Unionist leaders have difficulty with a shared society never mind entering into a debate about a United Ireland !!


Sinn Féin leader in the North of Ireland and leader of the DUP Arlene Foster

This is odious language. There are no “vexatious prosecutions” in this jurisdiction. In the context of current talks!!!

Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy and NI Secretary of State Julian Smith

Relatives 4 Justice

This is odious language. There are no “vexatious prosecutions” in this jurisdiction. In the context of current talks

Let England hang her name in shame #BloodySunday #Ballymurphy

must clarify to families tonight if this is his Gov policy or will this Gov meet its legal obligations to families under international law?

Quote Tweet
Johnny Mercer

Transparent goal setting in public office is important. You pay my wages; here’s the priorities




7:28 PM · Jan 3, 2020Twitter for iPhone
With many thanks to: Johnny Mercer for the original posting on Twitter 

“If You Have Border Installations, People Will Shoot at Them”


The true cause of our backstop obsession

The protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is the clearest demonstration yet of how difficult it is to “take back control” of national borders

When the Withdrawal Agreement comes back to the House of Commons, the prime minister will seek to present a sturdy bridge over the stumbling block of the so-called “Irish backstop.” Why is it that the whole deal—and perhaps even the process of Brexit itself—will stand or fall on this one aspect of the 585 page Agreement?

The obsession with the backstop can be understood because it is the clearest iteration we have had to date of the difficult choices and challenges facing the UK on exiting the EU. Such dilemmas all centre on what it means to “take back control” of national borders.

At the moment, what it means to lose free movement of goods, people, services and capital can be left quite ambiguous—and still, some might say, in the land of unicorns and cake—in the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship. In fact, the consequences of this have never been spelled out by the British government. Except when it comes to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

The Protocol has been written up in some detail precisely because the UK and EU need to be sure how to handle this most sensitive of borders if (and this is a big “if”) the relationship between the UK and EU becomes much more distant or even more frosty in future. Or, more likely, if they are simply bogged down in the detail of negotiating the future trade agreement and the alarm clock—that the UK insisted on setting for a short time hence—starts ringing. We could run up against our self-imposed deadline for the pursuit of other options.

People don’t like the backstop for different reasons, and this reflects the various dimensions of border control. Some don’t like the whole UK being in a customs territory with the EU as a means of avoiding customs controls. Some don’t like the differentiated arrangements for Northern Ireland as a means of avoiding regulatory barriers across the Irish border. Many don’t like the fact that the backstop itself has no expiry date, so as to ensure it is there as a safety net for unforeseen events. Others do not like the condition that both parties have to agree for it to be discontinued, in order to ensure orderly and cooperative border management.

The truth is that implementing the backstop would be uncomfortable. If being part of it is a darn nuisance, then the hope would be that this concentrates minds on trying to come up with more stable alternative arrangements. (And let me note here that those “alternative arrangements” will not be technological solutions per se. Technology is not an “arrangement” in itself but a means of improving the efficient implementation of laws and policies).

That so much rests on the backstop at this point just highlights the ironies and misconceptions that have bedevilled all discussion of it so far. The first irony—to return to my original point—is that although it is the only bit we know in some detail about what the future UK-EU relationship might entail: it is not what either the UK or the EU want for the future relationship.

As noted above, there are myriad reasons why the UK doesn’t like it. They can be simply summarised thus: because it entails compromise. The EU doesn’t like it for the same reason, but from a different perspective. It entails compromise of the EU’s customs union. The UK would have tariff free and quota free access to the EU, to avoid customs controls on the Irish land or sea border.

And it entails compromise of the single market. For it breaks up the four freedoms: effectively allowing free movement of goods to and from Northern Ireland but not the other three. It also means that Northern Ireland would be outside the EU but treated as if it were part of the single market in some areas, including agriculture—a privilege that even the non-EU members of the European Economic Area do not have. This is a huge ask of the EU, which is so protective of its single market and so suspicious (with no small cause) of British agri-food, especially meat products.

And there is second irony in all of this. Whilst British MPs complain about being “trapped” in a customs union or Northern Ireland “tied into” the single market, they miss the fundamental point: that as Article 1.3 of the Protocol makes clear, what we see in the backstop is purely what the EU is prepared to do for the “unique circumstances on the island of Ireland.”

Be in no doubt that when the negotiations on the future relationship begin, we will see far less ambiguity and flexibility from the EU. It is not only the UK that is interested in “taking back control.”

