Varadkar recklessly disregards poll, claims McDonald

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald said that a no-deal Brexit would necessitate an immediate referendum on partition
Mary Lou McDonald said that a no-deal Brexit would necessitate an immediate referendum on partition

Mary Lou McDonald has accused the taoiseach of being “reckless” and of failing to adequately prepare for a border poll.

Almost half of voters in Northern Ireland would support a united Ireland if Britain left the EU under the withdrawal agreement that has been reached, according to a poll commissioned by The Times this week.

The Sinn Féin leader said that a no-deal Brexit would necessitate an immediate referendum on partition and she said she had told Theresa May this.

“If there is a hard Brexit and no deal then the immediacy of a border poll is self-evident,” Ms McDonald said. “You couldn’t possibly have a no-deal Brexit, resulting in the hardening of the border and suggest people would simply have to live with that.

“I have made that clear to the British prime minister and said it would have to be done very quickly in those circumstances. Beyond that I want us to have one as soon as possible but I also want us to win and I want us to win it well.”

She criticised Leo Varadkar and said that the government should be planning for the economic and social implications of reunification. “The government should be leading from the front on this. All of the polling data on this tells us categorically that the conversation has started and the genie is out of the bottle,” Ms McDonald said.

“The taoiseach needs to catch up. As head of government he needs to tell us how the conversation on unity will be structured. It is reckless for him to sit back and wish this away or pretend it is not happening.”

She said the main task for politicians was to maximise consensus but that the needs of those who were against leaving the United Kingdom would also have to be considered. “We understand we need an all-of-society conversation on what would be fundamental change. We are very conscious of the fact that people who do not support a united Ireland would have to be part of the conversation too. We would have to discover their red lines. There is a lot of work to be done,” Ms McDonald said.

Another part of the poll suggested that one in four unionists think the DUP would be wrong to reject Mrs May’s withdrawal deal. Almost four in ten unionists also disagreed or strongly disagreed that the DUP’s tactics in refusing to back it were correct.

Ms McDonald said she was not surprised Ms Foster’s party appeared to be out of step with some of its own voters. “I believe the DUP adopted a position on the Brexit referendum, never dreaming that Brexit would actually happen, and I don’t think they have had the political pragmatism or the political sense of responsibility to step back from that,” she said.

“Brexit is bad for Ireland and it’s particularly bad for the North and I think people are onto that. I’m not one bit surprised that people across the community, including those who would always vote for the union, look at Brexit and see nothing, only danger and jeopardy and they are wondering what Arlene Foster and the DUP are up to.”

Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, will urge both communities today to rally support for the deal in an open letter to voters. “It protects all the things we value,” Ms Bradley will say.

The so-called meaningful vote in the British parliament is scheduled for Tuesday, when MPs will have their say on the withdrawal deal. Mrs May’s deal is expected to be rejected.

With many thanks to the: Times Sunday Times for the original story.

Misinformation the weapon of choice in blame game politics

VITRIOL AND FINGER POINTING FAR EASIER THAN ACTUAL SOLUTIONS

HOW appropriate that on-line service dictionary.com has announced it’s Word of the Year – ‘misinformation’.

It’s the era of ‘fake news’ and media blaming, and it is a dangerous time. Misinformation is at the heart of the political process and in particular the rancorous Brexit debate which has been a trail of lies from day one. As we edge closer to the crucial Commons vote on Theresa May’s deal the debate has shifted; now it is little more than a poisonous blame game, characterised by the hard-line Brexiteers scurrying around blaming everybody but themselves. We’ve had the DUP sneering at the ‘puppet’ business community for sucking up to the Prime Minister and failing to read the draft document before backing the deal. That moved on this week with Arlene Foster redirected her fire. The rift between her party and the business community was caused by a media plot. It’s classic, she needed someone to blame. There could never be any question of the DUP taking responsibility.

DANGER

She then belatedly rode to the rescue of the farmers – another traditional source of support – to warn the deal would result in a cap in agricultural payments. Brexit by definition will bring to an end payments from Europe, wiping out 87 per cent of farmers’ income. In the absence of any commitment from the government to replace those payments May’s Withdrawal Agreement at least allows continued European support for one of our most important industries. And therein lies the danger of the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach. The DUP demands, and expects, and when Brussels said no we’ve been left peering over the trench lip into no man’s land.

