Whilst inconsistent, the Home Office has therefore treated NI-born persons as ‘British’ for administrative purposes regardless of their GFA choice, most often precisely when seeking to access EU rights. This would render NI-born among the only EU citizens in the UK not able to retain EU rights, and further subdivide already complex categories.

Others
EEA nationals who are not EU26 are subject to separate agreements. The situation of non-EEA nationals does not improve. Then there are the circumstances of persons in NI but not residing here – most notably cross border workers, who are in separate categories.

Persons can also fall into more than one category and many of the above categories could also themselves be subdivided further.

As if decision making by the Home Office was not already poor enough the ‘hostile environment’ framework hands decision making powers on entitlements to a broad range of largely unqualified persons.

The complexity of the range of differentiated categories envisaged post-Brexit is largely a product of the thrust of the main Brexit campaign revolving around ‘taking back control of borders’.

Politically this ensured the ‘soft Brexit’ option of continued free movement was taken off the table. The result is the requirement of what will be a costly and complex system to differentiate different types of citizenship status to ensure that those deemed ‘not entitled’ (a fraction of 1% of the population) are excluded.

With many thanks to: The Detail for the original story.

CAJ deputy director Daniel Holder
Daniel Holder has been the deputy director of the human rights NGO the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) since 2011. He is also the co-convener of the Equality Coalitiona network of equality NGOs and trade unions jointly convened by CAJ and Unison. He is a member of the BrexitLawNI team, a partnership between the law schools of Queen’s and Ulster Universities and CAJ focusing on the constitutional, peace process and human rights implications of Brexit.

With many thanks to: The Detail for the original story.

 

Brexit: John Bruton says Britain has decided to ‘tear up’ GFA with Brexit

Britain has decided to “tear up” the Good Friday Agreement by going ahead with Brexit, a former Irish prime minister has said.

John Burton argued the Brexit vote had “negated” the 1998 referendum held in the North of Ireland and the South, which showed a majority in favour of the peace agreement.

He argued a no deal will lead to a hard border on the island.

Mr Bruton also said Sinn Féin’s refusal to take their seats in Westminster was a “tragedy”.

Unilaterally
“Unfortunately in Ireland we had no say in this [Brexit] – the British people decided on this freely. In so doing, they effectively negated a referendum we had in Ireland,” Mr Bruton told BBC’s Today programme.

“Remember, we changed our constitution, took certain articles out of our constitution in return for an international commitment from Britain to the Belfast Agreement which guaranteed fair treatment of both communities in Northern Ireland, that neither community would be isolated.

“We changed our constitution to make that deal and Britain then comes along unilaterally and essentially decides to tear that up by proceeding with Brexit… and that’s why we have insisted on a backstop to protect the Good Friday Agreement, so that Britain can’t do that.”

Mr Bruton served as Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997. He was later appointed as the EU’s ambassador to the US between 2004 and 2009.

On Tuesday, members of parliament in the UK are expected to hold their vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for the UK’s withdrawal and future relationship with the European Union.

The key vote has been delayed from 11 December 2018.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

“One suspects that those who object to the backstop are people who don’t really ever expect there will be an acceptable agreement that would avoid a hard border in Ireland or between Ireland and Britain,” added Mr Bruton.

On Sinn Féin’s policy of abstention at Westminster, he said: “Ireland was partitioned in 1920 when Sinn Féin refused to take their seats after the 1918 election.

“Sinn Féin have refused to take their seats on this occasion and the most serious threats to the position of Northern nationalists are now about to be realised – with no Sinn Féin, no Northern nationalist voice there to argue a different case.

“I think it’s a great shame, it’s a tragedy.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Brexit deal threatens national security, former MI6 and defence chiefs warn

Sir Richard Dearlove and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie have written to all Conservative Party chairmen.

Ex – MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, pictured, and former head of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Lord Guthrie have written to Conservative Party Chairmen (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

An ex-MI6 chief and a former head of the Armed Forces have warned that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will threaten national security if it is not defeated.

Sir Richard Dearlove and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie have written to all Conservative Party chairmen asking them to ensure their MPs vote against the “bad agreement”.

The damning letter, leaked to Sky News, claims the Withdrawal Agreement “abrogates” the state’s duty to protect the security of its citizens as it would “place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands”.