With many thanks to: Prospect Magazine for the original posting


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

Why the furture of the North of Ireland is crucial to Brexit negotiations

As a recent poll causes grave concern among senior Tories on all sides of the argument, Sam Coates, the Times deputy political editor, breaks down ten key reasons the province has become critical to the debate

Theresa May’s decision to challenge Jacob Rees-Mogg over the future of Northern Ireland comes amid mounting nerves in No 10 about the future of the union after Brexit.

Downing Street and key ministers have been shown polling from October that suggests opinion in the province is drifting towards a united Ireland. Another finding suggests that leaving the EU with no deal on the border could shift voters in Northern Ireland decisively in favour of leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Irish Republic.

Tory MPs are discussing the issue, with Brexiteers furiously rejecting the findings and insisting that any future border poll on a united Ireland would be winnable. One European Research Group (ERG) source said Mrs May’s insistence that the union may be at risk could “amazingly quickly [amount to] signing her death warrant”, adding “I really won’t be surprised by leadership chatter this weekend”.

Meanwhile other senior Tories are warning that intrusive technology used to enforce a “smart border” could also undermine support for the constitutional status quo among moderate nationalists. One idea for a British government smartphone app to track movement across the border is causing particular concern, amid fears that it would be unacceptable to republicans in the North.

Mrs May rejected claims by Mr Rees-Mogg that a referendum on the reunification would be easily won at a private meeting on Monday night. She argued that she was not prepared to take risks with the integrity of the Union. The intervention was seen by some Remain-supporting Tory MPs as an important argument in their favour, while angering hard Brexiteers who form part of the ERG.

The constitutional future of Northern Ireland is a live issue. Under the Belfast Agreement Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, is obliged to hold a poll “if at any time it appears likely to him (or her) that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”.

Sinn Fein seized on today’s story in The Times to suggest that a new referendum on Northern Ireland should be called immediately.

Michelle O’Neill, the Sinn Fein deputy leader, said: “If these reports are accurate, Theresa May is conceding that the Good Friday agreement threshold for triggering a Unity poll has been met but that she isn’t prepared to allow the people of Ireland, North and South, to exercise their democratic right.

“That is an appalling display of contempt for the democratic rights of Irish citizens. It is also a fundamental breach of the Good Friday agreement which clearly provides for a referendum. Theresa May has no right to deny democratic entitlements to the people of Ireland, North and South.”

This renewed constitutional uncertainty comes on the day the Scottish parliament is preparing to vote to deny legislative consent on the EU withdrawal bill, the first time that Holyrood and Westminster have clashed in this way, raising the constitutional temperature.

1. Polling suggests opinion shifting marginally on a united Ireland
In October 2017, 2,080 voters in Northern Ireland were asked by the pollster LucidTalk whether “Northern Ireland should remain a part of the United Kingdom or leave the United Kingdom and join the Republic of Ireland as one nation”. Some 55 per cent said Ireland should remain part of the UK and 34 per cent said it should leave and join the Republic, with 10 per cent undecided and 1 per cent declining to say.

The pollster adds: “This margin is less than previous polls. Noticeably there are a high number of undecided — but [they] would be voters in such a poll.”

2. A hard Brexit — involving ‘no deal’ — could shift opinion in Northern Ireland decisively
This is the finding which is causing concern among some senior Tory MPs.

In DecemberLucidTalk asked 2,079 Northern Irish voters how they would vote in a border poll “in the context of a hard Brexit’ and Northern Ireland leaving the EU with no deal on the border, the Good Friday agreement or citizen’s rights. The question in the referendum would be “should Northern Ireland remain in the EU through joining the Republic of Ireland or leave the EU by staying in the UK.”

The pollster recorded 48 per cent saying they would remain in the EU by joining the Irish Republic in a United Ireland and 45 per cent saying they would leave the EU by staying in the UK. Six per cent were undecided and 1 per cent would not vote.

3. The October ‘tracking’ poll should be taken more seriously than the December “no deal” poll
Anthony Wells, director of political polling at YouGov, gives the poll taken in October about leaving a clean bill of health. “The question about whether NI should stay, and the results, can be taken at face value as a prediction of how people would vote if there actually was a vote at that point.”

However he suggests that people should be cautious about relying on the “hard Brexit” poll. He said: “The bottom line is that this relies on a series of hypothetical questions. If you ask ‘how would you vote in a referendum under these particular set of circumstances’, firstly people aren’t very good at predicting their own behaviour and secondly this gives certain factors undue prominence. In a real border poll there all sorts of other factors taken into consideration — history, the economy, politics and so on — but this question is worded with Brexit at the forefront, ahead of all other considerations.”

LucidTalk also says the “hard border” question was commissioned by “Gue/ngl”, the European Parliament group which includes Sinn Fein.