This is where the politics of no-compromise has brought us. And the world of no-compromise is a barren place. Like or loathe her Theresa May, forced to play with the worst of all hands, has rolled up her sleeves and gone to work. The deal may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a deal. Hardline Brexeteers, including the DUP and the traditionally rollicking Jim Allister, have contributed nothing but megaphone politics and personal vitriol. Does anyone out there have any idea what the DUP’s alternative deal is? Has anyone out there seen Boris Johnson’s thought-out proposals? Picking apart what’s on the table is one thing, but show us what you’ve got. They won’t because they can’t. So when we crash out of the EU with no deal and we turn to the DUP and others who brought us here expect them to say “don’t look at me, wasn’t our fault. It was the media”.

With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan and the Sunday World for the original posting.

DON’T LEAVE US BEHIND LEO’

Key figures from worlds of Business, sport and arts sign letter to taoiseach on Brexit

A letter to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

A Thaosigh, a chara,

In December 2017 you made a commitment to Irish citizens in the north:

“To the nationalist people in Northern Ireland, I want to assure you that we have protected your interests throughout these negotiations. Your birth right as Irish citizens, and therefore as EU citizens, will be protected. There will be no hard border on our island. You will never be again left behind by an Irish Government. These rights will, of course, be available to everyone in Northern Ireland who chooses to exercise his or her right to be an Irish citizen, regardless of their political persuasion or religious beliefs.” Leo Varadkar 8th December 2o17.

 

Your commitment and assurances assurances are welcomed by all who cherish their Irish citizenship and identity in the north.

However, almost a year latter, the denial of our rights continues.

The political institutions remain in suspension as political unionism continues to deney respect for our Irish identity and and language, marriage equality, access to justice for legacy matters. As you know, these rights are now taken for granted by citizens in other parts of these islands.

The British Conservative government has rendered itself unable to effect any progress on these rights issues due to its dependence on the DUP. Brexit threatens to deppen the rights crisis and there is a real danger of serious erosion of current guarantees.

Access to free healthcare in EU countries will be denied, including if an Irish citizen from the north requires medical treatment while on holiday or visiting friends and family in the south.

The cost of studying at any university in the south will increase substantially rendering this option closed to many young Irish citizens in the north.

Irish citizens in the north will no longer be represented in the European Parliament.

After Brexit occurs, there are presently no guarantees as to the mutual recognition of qualifications. This may affect an electrician wanting to work in Dublin. Or a nurse from Dublin wanting to work in Belfast.

There is a very real potential that potential that partition could be reinforced, and our country and our people further devided. This is a source of grave concern to all of us.

We, as Irish citizens, urge you to adhere to your commitment that we would “never again be left behind by an Irish Government” and to redouble your efforts, and the efforts of government, to ensure that our rights are protected.

————————-

Chuir siad siúd sa sa tuaisceart ar mór acu a saoránacht agus a bhféiniúlacht Éireannach, chuir siad sin fáilte roimh na gealltanais a thug tú.

Bliain ina dhiaidh sin, áfach, leanann leis an diúltú cert.

Tá na hinstitiúidí polaitiúla ar fionraí fós mar a dhiúlataíonn polaiteoirí aontachtacha meas a thabhairt ar Ghaeilge agus ar ár bhféiniúlacht Éireannach: ar an chomhionannas posts; agus ar chearta maidir leis an chóras dla, is cearta iad seo nach iontach le sioránaigh in áiteanna eile sna hoileáin seo.

De dheasca go bhfuil siad ag brath ar an DUP, nil an Rialtas Coimeádach sa Bhreatain ábalta aon dul chun a thabhairt i bhfeidhm i dtaobh na gceisteanna ceart seo.

De bharr Brexit, tá an bhagairt ann go rachaidh an ghéarchéim ceart in olcas agus go gcreimfear dearbhuithe reatha.

Diúltófar cúram sláinte saor in aisce do shaoránaigh i dtíortha san Aontas Eorpach; cuimsíonn sé sin an saoránach Éireannach ó thuaidh dá mbeadh cóir leighis ag teastáil air/uirthi agus é/í ar saoire nó ar cuairt ag daoine muinteartha sa deisceart.

