Former Real IRA commander: Even cameras on masts would be seen as ‘spy posts’ in border regions

Former dissident warns of massive recruitment drive

A ONCE senior dissident republican, jailed for his part in a bombing plot, has said a hard Brexit would be used by armed republican groups to stage a “massive recruitment drive”.

INTERVIEW: John Connolly

Fermanagh man John Connolly was at one time considered the most dangerous and active member of the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). In November 2000 Connolly was arrested at the Teemore crossroads in Co Fermanagh by undercover soldiers in possession of a large mortar bomb containing around 100 kilos of homemade explosives. He received a 14-year jail term for the bomb plot, two other men who were with him received 13 years. while in jail he became the spokesperson for the Real IRA prisoners. In an interview with online news site The Journal, (link below), Connolly said he cut all ties with armed groups after being released from prison in 2007 and did not wish to see a return to violence. However, he said that, based on his own experience, any form of physical infrastructure at the border would be seen as the manifestation of “a foreign occupying military force”.

“Cameras would be regarded as spy posts and removed by the local population in border areas”, he said. “The British government don’t seem to have learned from the past. From oppression grows resistance. It definitely does. We’re living in peaceful times at the minute an no-one wants to go back to the war years.” Connolly was sentenced to a five-year term in prison in the early 1990s for gathering information on behalf of the Provisional IRA, but broke away in 1997 to join the RIRA. He said he “did not agree with the decommissioning of IRA weapons”. “That’s why I broke all contact with the Provisional movement,” he said. “You do have armed groups out there that are continuing the struggle. But I am not in support of armed struggle myself. “I’ll not condemn people who are… I would be a hypocrite if I did, especially with my past of being involved in armed actions myself.”

With many thanks to: Allison Morris Security Correspondent and The Irish News for the origional posting.

Spitting Image creator calls for TV show comeback to spit in the face of Brexit

Beloved satirical puppet show that mocked Margaret Thatcher may well return, if its creator John Lloyd gets his way

Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher depicted as a puppet in Spitting Image, 1989

“In this particular climate, I think it’s about time Spitting Image had a comeback,” says absolutely everyone.

But this is the satirical puppet show’s producer John Lloyd saying it, so that’s much more encouraging.

Creator Roger Law is currently attempting to take the ITV series Stateside — “there is a possibility it will happen in America,” confirms John.

But John firmly believes it’s “about time” the show, which aired in the 1980s and 1990s, returns to British TV screens.

“It’s really good for Brits,” he tells the Mirror. “We have slightly lost our sense of humour in this climate and no one dares speak to anyone.

“Spitting Image is very good at airing the issues in a way that made people laugh about them.

Former PM Margaret Thatcher was the original target of the show (Image: Getty Images)

“When I was producing it, it’s not unlike what we have now, which is a very divided society – you were either pro Mrs Thatcher or you didn’t like her at all. Spitting Image went on and people could have a lightness of touch about it.”

John — who has previously said he believes Spitting Image might have prevented Brexit if it had been on air during the referendum — adds that the show “educated a bunch of kids in politics” and “made them interested in it”.

“That is the problem,” he continues. “Nowadays, people have washed their hands with it and they say ‘I don’t like any of them. I’m not interested.’”

Last year, show creator Roger Law said he was focused on a US version.

“I don’t need some halfwit at ITV or the BBC telling us what you can or can’t do,” he scoffed. “I’m too old.”

With many thanks to the: Daily Mirror for the original story

Sir Jim Ratcliffe: UK’s richest man and ardent Breixiteer is moving to Monaco

Billionaire said Britain would be ‘perfectly successful’ outside of the EU, but is now opting to leave

Ineos fonder Sir Jim Ratcliffe is prominent Brexit supporter

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s wealthiest man and a key Brexit backer, has decided to leave the UK and live in Monaco.

Despite his previous claims that the UK would be “perfectly successful” outside of the European Union (EU), the billionaire has chosen to leave the country of his birth and move to the principality, whose residents do not pay income tax, on the Mediterranean coast.

Sir Jim, founder and CEO of the chemicals giant Ineos, was named as the richest man in Britain in this year’s Sunday Times rich list, with an estimated fortune of £21bn.

Before the 2016 referendum, Sir Jim made it clear he supported Britain’s exit from the bloc and claimed that the UK would prosper if it did.

“The Brits are perfectly capable of managing the Brits and don’t need Brussels telling them how to manage things,” he told The Sunday Times. “I just don’t believe in the concept of a United States of Europe. It’s not viable.”