4. The circumstances in which Mrs May’s customs decision could change the already fluid dynamic in Northern Ireland
In cabinet, Philip Hammond, Greg Clark, Karen Bradley and David Gauke have pushed for a so-called customs partnership, which would mean the UK collecting customs dues on behalf of the EU after Brexit. So long as standards for British goods remain closely aligned with the EU after Brexit, they claim this removes the need for a border between NI and the Republic.

Brexiteers, including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox, want the “maximum facilitation” option. This involves a “facilitation” agreement with the EU, which would see both sides waving certain goods through the border without checks so long as advanced technology is used to monitor the situation.

5. Why there are fears intrusive technological solutions could be a problem for moderate nationalist areas of Northern Ireland
David Davis is pushing for smart technologies to be deployed to avoid physical checks. These could include automatic number plate recognition via CCTV cameras and drones, all of which would be a magnet for gangs.

However, there are fears that more sophisticated techniques bring their own challenges. A European parliament report suggested that one solution would be smartphone apps: “Information for goods and passengers can be exchanged through smartphone apps. This can include the provision of minimum information when crossing a border and the receipt of information (e.g. a barcode) by drivers to facilitate passing the border.” Another suggestion is that businesses on both sides of the border open their computer systems to the British government so goods can be tracked. A Tory source said: “How can we expect moderate republicans to submit to a British government tracking app being installed on their phones? This is just unreal.”

6. There is still the possibility of a compromise on customs
If Mrs May cannot agree the “max fac” or “customs partnership” options within the next two weeks, she will need a fudge. The most likely is that she promises the “max fac” option — eventually — but delays leaving the customs union by five or six years. This would be unacceptable to some Brexiteers, including Messrs Johnson, GoveRees-Mogg, but the prime minister may hope that arguments about the integrity of the union buy off enough of the rest.

7. The DUP want to leave the customs union — but it isn’t a red line
In a little-noticed ConservativeHome interview, Nigel Dodds, the DUP Westminster leader, said their only “absolute red line” was a border in the Irish Sea. The party does not believe that staying inside the customs union respects the referendum result. However, he adds: “We believe that the proposals put forward by the prime minister in the paper last August for either a customs partnership, whereby we would collect the revenues and then pay them back if the goods go to Europe, or the maximum facilitation streamlined approach, we believe in that, but we don’t believe in staying in the customs union.

“But at the end of the day, as long as Northern Ireland is in lockstep with the rest of the United Kingdom, for us that’s the fundamental point.”

8. What Brexiteers say publicly about these challenges
The Times reported last night that Mr Rees-Mogg, chairman of the 60-strong ERG downplayed the risk of losing a referendum on a united Ireland. Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg said he was not minded to adopt a more conciliatory position

“If we were to do so it would completely undermine the heart of why we voted to leave, rendering our almost-reclaimed sovereignty a myth,” he said. He repeated calls for Britain to walk away from the negotiations if the options Mrs May gave the European Commission were rejected. “The UK will simply have to leave with no deal because the referendum result must be upheld,” he said. “Democracy is the backbone of established political societies; it fosters stability and fairness and cannot be treated so disdainfully.”

9. What Brexiteers say privately about Mrs May’s intervention and the government position
One ERG source said the prime minister’s position was “purposeless and inexplicable”, repeating the fears over a united Ireland was “unbelievably stupid” and that a border poll would be won by the union “comfortably”. They warn it veers “amazingly quickly to signing her death warrant”, adding “I really won’t be surprised by leadership chatter this weekend”.

10. What happens next
Mrs May has about two weeks left for her cabinet and party to come to an agreement that can pass parliament. It remains to be seen whether she has set herself too many red lines.

With many thanks to: The Times and The Sunday Times for the origional story.

Woman of Aran who lived to age 109


BRIDGET DIRRANE: Bridget Dirrane, who died aged 109 in 2003 was Ireland’s second oldest woman.