Please ensure that your MP votes against this bad agreement and supports a sovereign Brexit on World Trade Organisation rules

Lord Guthrie and Sir Richard said that the offer of a “new, deep and special relationship” with the EU in defence, security and intelligence “cuts across the three fundamentals of our national security policy” including Nato membership, the US relationship and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.

They wrote: “We are taking the unprecedented step of writing to all Conservative Party chairmen to advise and to warn you that this Withdrawal Agreement, if not defeated, will threaten the national security of the country in fundamental ways. Please ensure that your MP does not vote for this bad agreement.”

Devastating warning from former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove and former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Guthrie. “The Withdrawal Agreement…would place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands” pic.twitter.com/HGTWHggQes

— Owen Paterson MP (@OwenPaterson) January 10, 2019
It adds: “The first duty of the state, above trade, is the security of its citizens. The Withdrawal Agreement abrogates this fundamental contract and would place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands.

“Please ensure that your MP votes against this bad agreement and supports a sovereign Brexit on WTO rules, without payment of ransom, for which we now know from an heroic anonymous civil servant, the civil service is, of course, fully prepared.”

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The claim is completely wrong. Nothing in the Withdrawal Agreement or our Political Declaration cuts across Nato, our defence or intelligence relationship with the USA or with the Five Eyes alliance.

“In fact, our deal delivers the broadest security agreement the EU has with any of its partners.”

Tory former Brexit secretary David Davis said on Twitter: “Few people can match the expertise and patriotism of Richard Dearlove and Charles Guthrie. People should pay serious attention to their considered letter on why the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement needs to be voted down next week.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story

Time for new policies which demand respect for Irish rights and advocates

Letters:

The Irish News 01/01/2019

David McNarry’s exasperation with those thinking Ireland should have its say about Brexit, reminded me of Leon Uris’s fictional Unionist MP, Hamilton Walby, in the novel Trinity. Walby pompously extols British rule to croppy constituents, unaware that his speech reminds them of being oppressed.

Mr McNarry pompously says “butt out and let go of the border”, unaware he reminds us of what we have been saying to Westminster since partition.

Mr McNarry makes no distinction between Dáil political parties, scolding Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, and presumably others in between. They are all ‘bitter’, ‘arrogant’, ‘relentless in causing division’, allied with ‘Brussels bully boys’ in ‘a war of anti-British, anti-unionist agitation’.

Why try persuasion and miss a chance to insult nationalists?

Cutting through the name-calling, Mr McNarry thinks it is ridiculous to see the Irish take the border “which never figured in the referendum debate” and “plank it centre stage as a blocking mechanism”.

McNarry is correct that Ireland was given little say and less thought in the referendum by little Englanders who imagined Brexit heralding a return to Empire glory.

Millions in the 26 counties had no vote. Enda Kenny was reduced to appeals to the Irish residing in Britain.

The six counties, like Scotland, rejected Brexit. These majorities were dismissed. Arlene Foster lectured that no region within a country can veto the wishes of the majority of the whole country.

Foster was then first minister of a six county region within Ireland whose founding principle is that a British-backed unionist minority vetoed the all-Ireland democratic vote whose centenary we celebrated last month and can forever veto any all-Ireland vote.

There was no shortage of voices arguing that Britain’s exit from the European Union threatened untold economic consequences for Ireland north and south. Irish advocates highlighted disastrous trade and travel restrictions, potential losses of EU funding and recourse to European Courts.

They ‘never figured’ in the Brexit debates only because they were ignored. Why should disastrous consequences for Ireland be allowed to get in the way of imagined Empire glory?

Mr McNarry resorts to childish name-calling because those advocating Irish interests about Brexit can no longer be ignored. How dare Ireland ‘plank’ its own national and economic interests in the path of British interests? How dare Ireland join ‘Brussels bully boys’ in negotiations, instead of being bullied by Britain?

If Mr McNarry’s dismissive name-calling represents the broader unionist perspective, after decades of outreach policies, it is time for new policies which demand respect for Irish national rights and advocates.

MARTIN GALVIN
New York

http://www.irishnews.com/opinion/letterstotheeditor/2019/01/01/news/time-for-new-policies-which-demand-respect-for-irish-national-rights-and-advocates-1518251/

The Mad World of Theresa May Has Lured the EU into a Trap – Global Research

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-mad-world-of-theresa-may-has-lured-the-eu-into-a-trap/5663424