While Ineos will remain headquartered in London, two of the company’s other top executives, Andy Currie and John Reece, will join Sir Jim in Monaco, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Motivations for their relocation have not been made clear, but Sir Jim has previously complained about Britain’s tax regime. Ineos moved its headquarters to Switzerland in 2010 for four years to cut its corporation tax bill.

Monaco is also known for its advantageous tax regime.

Earlier this year the wealthy Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft was criticised for urging “ambitious” British companies to relocate to Malta at the end of the Brexit process.

He said the island would be a “superb location for UK companies needing an EU base”.

Labour MP Ian Murray said: “Lord Ashcroft is selling our country down the river.

“He backs a Brexit that will devastate jobs and the economy at home while at the same time trying to flog the benefits of low tax Malta to companies fleeing the mess he and his chums have made.”

Sir Jim owns 60% of Ineos, which makes sales of around 60 billion US dollars (£46.6 billion) a year and employs around 19,000 people

Last year documents released by Friends of the Earth revealed Ineos had lobbied the government to roll back environmental regulations if the UK were to leave the EU.

An Ineos spokesperson told The Independent: “Ineos is committed to its business base in London and plans to remain headquartered in the UK for the foreseeable future.”

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original story

Tory government votes not to retain European human rights charter in UK law after Brexit

Conservatives insist basic rights will still be protected under existing laws that will remain after Britain leaves the EU

MPs have voted against including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit.

A Labour amendment, tabled in the name of Jeremy Corbyn, sought to retain the provisions in the Charter but was voted down by 317 votes to 299.

The EU Withdrawal Bill, which is currently in its report stage in the House of Commons, will transfer all existing EU law into UK law when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

However, it includes several exceptions, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The bill states: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day.”

The Charter includes a wide range of basic protections, including the right to a private life, freedom of speech, equality provisions and employment rights governing how workers are treated. It is broader than the European Convention on Human Rights, which is already part of UK law through the Human Rights Act.

Government ministers insist the protections enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights either already exist in British law or else will be incorporated through other EU directives.

The Government avoided a potential parliamentary defeat on the issue late last year after promising to undertake a “right-by-right analysis” of how the protections enshrined in the Charter will be guaranteed after Brexit.

The potential rebellion was averted when Tory rebels including former Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed to back down after receiving reassurances from ministers.

However, Labour says the subsequent analysis, published last month, is “woefully inadequate” and pushed ahead with its amendment.

“The document they released fails to provide any assurance that essential rights will be protected once we leave the EU,” Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said earlier this month.

“On the contrary, it takes rights from the charter and scatters them to their original sources: the polar opposite of effective human rights protection.

EU chief tell UK that Brexit can still be reversed

Majority would back second referendum without a Brexit deal, poll says
During debates on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday, Mr Grieve said failing to incorporate the Charter into UK law after Brexit would send out “a really strange message” about the Conservative’s approach to human rights, and urged peers to consider the issue when the bill passes to the House of Lords.

Mr Grieve said: “I listen very carefully to what the Prime Minister says about modernising the Conservative Party, about giving it a broad appeal to younger people, about trying to ensure that we reflect current norms and standards in our country and give effect to them in the sorts of policies we develop.

”And yet … it does seem to me that in simply batting this issue away and saying don’t worry, it’s all going to be perfectly alright, without even coming up with a plan for the future about possibly adding a bill of rights clause or rights clauses to the Human Rights Act, we’re sending out a really very strange message about our attitude on this side of the House to matters which I believe many people in this country now see as being rights of a fundamental character, particularly on issues like LGBT and things of that sort.

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original story

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Border poll will be won by nationalists

Brexit risks all of the progress that has been made and also risks the potential change that the Good Friday Agreement promised in terms of a society based on equality and parity of esteem – ie rights – and a pathway to a new independent Ireland.

FOR centuries the rights and interests of the people of this country, nationalists and unionists, have been subject to the interests of the British government, irrespective of the collateral damaged caused to the people here.

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was supposed to be the beginning of a new era where both the North of Ireland was the shared responsibility of the Irish and British governments and free of the malign and prejudiced influence of the British government. The GFA promised all-Ireland institutions with expanding horizons and equality and parity of esteem between the people of the North. Much has changed since the introduction of the GFA and Ireland has changed for the better on many fronts.

But Brexit risks all of the progress that has been made and also risks the potential change that the GFA promised in terms of a society based on equality and parity of esteem – ie rights – and a pathway to a new independent Ireland. Brexit has introduced, through the front door, a double veto over that promised by the GFA, the dead hand of the DUP in collaboration with the Tories and fanatical Brexiteers, in the ERG. Due to the Brexit needs of the British government, the DUP – which is a minority voice – has had its status and influence elevated to the point where it is effectively running the British government’s Brexit policy.

