The New Partition: Britain’s Brexit Border In Ireland

An Sionnach Fionn

In a recent discussion stemming from an article examining the mysterious – and unprecedented – pro-Brexit campaign donations gifted to the Democratic Unionist Party last year, I made this point on the politics driving the DUP’s eagerness for the United Kingdom to abandon its membership of the European Union:

If one looks at the DUP’s history up to the early 2000s, a party of militant unionist protest, the enthusiasm for Brexit is very much of a type with attacks on the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement, the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, etc. It is burning the village to save the village. While the DUP was clearly happy with Stormont power-sharing, under its own terms, anything with the potential of reinforcing partition was too good an opportunity to miss. The DUP was not just driven by anti-EU sentiment, Euroscepticism to the nth degree. The party knew full well, at least the thinkers did, that that a likely outcome of Brexit…

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Leo Varadkar’s United Ireland Party Is Not For The Irish Voters Of Belfast

An Sionnach Fionn

If the political and media establishments were hesitant or fearful of last year’s centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, its likely that this will pale into comparison to the confusions and competing narratives ready to emerge over the hundred-year anniversaries of the events of 1917-1923. It seems that Leo Varadkar, the aspirant leader of Fine Gael, is already preparing the ground for his party to stake its claim to “own” the history of the War of Independence in the face of counter-claims by its political rivals. Yesterday, before the gathered press, the Minister for Social Protection announced his intention to restore FG’s former campaigning sobriquet of Fine Gael, the United Ireland Party. At the same time he promised that the organisation would celebrate its roots in the revolutionary period (while justifying and defending its central role in the bloody Civil War and theocratic Free State which followed).

Leo Varadkar’s statement was ridiculed by rival candidate, Simon Coveney, who…

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Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery!

The bomber in the Manchester terrorist attack appeared to have carried a powerful explosive in a lightweight metal container concealed either within a black vest or a blue Karrimor backpack, and may have held a small switch in his left hand, according to preliminary information gathered by British authorities.

Remnants of backpack

The initial analysis of the bomb, based on evidence photographed and collected at the crime scene and distributed by British authorities, does not specify the size or type of explosive used in the bomb’s main charge but suggests an improvised device made with forethought and care.

Possible switch located in suspect’s left hand

Law enforcement images of metal nuts and screws propelled by the blast, and of damage nearby, show that the bomb’s makeshift shrapnel penetrated metal doors and left deep scuffs in brick walls.

Nuts and screws used as shrapnel

And the authorities’ review of the blast site shows that many of the fatalities occurred in a nearly complete circle around the bomber, Salman Abedi, whose upper torso was heaved outside the lethal ring toward the Manchester Arena entrance.



Possible torso

of bomber







Approx. location

of detonation

Bridge to

Victoria Station

The New York Times

All of these are indicators of a powerful, high-velocity charge, and of a bomb in which its shrapnel was carefully and evenly packed.

The location of the bomber’s torso, and the apparent absence of fatalities in a line between the blast site and where his remains landed, was said by one explosive disposal technician who examined the images to indicate that the explosive charge was more likely in a backpack than in a vest, and propelled the bomber away from the blast.











Train tracks

The New York Times

Certain details of the bomb further suggest a desire by a bomb-maker to reduce the risk of a dud.

The authorities found a mangled Yuasa 12-volt, 2.1 amp lead acid battery at the scene, which is more powerful than batteries often seen in backpack bombs or suicide vests. The battery, used for emergency lighting and other applications, can be bought for about $20.

12-volt battery that was possible power source

A possible switch to initiate the explosion, carried in the bomber’s left hand, was also unusual in a suicide device, in that it appears to have contained a small circuit board soldered inside one end.

It is not clear from the law enforcement images if the object was a simple plunger switch, or included a timer or a receiver that could be operated remotely via radio signal – or some combination, or something else.

Such redundancy, if the object was the switch, could give the bomber or a cell more than one option for deploying the device, and suggest that the bomb was not as simple in design as many terrorist devices, which often are crude and prone to failure or haphazard effect.

One independent analyst of improvised explosive devices, Michael C.L. Johnson, suggested that the object might be an electronic cigarette and unrelated to the bomb’s detonation – an understandable case of investigators focusing on a crime-scene detail early in a case.

Western bomb disposal technicians who reviewed the images for The New York Times said that a more thorough analysis of the device is difficult without more information, and that assessments of the bomb could change as the authorities analyze it further and if they collect more evidence. But its apparent overdesign, including the more powerful than usual battery, could flow from a bomb-maker’s difficulty in building a reliable detonator.

With many thanks to: The New York Times, Additional work by, MIKA GRÖNDAHL, K.K. REBECCA LAI, SEIGIO PEÇANHA and DEREK WATKINS, for the origional story.


Surprise Convictions In Brazil, Business As Usual In Ireland

An Sionnach Fionn

No offence to the good people of Brazil but when you find yourself casting envious eyes at the treatment of high profile financial crime in the South American republic, you know something is rotten in our own European republic. From Alex Cuadros writing for the Baffler:

STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN BRAZIL: billionaires are going to jail. This includes Eike Batista, once the eighth-richest person in the world, who was arrested in January. Accused of paying $16.5 million in bribes, he was placed in a 160-square-foot cell with six other prisoners who shared a single fan and a single squat toilet and a single tap where the water turned on just a few times a day. His head was shaved—a standard procedure in Rio de Janeiro’s prison system, but one that came as a shock to those who remembered how he had once bragged on TV about his $30,000 wig. People used…

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