Méadóidh an costas a bhaineann me duine ag freastal ar ollscoil sa deisceart: rud a scriosfaidh sin mar rogha do chuid mhór saorábach óg sa tuaisceart.

Ní dhéanfar ionadaíocht, níos mó, sa Parliament Eurpach ar son saoránaigh Éireannacha sa tuaisceart.

Ó thaobh cáilíochtai de, níl aon ghealltanas ann faoi láthair maidir le haitheantas frithpháirteach indiaidh Brexit. Is féidir go gcuirfidh sé sin isteach ar an leictreoir ar mhaith leis/lei bheith ag i mBaile Átha Cliath: nó ar an altra atá ag iarraidh post imBeal Feirste. 

Tá fíorchontúirt ann go neartófar an chríochdheighjlt, agus go scarfar ár dtír agus ár muintir níos arís. Is cúis mhór imní í sin ar fad.

Mar shaoránaigh Éireannacha, iarraimid ort cloí leis an choimitmint a thug tú Bach bhfágfaidh rialtas d’Eirnn ina dhiaidh muid “choiche Arís”. Iarraimid ORT do chuid iarrachtaí do rialtais a ghéarú lena a chinntiú go ndéanfar ár gcearta a chosaint.

Is Sinne

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

BBC criticised over Arron Banks slot on Andrew Marr show

Lawyers and MPs condemn plan to interview Brexiter under criminal investigation

Arron Banks the man behind the Brexit campaign

The BBC has been criticised for booking Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit billionaire who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to appear on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after his case was referred to it by the Electoral Commission, which said there were reasonable grounds to suspect Banks was “not the true source” of £8m given to the Leave.EU campaign.

Arron Banks faces criminal inquiry over Brexit campaign
Read more
The BBC’s decision provoked widespread condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists.

Andrew Adonis, a leading remain campaigner, said in a letter to the BBC that Banks’s expected appearance was the result of “a very serious editorial misjudgment, influenced by a culture of accommodation to extreme Brexiteers now deeply embedded within the BBC”.

Caroline Lucas MP and Molly Scott Cato MEP, both Green party politicians, wrote an open letter criticising the decision to allow Banks to “spread misinformation at our expense”.

Molly Scott Cato MEP
(@MollyMEP)
Here’s the email to the BBC sent by myself and @CarolineLucas explaining why they should reverse their decision to give a platform to Arron Banks

Please continue with your own complaints about this appalling decision@TheGreenParty pic.twitter.com/5vnXwkY0iy

November 3, 2018
Jo Maugham QC, the director of the Good Law Project, tweeted: “How robust Andrew Marr’s questioning is – and he is a good interviewer – is completely beside the point. The interview is an invitation to viewers to choose between what the independent regulator has said and what Arron Banks says. That is a false and dangerous equivalence.”

The BBC spoke to Banks at Gatwick airport on Saturday morning as he returned to the UK from Bermuda.

When asked about the origin of the funds, Banks said: “I certainly won’t be showing you. You know, we’re going to cooperate with the NCA and they’ll have visibility into our accounts.” When pressed further, he said: “Goodbye, I’m not talking to you.”

According to Andy Wigmore, a close associate of Banks, access to the accounts in question has been released to the BBC prior to Sunday’s show, and Banks is expected to refer to a legal opinion to demonstrate that the financial dealings in question were legitimate.

The Electoral Commission said it suspected Banks had tried to knowingly conceal the origin of the money, and that the money was provided through a company based in the Isle of Man.

It said in a report: “Leave.EU, Elizabeth Bilney (the responsible person for Leave.EU), BFTC, Mr Banks, and possibly others, concealed the true details of these financial transactions, including from us, and also did so by knowingly making statutory returns/reports which were incomplete and inaccurate, or false.”

Both Bilney and Banks deny any wrongdoing, with the latter posting a flurry of tweets on Friday evening.

“The Electoral Commission have made a public statement without producing any evidence,” he said. “I am happy to be robustly interviewed.”

In a statement, the BBC said: “There is a strong public interest in an interview with Arron Banks about allegations of funding irregularities in relation to Leave.EU and the 2016 EU referendum.