Before Brexit, the DUP had effectively blocked the full implementation of the GFA and created an immovable unionist veto inside the North’s institutions – immovable because of the failure of the British government, to act. The North’s institutions were doomed long before the heating scandal (RHI) led to their collapse. Since the collapse of the institutions the situation has deteriorated to the point where the DUP’s influence, through Brexit, is set to damage, not just northern society in terms of its economy and people’s rights, but the economy of the rest of this country. Northern nationalists – ever mindful of the limitions placed on their national and cultural rights by the confines of a unionist dominated state – have moved to achieve their rights beyond the six counties and are now begaining to shape a new political framework, within an all-Island setting, with the Irish government the principal focus and with the primary objective being reunification.

That is what ‘Ireland’s Future’ conference in Waterfront Hall publicly signalled. The context of the shift was the realisation by northern nationalists, after 10 years of government, that the DUP was opposed to power-sharing and fully working, to their maximum, the all-Ireland institutions of the GFA. In fact, the DUP was using the institutions to block progress, including the modernisation of northern society on human rights issues such as access to the truth for grieving relatives, marriage equality, abortion reform, an Irish language act, Irish citizenship and a Bill of Rights.

The shift was also influenced by a new and younger nationalist middle class who had experienced the war years; had been politicised by their experience, we’re confident and assertive and seeking, not a reformed north, but a new independent Ireland, where a reformed north could have an institutional place in a transitional arrangement. The first signs of the shift were the north’s nationalist electorate turning its back on Westminster and voting for Sinn Féin abstentionist MPs. The other element, in my view, the most crucial in the shift is the reality that nationalists will be a voting majority in the not too distant future and under the terms of the GFA could vote for a United Ireland in a border poll.

But shifts are not confined to the nationalist population. Brexit is impacting on the broad unionist community as well. We saw that in 2016 when a section of unionists voted with nationalists to Remain in the EU and a few months later stayed at home resulting in the unionist parties losing their majority in the north’s assembly for the first time in 100 yeas.

Add into this fast-evolving situation the possibility of a Jeremy Corbyn-led government in Downing Street after the next election and we have the ingredients for a transition to a new independent Ireland triggered by Corbyn implementing the GFA in all its parts, including a provision for a unity/border poll.

With many thanks to: Jim Gibney and The Irish News for the original posting.

March 29th is only the end of the beginning

Here are some facts. Britain is leaving a club. It is impossible to enjoy that club’s benefits outside it… Members of the club will support each other against outsiders as they have been demonstrating by backing the Republic

YOU might think from all the hype around it that March 29th or, to be precise. 11pm on March 29th, will be the end of the argument about what kind of Brexit there will be. Deal or no deal? Backstop or no backstop? World Trade Organisation rules or free trade? Sorry to disabuse you of such notions.

March 29th – and Theresa May seems determined to leave the EU on that date – is not the end. It is the end of the beginning. There are years more of this sturm and drang, a necessary and long overdue process tearing British politics apart. Divisions are so deep in England – and essentially it is an English problem foisted on Scotland and the North of Ireland – that being a Leaver or Remainer is going to be like being a Cavalier or a Roundhead in the English civil war. Incidentally, that war also sucked in Scotland and Ireland for a generation. No, if you thought the last 30 months were unbearable, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The best short description of the truth, logic and reality that Britain will have to face is contained in a little booklet by Sir Ivan Rogers. Rogers was the UK’s ambassador to the EU, an expert on EU negotiations, the ‘insider’s insider’ according to one description. He resigned in January 2017 before he was pushed. Theresa May and her ministers didn’t like hearing the truth from Rogers, such as, it will take a decade to negotiate a trade deal. His booklet, at 96 pages, is a snappier version of a lecture he gave at the University of Liverpool in December. It is called 9 Lessons in Brexit and won’t make him any more popular with the British government than he was then he resigned. JK Rowling said of Roger’s lecture: “Remember the words of Ivan Rogers the next time you see some plausible posh boy in a suit telling you no deal wouldn’t hurt at all.”

Robert Preston sid: “Rogers cuts through the guff spoken by government, ERG. Labour and pretty much everyone else.” That of course includes the DUP but then, never having had an original thought about Brexit themselves, they merely regurgitate the codswallop they hear the ERG spout. They’re an old computer programming acronym – GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Here are some facts. Britain is leaving a club. It is impossible to enjoy that club’s benefits outside it. It is impossible to have frictionless trade outside the Customs Union and Single Market because the market belongs to club members and is subject to the European Court of Justice. Members of the club will support each other against outsiders as they have been demonstrating by backing the Republic.

