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Man overboard… to help build a new 32 county movement? November 15, 2018

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It’s not all Brexit, and Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín has resigned from the party, following his refusal to follow the party whip in relation to the amendment, with the following missive:

It is with a heavy heart that I resign from Sinn Féin today. I have been a member of the party for 21 years. In that time I poured all my efforts into achieving Irish Unity & Economic Justice. This clearly is no longer enough. I will now help to build a new 32 County movement.

What is this movement of which he speaks? Any thoughts as to his options?

Undesirable characters… November 15, 2018

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Some intriguing papers released this week in the latest volume of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy 1957-1961 as noted in the IT.
Perhaps most curious is the case of Otto Skorzeny’s bid for permanent residency in this state where one figure looms large:

A note from Conor Cruise O’Brien, then a senior official in the Department of External Affairs, in June 1957 refers to a visa application from Skorzeny, who is described as well known for his military exploits with “special” units of the German army in the second World War including his rescue of Mussolini.
“Skorzeny, who is now stateless, resides in Spain. He is on the UK Home Office Black List as an undesirable character. I think this means no more than that he made their faces red in the matter of Mussolini. We are not aware of any specific war crimes charges against him,” he wrote.

Oh well, that’s alright then.

And:

The secretary of the Department of Justice Peter Berry advised that Skorzeny be given permanent residency. His view was supported by his minister Oscar Traynor. However, minister for external affairs Frank Aiken strongly advised Justice against granting residence. In the end permission was refused.

O’Brien’s lack of concern is intriguing. I’ve read other comments of his during the same period and they’ve struck me as oddly flip. And it’s interesting how he himself perceived his own role, even early on. As Head of Information in the Department of External Affairs he was responsible for many publicity brochures and publications during the late 1940s and early 1950s (including notably the Anti-Partition Campaign materials). Yet in his autobiography he referenced this period of his career in passing mentioning a ‘lavishly-illustrated pamphlet celebrating Ireland’ that he was in charge of.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series November 15, 2018

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Brexit! What could possibly go wrong with that? November 15, 2018

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Could this possibly be the last of the Brexit columns, if a deal is struck? Unlikely. Brexit is a process, not an event, and it’s a process where the process itself is the problem.

The Conservative party is failing business in the pursuit of pushing through a Brexit deal, the head of one of Germany’s largest industrial firms in the UK has said.Terry Sargeant, the chairman and CEO of ThyssenKrupp in the UK, said the party was putting its own survival ahead of industry.As Theresa May struggles to win cabinet and EU support for her Brexit plan, Sargeant warned of a wave of layoffs if there was no deal.“It is a complete shambles. They have failed business. The Tory party aren’t making decisions for business, they are making decisions to prevent an implosion in their own party.”Sargeant said he was speaking out because the next generation of “working men and women” were going to be hit hardest by Brexit, which he said was an act of complete folly.

A no deal Brexit would “unravel” the North’s economy and potentially “leave it in tatters” because of its dependency on established all-island supply chains, the UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned.Seamus Leheny, policy manager for the association in Northern Ireland, said the latest cross-Border traffic figures suggest that on average 13,000 goods vehicles cross the border every day, which Mr Leheny said works out at around 541 every hour.He said this is equivalent to “a large freight ferry fully laden every 15 minutes, 24/7, 365 days a year”.Mr Leheny said latest confirmation from the North’s Department for Infrastructure that commercial vehicle operators in Northern Ireland will have “unrestricted access” to the Republic in the event of a no deal Brexit is a “promising step”.

British Airways owner IAG has been seeking Spanish government support to continue its operations in the wake of a disorderly Brexit.According to letters reported in Spanish newspaper El País, Spain’s government and Brussels doubt whether IAG’s status as an EU airline will be maintained under a no-deal scenario. Under EU airline ownership rules, carriers have to be majority owned by EU nationals and there are concerns that once UK shareholders are stripped out after 29 March, IAG might fall below the threshold.

