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Irlanda

Unacceptable for one party to block Stormont, says Irish PM

The Guardian - Ven, 20/05/2022 - 6:36pm

Micheál Martin visits Belfast to try to break deadlock over DUP’s opposition to Brexit protocol

Ireland’s taoiseach has said it is unacceptable for one party in Northern Ireland to block others from taking power, as he visited Belfast to try to break the deadlock over the Brexit protocol and power-sharing at Stormont.

After meetings with party leaders, Micheál Martin said the Northern Ireland assembly and executive should be formed while negotiations continued between the UK government and the EU over the protocol. “Our view is there should be parallel discussions,” he said as he urged the DUP to abandon its decision not to return to power-sharing until “decisive action” was taken over reforms to Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements.

Earlier he said it was “unheard of in a democratic world” that a parliament could not convene after an election. “We can’t have a situation where one political party determines that the other political parties can’t convene in a parliament,” he said.

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US delegation arrives in Europe for talks on Northern Ireland and Brexit

The Guardian - Ven, 20/05/2022 - 9:20am

Nine-strong team led by close Biden ally will visit Brussels, Dublin and London in significant intervention on division over NI protocol

One of Joe Biden’s closest allies is due to arrive in London on Saturday as part of an influential US congressional delegation seeking to calm tensions over Northern Ireland.

The nine-strong delegation includes Democratic and Republican delegates from the House of Representatives and Senate including members of the powerful ways and means committee chaired by Richard Neal, who will lead the group.

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Doncaster and Milton Keynes among eight towns awarded city status

The Guardian - Ven, 20/05/2022 - 7:00am

Stanley in Falkland Islands also becomes city after contest marking Queen’s platinum jubilee year

Doncaster, Milton Keynes and Stanley in the Falkland Islands have been awarded city status, approved by the Queen, in a competition being held as part of the platinum jubilee celebrations, the Cabinet Office has announced.

The eight winners of the 2022 Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours competition, also included Bangor in Northern Ireland, Colchester in England, Douglas on the Isle of Man, Dunfermline in Scotland and Wrexham in Wales.

Bangor (pop 61,000) in Northern Ireland was a key site for allied forces during the second world war, with supreme commander Dwight D Eisenhower giving a speech to 30,000 assembled troops there shortly before ships left for Normandy and the D-day invasion. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Bangor Castle in 1961 before lunch at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club in the run-up to Prince Philip racing in the regatta. Previously, Edward VII had visited in 1903.

Colchester (pop 122,000) is Britain’s first recorded settlement and its first capital, and for the past 165 years has been a garrison town. Firstsite, its contemporary art gallery, was named Art Fund museum of the year in 2021.

Doncaster (population 110,000) highlighted that its “community spirit and resilience was demonstrated during the Doncaster floods in 2019 as the community rallied to provide relief”. Originally a Roman settlement, it is home to the St Leger, founded in 1776 and the oldest classic horse race in the world, regularly attended by royals since George IV. It has made three previous attempts for city status.

Douglas (pop 27,000) has links to the royal family through the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which originated there, with George IV as first patron, and the Queen patron today. Its cultural highlights include the annual Manx Music Festival, dating from 1892, and the Isle of Man Film Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Dunfermline’s (pop 56,000) most famous son is probably Andrew Carnegie, whose steel and industry helped build the US, and whose philanthropy started the world’s public library system, according to Dunfermline’s bid. Its royal links stretch back to the reign of Malcolm III, king of Scotland from 1058-1093, when he set up his court there.

Milton Keynes (pop 223,000), a new town started in the Queen’s reign, is described in its bid as “the pinnacle of the national postwar planning movement”. Today it has 27 conservation areas, 50 scheduled monuments, 1,100 listed building and 270 pieces of public art.

Stanley, in the Falklands, (pop 2,100) has been regularly visited by members of the royal family, including Prince William, who spent six weeks based there as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. This year marks 40 years since the Falklands conflict.

Wrexham (pop 42,500) boasts the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a Unesco world heritage site described as a “masterpiece of creative genius”. It is also home to Wrexham Football Club, established in 1864 and said to be the third oldest in the UK and with the world’s oldest international ground. In the past decade, Wrexham has become one of the fastest-growing retail centres in the UK.

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Boris Johnson and I agreed on Northern Ireland. What happened to that good faith? | Leo Varadkar

The Guardian - Ven, 20/05/2022 - 7:00am

The EU’s flexibility has been met by the UK government talking about scrapping the protocol and breaching international law

  • Leo Varadkar is Ireland’s tánaiste (deputy prime minister), and was taoiseach during Brexit negotiations

In October 2019 I met Boris Johnson in the Wirral. It was an appropriately “neutral” venue, and I was happy to meet the prime minister in the north-west of England. At the time, controversy surrounded the backstop, which the European Union had negotiated with the former prime minister Theresa May. This mechanism was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, and to protect Ireland’s place in the EU single market while respecting Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market. It would have kept the whole of the United Kingdom close to the European single market on regulations and customs rules, thus removing the need for many of the checks between Britain and Northern Ireland that are currently required.

