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.

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.

 

According to Arlene (the green crocodile) Foster there was never a hard border. Who is she kidding ?!

I grew up in one of the most militarised areas of Europe. We all remember these pictures too well…This was our normality!
Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts!

#southarmagh #brexitshambles

With many thanks to: Megan Fearson for the original posting.

Follow this link to find out more about the Anti-Catholic, Anti-Gay, Anti Irish and Homophobic DUP: https://amp-belfasttelegraph-co-uk.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/amp.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/arlene-fosters-feed-the-crocodiles-snap-could-come-back-to-bite-her-35431386.html?usqp=mq331AQCCAE%3D&amp_js_v=a2&amp_gsa=1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.belfasttelegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fpolitics%2Farlene-fosters-feed-the-crocodiles-snap-could-come-back-to-bite-her-35431386.html

What is an Irish Hard Border from an Irish Catholic point of view because of Brexit? = well the answer to that question depends on whither you are a Catholic or a Prodestent. At the moment we have ‘free movement’s in Ireland (North and South) and after Brexit that ‘free movement’ will end forever. The majority of the population in the North of Ireland voted against Brexit as did Scotland and Wales. What was voted for in England 🇬🇧 should never be forced upon the Celtic Nation’s. It was an English choice not ours! We as Catholics are a minority in the North of Ireland and the DUP are trying their very best to undermine the conditions of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’. Which they agreed to and signed up to in 1998. Brexit is against all of the principal’s signed up to in the agreement.

 

Follow this link to find out more: https://amp-belfasttelegraph-co-uk.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/amp.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/dups-arlene-foster-says-there-was-never-a-hard-border-in-ireland-37714456.html?usqp=mq331AQCCAE%3D&amp_js_v=a2&amp_gsa=1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.belfasttelegraph.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fnorthern-ireland%2Fdups-arlene-foster-says-there-was-never-a-hard-border-in-ireland-37714456.html

“Come’on Arelene you know what I mean” this is the ‘hard border’ we both grow up with. Sure are you not a Fermanagh Lassie??
Arelene what did you call this then? #deluded #confused #abitlikebrexit

Peter Hain: Open border and Good Friday Agreement ‘should not be touched’ in Brexit talks

Former North of Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain says that the Good Friday agreement and an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland “should not be touched.”

He told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that the open border issue is the Achilles heel of Brexit and that common customs and a single market agreement are the only solutions to the Irish border.

Peter Hain
The Irish government is right and should not budge on the matter of the Good Friday Agreement, he said.

READ MORE:
Talks needed to find hard border solution says DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson
“It is an international treaty.”

The Labour peer added that he could not see the Irish government agreeing to a bilateral deal, as they could not because it would breach EU regulations.

The Good Friday Agreement is a bilateral agreement between the Republic and the UK, but it is underpinned internationally and to seek any changes would “lead back to Brussels, as it should,” said Mr Hain.

“This is getting messier by the day. The red line should be avoiding a hard border and maintaining the Good Friday Agreement.

To tamper with the Good Friday Agreement is to tamper with the peace process and should be avoided.

He described the current situation in the UK as “an astonishing mess” that was “unprecedented in living memory.”

The British government was “in absolute shambles with no one clear answer.”

There is a need to go back to basics, he said, but the Good Friday Agreement and the open border should not be touched.

When asked about the bombing in Derry at the weekend, he said that in times of uncertainty and instability there was an opportunity for terrorists and troublemakers who always wanted to undermine the peace process.

He said he could not see the “Derry/Londonderry bomb separate from this shambles.”

With many thanks to: The Irish Examiner 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

Red Cross to chair forum seeking solution to Maghaberry dispute.

Red Cross to chair forum seeking solution to Maghaberry dispute.

THE International Committee of the Red Cross has agreed to chair a prison forum involving republican inmates in a bid to ease tensions at a Co Antrim jail.

The Red Cross took on the role after being asked by justice minister David Ford and receiving the backing of republican prisoners in Maghaberry. The involvement of the internationally recognised humanitarian organisation comes after years of conflict at the high security prison. The establishment of the forum was recommended by an independent ‘stocktake’ published last year. However, republican inmates refused to take part in the forum after a former member of the prison’s Board of Visitors, Tom Millar, was appointed as chairman without consultation. It is understood both prisoners and senior jail officials will take part in the forum which will discuss the stocktake. Republican prisoners are currently held in the prison’s Roe Four and Roe Three landings. The forum will be chaired by Geoff Loane, who is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) head of office in Belfast. “The ICRC believes such a role fits within the organisation’s humanitarian mandate and is compatible with its fundamental principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality,” he said.
“After having consulted on this matter, the ICRC accepted the position of chair for a six-month period on the basis that all parties to the forum agree to the ICRC taking up the role. He said the forum is “now addressing substantive issues on the basis of an agreed agenda.” In the past Mr Loane has overseen ICRC visits to the US-run Guantanamo Bay. He has also worked in conflict zones including the Balkans, Middle East and the Horn of Africa. The Red Cross has been active in the North of Ireland since the 1950s and undertook prison visits until 1999, a year after the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was signed. The Geneva-based organisation set up a full-time office in Belfast in 2011. Last year’s stocktake was carried out by an independent assessment team appointment by justice minister David Ford to look at a deal struck in 2010 to relax strip searches and controlled movement in the prison. Republicans claim that authorities have failed to implement the 2010 agreement. They also say that prison chiefs have failed to act on the last year’s stocktake. In 2012 republican prisoners ended a no-wash protest weeks after prison officer David Black was shot dead by the ‘IRA’ as he travelled to work at Maghaberry prison along the M1 Motorway. Tensions in the jail boiled over earlier this year after prisoners claimed that movement was restricted during building work. Last week republicans held protests after claims that two inmates were forcibly moved from their cells. A spokesman for the DoJ said: “The minister of justice has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to act as independent chair to the prisoners forums for separated prisoners. “The ICRC has agreed to this request in its neutral and impartial role.” Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association (IRPWA) said: “Republican  political prisioners will not be drawn into a situation which is all process and no progress even if it is chaired by an independent body such as ICRC.” Connla Young, The Irish News. For the oranginal story.

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