How is this ‘agreement’ going to fly…and those UK polls November 15, 2018

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Reading the media this morning I am completely baffled as to how May thinks she can get this through the House of Commons.
And yet what are the alternatives – a no-deal Brexit? Part of the problem is that she and others opened the space immediately after the referendum for a hard to no-deal Brexit and was never able to claw that back. It was good politics, on a tactical level, lousy on a strategic level – since buying off the harder Brexit proponents was always destined to see a reckoning further down the line. Still hearing nonsense such as that written by Shailesh Vara (who he? Northern Ireland Secretary. Oh) who resigned overnight talking about ‘when we will finally be a sovereign nation’ is telling at this juncture. First of many resignations today? But even that is as nothing given the parliamentary arithmetic.

So, not a bad time either to cast an eye over UK polls, given the current churn of events in that polity. So, what do we see? Well, a very very small Tory lead.

According to UK Polling Report a YouGov post-Budget poll saw the following:

The voting intention figures in the poll are CON 41%(nc), LAB 39%(+3), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 5%(+1). The three point increase in Labour support doesn’t necessarily mean anything – it’s within the normal margin of error – but it certainly doesn’t point towards a budget boost for the Tories.

And and IPSOS MORI/Evening Standard poll some days earlier:

Topline voting intentions were CON 39%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 5%.

Not the worst position for the LP should matters go in a certain direction.

Meanwhile, no election here yet? November 14, 2018

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It strikes me the rolling events of Brexit are sucking any life out of the notion of an election this side of the Irish Sea. Indeed thinking about it it seems to me that the focus on the Presidential election was quite distinct from that on the Budget. It’s not that the latter was unimportant, but somehow this government is in a position where it’s largely expected to keep on going for a while – or perhaps after years of crisis people are stepping back a little. It’s an odd phenomenon because I know individual parties and candidates are keen to get back into the electoral fray (some of them anyhow).

Bodenstown? November 14, 2018

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A piece in History Ireland in the last edition caught my eye.

I should preface this by saying I visited Bodenstown once or twice if I recall correctly, in the 1980s with the WP. Dublin Buses were hired to bring people there and there was a very good turnout. I found the bands and so on interesting but oddly jarring in the context of party activity on the Northside of Dublin – they seemed to belong to a starkly different political culture, whereas the flags did not.

I know people from various groups who’ve been a lot more recently, and some who go regularly.

Anyhow the piece, written by Sylvie Kleinman made a range of criticisms about Bodenstown and the installation and plaques there; ’partisan’, ‘bellicose (and Anti-Treaty) layer of ahistorical misappropriation’ , concluding with the following:

The ‘grave’ is certainly very well maintained, but can we not depoliticise Bodenstown? The current monument is also stark, bleak, outdated, even unintentionally brutalist; would it get planning permission today? By all means discuss and debate, but do not dictate for Tone what his stance may have been in 1922. Should the people of Kildare not be consulted on a suitable but truly national design? Should we not restore the memory of Ton’es family in a dignified garden-cemetery arrangement, and leave the twentieth century behind?

Hmmmm…

Co-dependents… November 14, 2018

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A most interesting insight into the Trump/CNN relationship by Michael Masssing in the NYRB which – and hat tip to EamonnCork for the link, offers a rather different interpretation of that relationship than what may have been seen elsewhere…

And an interesting source for the following comment, which Massing is approving of…

Alexandra Pelosi [daughter of Nancy Pelosi- wbs], a documentarian whose latest production, Outside the Bubble (airing on HBO), chronicles her travels across the country to talk with ordinary Americans, recently told The New York Times that she blames cable news for the nation’s partisan divide: “There’s too much profit being made right now on the divide. How many people in those cable news studios ever really go spend the night in America, not just in the Four Seasons or wherever Trump is at the moment, but I mean really go to somebody’s house, have dinner and talk to them?”

What you want to say – 14th November 2018 November 14, 2018

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

Peace in our time? November 13, 2018

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EU and UK negotiators have agreed on a text that deals with the Irish border, RTÉ News understands.The text was agreed at around 9pm last night and then transmitted to Downing Street.While two well-placed sources have confirmed that the text was “as stable as it can be”, they say it would not be correct to say that the negotiations have “concluded”.According to both sources, there will be one backstop to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Needless to say the Brexiteers aren’t happy. And not just them. Will be interesting if May can manage to negotiate a deal that keeps the least possible number unhappy.

What do people think, is this going to fly?

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