The Way Forward: Boris Johnson having his cake and eating it too?

Earlier this week, the UK Government released its ‘Command Paper’ entitled “Northern Ireland Protocol: The way forward”. One can almost imagine the EU negotiators exhaling an exasperated sigh, rubbing their temples, and remarking: “Really? They’re opening this can of worms again?” as the authors impress upon them (and us) the need for more “urgent talks” to “find a new balance for the Protocol”. In his opening remarks, Boris Johnson laments that “[t]he impact of the Protocol has been profound economically, …

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The genie of amnesty is out of the bottle. Not the last word, but the beginning of the end.

The British government’s announcement of a statute of limitations has not only united all parties against them.  It has also exposed the weaknesses of everybody’s positions including their own. All  other parties are insisting on a role for justice while admitting there’s very little hope left of achieving it. As justice for victims and relatives is unobtainable in most cases, what is the point of holding out for years for the remote chance of a trial?  After decades of deadlock …

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Legacy: Who are we moving on for?

Northern Ireland, it seems, has a problem with moving on. Decades (centuries) of strife and conflict. The pain, the trauma, all of it passed down from generation to generation. In the year of our lord 2021, we’re still angry about it all. Still hurt, still frustrated and in pain. Step forward the Prime Minister and his Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis.  They have seen the light and taken a bold, brave step to help us move forward. The government has …

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Sinn Féin disowns the amnesty deal it’s been asking for incessantly for over twenty years…

One advantage of running a blog over a long time having access to the archives. Indeed, the reasons I turned to blogging software all those years ago back in 2002 was I struggled to find an article from just three years earlier in the Irish Times. Initially I used Slugger as a researcher’s pin board on which you could trace not just the day to day pulses in the newsflows (very much a feature when the number of journalists writing …

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This time, it’s the Troubles legacy. Northern Ireland opinion on a key issue, even when substantially in agreement, is being overruled by Johnson’s Conservatives

The devil will be in the detail but as a example of news management in advance, the UK Government’s plans for a Troubles amnesty could hardly be worse for opinion in  Northern Ireland Veterans who served in Northern Ireland are finally set to be freed from the threat of prosecution. In a victory for the Daily Mail, a planned statute of limitations will today be announced covering all incidents during the Troubles. The move by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is …

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Amnesty would deny victim’s right to know and underwrite the toxic legacy of paramilitaries

The Moral Maze programme on BBC Radio Four for last week focused on the perennial question of Northern Ireland’s legacy and gave careful consideration as to what the consequences of declaring an amnesty for past crimes might be. The legacy processes don’t really work largely because it’s a hodgepodge of negotiated pleadings from the leading protagonists in the conflict. Less aimed at truth and reconciliation and more at giving maximum comfort to those political operators who, should prosecutions ever proceed, …

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Singing The Sash as Gaeilge – on the banks of The Boyne

Not one to shirk my duty in promoting cross-community relations, I am delighted to share my new video with the Slugger faithful this Twelfth Day of July. And here it is. The Sash. At The Boyne. In Irish! I’d been meaning to translate this Orange favourite into Irish for ages, but never quite got around to it until now. And I can’t think of anywhere better to sing it than “on the banks of that beautiful river”. I briefly toyed …

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In coming to the only realistic deal on medicines the EU admits Protocol is a work in progress

Research from QUB showed last week that the protocol splits the NI population right down the middle. I suspect that’s reflection of the unreal way the negotiation process within the joint committee is being projected by both sides. Newton Emerson gives a good example of how the material reality the EU has been projecting dematerialised rapidly under pressure from harsh reality: As the year progressed, it quickly became apparent the medicines sea border was a practical and political absurdity. Private …

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Northern Ireland needs a Protocol it can use and not be used by….

Politics is not devoid of emotion. It may or may not inform how outcomes are seen. The High Court may have concluded that the NI Protocol is not in breach of the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of consent. It feels otherwise. Many who in 1998, largely on the basis of that principle, with Europe barely a consideration, allowed their heads to rule their hearts and supported the Agreement, now perceive it as undermined. During the post-Brexit debates, there was …

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Underneath the chaos of the last few months political ground is beginning to shift…

Newton is a great deal more certain than I am that neither Sinn Féin nor the DUP will bring down Stormont before the next scheduled elections. There’s nothing wrong with his logic, it’s just that in the past neither have always conformed to logic. My own gut feeling is that the overall trend is now heading towards the middle. The DUP is clearly in trouble in North Down which is why their poll topper there has jumped to independent. They’ve always …

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