“The Electoral Commission has laid out concerns about this in public and it is legitimate and editorially justified for Andrew Marr to question Mr Banks robustly about them, which he will do on Sunday morning.”

The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw wrote to Theresa May on Friday to ask whether the government had blocked requests to conduct an investigation into Banks, amid repeated allegations that an inquiry was prevented during her time as home secretary.

With many thanks to: The Guardian for the original story

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-northern-ireland-44624299

https://www.opendemocracy.net/dup-dark-money

http://www.irishnews.com/paywall/tsb/irishnews/irishnews/irishnews//news/northernirelandnews/2018/09/17/news/court-ruling-prompts-call-for-fresh-dup-dark-money-probe-1434340/content.html

Michel Barnier rebuffs UK calls for flexibility on the Irish Border

Chief negotiator says EU ready to improve proposal but will not accept British ideas for compromise

Michel Barnier has rebuffed British calls for the European Union to soften its stance on the contested issue of the Irish border and said a “moment of truth” was fast approaching on a Brexit deal.

May will appeal directly to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”

Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said the bloc was ready to improve its proposal on avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland but stopped short of accepting British ideas for compromise, after the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, called on the EU to show flexibility.

“The European council in October will be the moment of truth, it is the moment when we shall see if we have an agreement,” Barnier said.

The Irish border has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to the Brexit deal that Theresa May hopes to strike with the EU this autumn. While the EU and UK have agreed there should be no hard border to prevent any return to violence, they are deadlocked over how to manage what will become a 310-mile frontier between the UK and EU.

Both sides have proposed fallback plans, known as backstops, that would kick into place if trade talks fail to settle the question. The EU’s involves Northern Ireland following EU law on customs and goods, a plan May has said no British prime minister could ever accept.

Barnier said the EU was working to improve its proposal, adding that the problem had been caused by “the UK’s decision to leave the EU, its single market and the customs union”. Seeking to counter British criticism that the EU plan eroded UK sovereignty, he said: “What we talking about here is not a land border, not a sea border, it is a set of technical checks and controls. We respect the territorial integrity of the UK and we respect the constitutional order of the UK.”

Barnier was speaking after a 90-minute meeting with the EU’s 27 European affairs ministers at a summit in Brussels. Many countries intervened in the debate to stress the importance of reaching a deal and its timing.

Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, got a full update from Barnier on the backstop developments and later described his meeting as “excellent”. The Irish cabinet had earlier agreed to hire 451 new staff for border duties out of a total of 1,077 needed for ports and airports.

Ireland is among several EU countries concerned that having an emergency summit in November will take the pressure off the British in the coming weeks.

May will appeal to EU leaders at a summit in Salzburg to soften their stance over UK access to the single market and customs union. She is expected to tell them on Wednesday night that Brussels needs to shift. A senior No 10 official said: “To come to a successful conclusion, just as the UK has evolved its position, the EU will need to do the same.”

Downing Street believes that the UK has developed its negotiating position to reach the Chequers plan and it is now time for other EU countries to show some flexibility in order to finally strike a deal. The prime minister will argue that with “goodwill and determination” the UK and the EU could avoid a “disorderly” Brexit that would be damaging for both sides and instead strike a deal that benefited both.

“Neither side can demand the ‘unacceptable’ of the other, such as an external customs border between different parts of the United Kingdom. No other country would accept it if they were in the same situation,” she will say.

May will tell her fellow leaders that the EU’s current proposal does not respect the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK as it effectively suggests a customs border down the Irish Sea with its backstop plan.

She is expected to deny suggestions by EU officials that the UK is attempting to cherry-pick by seeking the rights of membership without the obligations.

“That is not what we are doing,” she will say. “What we are proposing is a fair arrangement that will work for the EU’s economy as well as the UK’s, without undermining the single market.”

No 10 has been cautiously optimistic in recent days that the UK can expect a softening of tone at the Salzburg summit from some EU leaders who are keen to nail down a Brexit deal this autumn.

It remains to be seen whether that translates into a shift in negotiating position from Brussels, where officials have been more sceptical. The EU27 will wait to discuss next steps, including whether to relax Barnier’s negotiating mandate, until May has left the room.