When trade talks begin, as they assuredly will, Rogers points out that EU solidarity will be paramount. “Solidarity will be with the major fishing members, not with the UK,” he says. Solidarity will be with Spain, not the UK, when Madrid makes Gibraltar-related demands in the trade negotiation endgame. “Solidarity will be with Cyprus to avoid precedents which might be applied to Turkey.” The idea that the EU will always make a deal at one minute to midnight is a fantasy. That may happen when EU members are negotiating with each other, not negotiating with a third country which the UK will be.

A UK team will not be in the room negotiating with the EU27. As Rogers points out: “Brexiteers fantasize about a style of negotiation which is only available to members of the club.” The UK will be facing a position agreed by the EU27, which is what is happening at present. After March 29th, whatever the outworking of the English politicians negotiating with themselves as they have been now for 30 months, the UK will enter a state of permanent negotiations with the EU as an opponent, not a partner. Last week the EU’s trade agreement with Japan came into operation after six years of negotiation. On March 29th the UK falls out of that agreement along with 50 other agreements the EU has made with third countries. Why does anyone think the UK will be able to seal a better deal than the EU has done with Japan, or anywhere else? Ask the DUP or get real.

With many thanks to: Brian Feeney and The Irish News for the original story

Further concerns over rights of Irish citizens in the north over Brexit

[Caroline Nokes’s] position makes a mockery of the agreement’s pledge that it is the ‘birth right’ of people born in the North to be accepted as Irish or British (or both) – Daniel Holder

◾ANGER: Deputy Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) Daniel Holder

CONCERNS have been raised again about the rights of people in the North claiming Irish citizenship after Brexit.

It comes after a statement by British immigration minister Caroline Nokes on the same day Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to examine difficulties faced by Irish citizens who want to bring family members into the North. Under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) people have the right to Irish or British citizenship. In response to a parliamentary question this week, Ms Kokes said: “Irish citizens resident in the UK who do not hold British citizenship will be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if they choose. However, they do not need to so under the reciprocal Common Travel Area arrangements with Ireland.” The EU Settlement Scheme will allow EU citizens to continue living in Britain or the North of Ireland after Brexit.

However, the Home Office has previously said it views people born in the North as British, a position some believe including myself is contrary to the GFA. It has ment that family members of people born in the North of Ireland but claiming Irish citizenship may have difficulty securing residency. Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice expressed concern. “Under the current Home Office position that the North of Ireland-born people should be treated as British, this means that no Irish citizen born in the North could benefit from the retained EU citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, that are to be accessed by the EU Settlement Scheme,” he said. Mr Holder said Ms Nokes is at odds with the GFA.

“Her position makes a mockery of the agreement’s pledge that it is the ‘birth right’ of people born in the North to be accepted as Irish or British (or both),” he said. Back in December 2017 separate UK-EU commitments were made for arrangements for Irish citizens residing in the North of Ireland to continue to be able to exercise EU rights – but these arrangements were never put into place.

“This Home Office position means Irish citizens here may be among the only EU citizens not to have a mechanism to retain some of their EU rights.” Ms Nokes caused controversy last year when she admitted to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that she had not read the Good Friday Agreement “in its entity”. A Home Office spokesman said on Wednesday night it was ” absolutely committed to upholding the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement which confirms the birth right of the people of the North of Ireland to identify as British or Irish or both, as they may choose, and to hold both British and Irish citizenship. “We respect the right of the people in the North of Ireland to choose how they identify,” he said.

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

THE IRISH NEWS     Pro fide et patria

Rights battle was ludicrous hurdle

WHILE Theresa May offered little fresh thinking on the Brexit crisis during her two-day visit to Belfast, which ended on Wednesday, she deserves credit for indicating that the alarming saga over citizenship rights endured by Co Derry woman Emma DeSouza could at last be close to a positive outcome.

Mrs DeSouza, as a holder of an Irish passport, was ludicrously told by the UK’s Home Office that she needed to declare herself to be a British citizen if her US-born husband, Jake, was to be granted a visa officially allowing him to live at their Magherafelt home.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998

After the issue was repeatedly highlighted by The Irish News, Mrs May said she had specifically asked Home Office Sajid Javid to consider how such cases could be addressed as a matter of urgency. There will be relief when Mr DeSouza’s application is finally approved but it remains disturbing that his wife needed to go to court in order to demonstrate her entitlement to an Irish identity under the Good Friday Agreement.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.