May’s commitment to the union was so strong and genuine that she was willing to opt for a “soft” Brexit to protect it. I was keen to hear whether Johnson had any suggestions that could resolve the impasse, and perhaps develop into an alternative to the backstop. We had a very good meeting, much of it conducted in private, one-on-one. We both wanted a deal. I felt that we understood each other’s needs and red lines. A crucial point was democratic consent: we both agreed that only the Northern Ireland assembly should be allowed to revoke any solution that we agreed.

Leo Varadkar is Ireland’s tánaiste (deputy prime minister), and was taoiseach during Brexit negotiations

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A vision of Ireland

The Irish World - Gio, 19/05/2022 - 7:43pm

Dublin troubadour James Vincent McMorrow told David Hennessy how he wants to show a vision of Ireland at the upcoming Imagining Ireland showcase at the Barbican, why being Irish is the best thing that ever happened to him and how he approached his new album from a different perspective. “I think it’s going to be […]

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EU ambassador rejects Liz Truss’s demand to rewrite NI protocol

The Guardian - Gio, 19/05/2022 - 5:42pm

João Vale de Almeida warns of retaliation if UK passes law disapplying aspects of agreement

The EU ambassador to the UK has rejected Liz Truss’s demand that the Northern Ireland protocol be rewritten, and issued a blunt warning of retaliation if the government passes a law disapplying aspects of the agreement.

“Unilateral calls for unilateral; action calls for action,” João Vale de Almeida told journalists at Westminster.

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UK government to accelerate abortion services delivery in Northern Ireland

The Guardian - Gio, 19/05/2022 - 1:42pm

Legislation will bypass local authorities that have delayed the rollout of services

The UK government has announced plans to accelerate the delivery of abortion services in Northern Ireland almost three years after they were legalised in the region.

Brandon Lewis, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, told parliament on Thursday he was introducing legislation to bypass local authorities who had delayed the rollout of services.

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Centenary of the Special Powers Act 1922

An Phoblacht - Gio, 19/05/2022 - 11:07am
The Special Powers Act, one of the most repressive pieces of legislation ever enacted anywhere, was extensively used for 50 years by the Unionist regime in the Six Counties.
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Inflation rockets and still no Tory plan

The Guardian - Gio, 19/05/2022 - 6:00am

Inflation has jumped to 9% putting renewed pressure on the government to take action on the cost of living crisis. John Harris is joined by Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff and the Guardian political correspondent Peter Walker to talk about what the government might do, finally

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Silent witness

The Irish World - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 8:46pm

Writer/ director Colm Bairéad told David Hennessy about The Quiet Girl breaking new ground for an Irish language film, a new resurgence for the language and why he wanted to give a child a voice in a time when they were to be ‘seen and not heard’. After proving a sensational success by winning big […]

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Going solo

The Irish World - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 8:38pm

Kildare songstress Heidi Talbot told David Hennessy about her new album made after the break up of her marriage, why it was time to make a country record and how she had no masterplan for her career. Recorded in one soundproofed room as she looked after her two daughters and negotiated the split from her […]

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Boris Johnson ‘choosing to let people struggle’ with cost of living says Keir Starmer – as it happened

The Guardian - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 6:53pm

This live blog is now closed. You can find our latest cost of living stories below:

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, has warned that inflation will experience a further “bump” before prices are likely to stabilise.

In a Q&A after delivering a speech on green trade at Bloomberg’s HQ in London, she said countries around the world were facing a “a global battle against inflation”. She went on:

This is something we have to tackle across the board.

And the worry we always have is that inflation tends to have two bumps to it.

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UK must accept border on Irish Sea is inevitable, says ex-WTO chief

The Guardian - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 4:52pm

Pascal Lamy says row is solvable if PM stops using emotional Brexit politics to solve ‘technical problem’

Boris Johnson’s row with the EU over Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements is “absolutely solvable” but only if the UK accepts that a border is inevitable, the former head of the World Trade Organization has said.

But Pascal Lamy said the prime minister could only achieve a breakthrough if he stopped mixing “oil and vinegar” and throwing emotional Brexit politics on to what he said was essentially a technical problem.