Meanwhile, Brussels is preparing to step up its legal action against the UK in a case of alleged customs fraud. The European commission has accused HM Revenue and Customs of negligence in controls that enabled Chinese fraudsters to evade duties, causing a €2.7bn (£2.4bn) loss to the EU budget.

The commission will announce the next step in the process on Wednesday, the final stage before it can take the government to the European court of justice.

Brussels launched the action in March, and British officials see the timing of the latest move – on the eve of the Salzburg summit – as provocative. “I can only speculate on the reasons, but it seems pretty obvious what is going on,” a No 10 insider said.

A government spokesman said: “The UK does not accept liability for the alleged losses or recognise the estimate of alleged duty evaded. We take customs fraud very seriously and we continue to evolve our response as new threats emerge.”

The alleged fraud has raised tensions between the EU and UK, contributing to mistrust about British officials’ ability to collect duties on behalf of the bloc, as proposed by the government in its unprecedented customs partnership.

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

Brexit: UK ‘has two weeks’ to submit border plans

Irish border

Disagreements remain over how the Irish border should be treated after Brexit

The UK must submit written proposals on how it plans to keep a frictionless Irish border after Brexit in the next two weeks, Ireland’s foreign minister has said.
Simon Coveney said if that does not happen the UK will face an uncertain summer of talks.
Both the UK and EU say they are committed to keeping the Irish border open after Brexit.
However, a practical solution has not been agreed.
Brexit: All you need to know
Full text of the EU-UK statement
The EU and Ireland both insist Britain’s withdrawal treaty must lock in a backstop arrangement guaranteeing Northern Ireland will abide by EU regulations in case a future trade pact does not remove the need for border controls.
Britain has signed up to this, but has rejected the EU’s interpretation of what the backstop means.
“In the next two weeks, we need to see written proposals, it needs to happen two weeks from the summit,” Mr Coveney told the Irish Times newspaper, referring to a June summit of EU leaders that is supposed to mark significant progress on the issue.
“If there is no progress on the backstop, we are in for an uncertain summer.
“At this point we need written proposals on the Irish backstop consistent with what was agreed. We await written proposals from the British side.”
In February, the EU proposed a backstop which would involve the UK, in respect of Northern Ireland, maintaining full alignment with those rules of the EU’s single market and customs union which support north-south cooperation.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she could never agree to that as it would “threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea”.

With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story.

 

RUC/PSNI police station sales on hold over Brexit uncertainty

 

Castlederg RUC/PSNI station identified for disposal since 2016

The PSNI has confirmed it has halted the sale of three border police stations as a “precautionary step” over Brexit.

The stations are Castlederg and Aughnacloy in County Tyrone and Warrenpoint in County Down.
All three had been “previously identified for disposal”.
Brexit has returned the Irish border to the centre of Anglo-Irish politics and it is still unclear what it will look like when the UK leaves the EU.
Brexit: UK ‘has two weeks’ to submit border plans
Police ask for up to 400 more officers ahead of Brexit
BBC News NI previously reported that the sale of Warrenpoint station had been halted, and that it was believed Aughnacloy and Castlederg stations were also to be taken off the market.
This has now been confirmed by the PSNI.
“In light of the UK referendum vote to leave the EU, we are reviewing decisions we previously made about some of our stations identified for disposal,” Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said.
Image caption
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former Warrenpoint station
“Accordingly, it is our intention to pause the disposal of three stations in border areas, namely Warrenpoint, Castlederg and Aughnacloy.
“As the PSNI has not yet received details regarding potential border arrangements, this is a precautionary step to ensure that, whatever Brexit looks like in the future, we will be able to continue to keep our communities safe.”
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former station in Warrenpoint, which went on the market in 2016.
The plan was to convert it into a community centre.
Customs checks
The UK and EU have both said they do not wish to see a hard border after Brexit, but they have not been able to agree on how to avoid checks on goods once the UK has left the customs union and single market.
If there is no Brexit deal it is likely customs officials will have to carry out the checks and it will be the job of the police to protect them.
The Chief Constable of the PSNI is to ask the government to fund the recruitment of up to 400 additional officers for operations along the border after Brexit.

With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story