In a life that spanned three centuries, the Cumann na mBan veteran met Padraig Pearse, went on hunger-strike in Mountjoy, worked in John F. Kennedy’s election campaigns, and was the oldest recipient of an honorary university degree.
The latter distinction earned her a place in The Guinness Book of Records. Her memoir, A Woman of Aran, published in 1998, was a best-seller.
On the occasion of her 105th birthday, when asked if she had expected to live so long, Bridget Dirrane replied, “not really, but my sister Julia did live to be a 100”. She attributed her longevity to a strong religious faith, a good upbringing and a healthy diet. Last February she was highly amused to hear her death reported on Today with Pat Kenny and promptly despatched a correction.
Éamon de Valera was the Irish political leader she admired above all others.
To the end, she maintained a keen interest in current affairs and was an enthusiastic supporter of the peace process, and she earnestly wished for a permanent peace. Of today’s IRA, she said: “They don’t know what they’re fighting for. I wouldn’t approve of all they do, but it’s up to them. They’ll have to answer for their misdeeds.”
Bridget Dirrane was born Bridget Gillan, the youngest of the eight children of Joseph Gillan and his wife, Margaret (née Walsh), at Oatquarter, Inis Mór. Her father was a weaver and wove the cloth for the clothes worn by the young Liam O Flaherty.
She encountered tragedy early in life. Her brother, Patrick, died shortly after she began attending school and her father died when she was eight. On the whole, however, her childhood was happy and she shared the family love of music and dancing.
From an early age, she wanted to be a nurse. “I had the knack of it. I knew the cures, as my mother had.” She left school at 14 and worked intermittently as a childminder.
Among the visitors to Inis Mór whom she met were Padraig Pearse, Thomas Ashe, Eamonn Ceannt, and Joseph Mary Plunkett.
Bridget Dirrane left Inis Mór to work as a childminder in Tuam, Co Galway, and later moved to Knockavilla, Co Tipperary, where she became housekeeper to Father Matt Ryan, a Land League veteran and republican supporter. There she joined Cumann na mBan.
In 1919 she began training as a nurse at St Ultan’s Children’s Hospital, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Part of her duties entailed nursing patients in their homes. On one such occasion, the house was raided by the Black and Tans, and Bridget Dirrane was arrested. Taken to the Bridewell, she infuriated her captors by dancing and singing in Irish. On her transfer to Mountjoy Prison, she embarked on a hunger strike. After nine days she was released without charge.
One of her most abiding memories of the War of Independence was the execution of Kevin Barry. She took part in a Cumann na mBan vigil outside Mountjoy on the morning that he was hanged. “We heard the death bell and then there was silence.”
Dirrane opposed the Treaty, and the Civil War caused her great anguish. Nevertheless, she later took a job caring for the family of Gen Richard Mulcahy, the bête noire of anti-Treatyites.
She retained fond memories of the family to the end of her days, particularly of Risteárd who became one of Ireland’s leading heart specialists.
In 1927, at the age of 33, she emigrated to the US and found work nursing in Boston. Shortly after her arrival, she met Edward (Ned) Dirrane, an island neighbour; they married in 1932. During the Depression, the Dirranes worked long and hard to make ends meet. Roosevelt’s New Deal brought some relief, but before the couple could enjoy the benefits of economic recovery, Ned Dirrane died suddenly in 1940.
When the US entered the second World War, Dirrane worked for two years as plant nurse in a munitions factory and later tended soldiers at the Biloxi military base in Mississippi. On her return to south Boston, she became an active Democratic supporter, canvassing for John F. Kennedy in many elections.
In 1966, after 39 years in the US and now retired, she decided that it was time to return to Aran. She moved in with her brother-in-law, Patrick Dirrane, a widower whose three sons were then living abroad. To show good example, the couple married.
At the age of 73, Dirrane oversaw the renovation of her new home, Cliff Edge Cottage, mixing cement and helping to slate the roof. She also planted the flowers and trees around the cottage. Her greatest joy was to help in the rearing of the children of her step-son Coleman and his wife, Margaret.
Dirrane was quick to embrace change and flew on Aer Aran’s inaugural flight to the islands. She welcomed the growth of tourism and the employment it generated. But she bemoaned the stress of modern life. “Today, unfortunately, people don’t have the time to bid each other the time of day. Everybody seems to be rushing to the graveyard!”
Among the visitors to her home were Senator Edward Kennedy and the former US ambassador Ms Jean Kennedy-Smith. When Ms Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first Freewoman of the City of Galway in 1999, Bridget Dirrane was on hand to meet her. By then, she was a resident in a Galway nursing home, her husband having died in 1990. She had been awarded the Master of Arts honoris causa by NUI Galway in 1998 in recognition of her rich and varied life and her service to others.
Bridget Dirrane was a devout Catholic and, to mark her 100th birthday, she purchased a stone statue of Our Lady which was erected at the Well of The Four Beauties, Inis Mór. In her memoir, she intimated that she would leave no fortune behind her. “What I will leave is the sunshine to the flowers, honey to the bees, the moon above in the heavens for all those in love and my beloved Aran Islands to the seas.”
Bridget Dirrane is survived by her step-sons, Stephen, John, and Coleman. Bridget Dirrane: born 1894; died December 31st, 2003.


With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.