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The unforgiving

The Irish World - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 3:49pm

Cork actress Eileen Walsh told David Hennessy about her new play Girl on an Altar, how she is drawn to the work of playwright Marina Carr and why Magdalene Sisters remains so close to her heart 20 years after the film was made. Eileen Walsh is recognisable from screen roles such as the hard hitting […]

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UK threat over NI Brexit deal ‘breeding mistrust in EU capitals’

The Guardian - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 11:12am

Anger and disbelief within EU at UK’s position given goodwill Boris Johnson has built up over Ukraine

The British government’s plan to walk away from parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit deal is destroying the repaired relationship with the EU, political leaders and diplomats have said.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, told a business dinner in Dublin on Tuesday night that the move was “breeding mistrust in EU capitals”.

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A note to students: read the greats of Northern Irish literature. Then watch Derry Girls | Caroline Magennis

The Guardian - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 11:00am

As an academic, I tried to explain what it was like for me growing up in Northern Ireland. Then I found that this great sitcom did it better

  • Caroline Magennis is a reader in 20th and 21st century literature at the University of Salford

I teach a module about Northern Irish literature called Alternative Ulster, which covers all the texts you would expect, from the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Medbh McGuckian and Ciaran Carson and the fiction of Bernard MacLaverty through to newer writing such as Paul Maddern’s anthology Queering the Green and the short fiction of Lucy Caldwell. But in the last few years – initially just as a treat at the end of the course – we also started talking about Derry Girls.

It soon became clear that this was the most powerful way to discuss the ideas I had wanted to convey all semester. My students are from a range of backgrounds, but Derry Girls is an absolute hit for all of them. Especially at a time where British-Irish relations are at the forefront of the news agenda, it allows us to talk about some other important things: joy, resilience, 90s music and how Manchester is actually a bit like Derry.

Caroline Magennis is a reader in 20th and 21st century literature at the University of Salford

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Omagh bomb suspect Liam Campbell extradited to Lithuania

The Guardian - Mer, 18/05/2022 - 12:46am

Man held liable for the Omagh bombing, is due to face charges related to weapons smuggling for the Real IRA

The man found civilly liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing in which 29 people were killed has been extradited to Lithuania after a lengthy legal process.

The Irish supreme court ruled last week that Liam Campbell could be extradited to the Baltic country in relation to offences of smuggling, the possession of firearms and terrorism.

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Irritation all round at handling of move against Brexit protocol

The Guardian - Mar, 17/05/2022 - 8:52pm

Analysis: leak blindsided US officials, caused shock waves in Europe and appears to have annoyed No 10

Given that it has just announced a bill that could spark a trade war in the middle of a cost of living crisis, it is remarkable how often members of the government say that what they want is for everyone to calm down.

The intention to legislate is now formally announced but when the bill will be seen by MPs is intentionally unclear. The Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, says it was never meant to be this week. Of course it wasn’t. Now the only commitment is “before the summer”.

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The Guardian view on the Northern Ireland protocol bill: provocative and needless | Editorial

The Guardian - Mar, 17/05/2022 - 7:51pm

At a time of economic crisis, Liz Truss has risked a downward spiral in relations with the EU for no good reason

At the recent Stormont elections, a majority of voters supported parties that broadly back the Northern Ireland protocol. Local business leaders have urged Boris Johnson to abandon the threat to unilaterally tear parts of it up, which would risk a trade war with the European Union when inflation rates are soaring and recession is looming. Sadly, what is truly best for Northern Ireland has rarely been allowed to disrupt this government’s choreographed games of Brexit brinkmanship with Brussels.

Tuesday’s Commons statement on the protocol by the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, was more measured in tone than some of the confrontational briefings around last week. But the tabling of a bill to abandon aspects of a treaty signed less than three years ago – when it was described as “oven-ready” – is irresponsible and recklessly destabilising. Ms Truss airily stated that the proposed legislation would not be in breach of international law, but failed to offer any evidence for that assertion. The EU was swift to warn that whatever legal casuistry may be forthcoming, it could respond to such a move with “all measures at its disposal”, which could mean shelving the entire post-Brexit free trade deal.

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Any correlation between the truth and what Liz Truss said was entirely coincidental

The Guardian - Mar, 17/05/2022 - 7:24pm

Tories’ Brexit derangement syndrome was in full swing as Truss gave statement on plan to disapply Northern Ireland protocol

There was going to be hell to pay when Liz Truss found out who had negotiated, agreed and signed the Northern Ireland protocol. What’s more, no one had ever said there was an election-winning, oven-ready Brexit deal on the table back in 2019. That was the kind of shameless lie only opposition parties could tell …

Boris Johnson has the knack of bringing everyone down to his level in the end. Corrupt, narcissistic, incompetent. The foreign secretary is just the latest – if entirely complicit – victim in this. So when she came to the Commons to give her statement on government plans to disapply the Northern Ireland protocol, Truss was in a full-on state of denial. Any correlation between what she said and the truth was entirely coincidental. And if she had accidentally mouthed the odd truth she would definitely make sure that she never made that mistake again.

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