Ahhh, the Irish Question once again.

Reproduced below is a page from the Irish Times (Fri, Nov 10, 2017).  I include it because it seems as though the Irish People seem to believe that they have a divine right that Britain should stay in the EU in order that the Irish can continue in the status quo.

It may seem extraordinary to the majority of the British, but, apparently, around 80% of the Irish People believe the EU to be beneficial.  Yet, today, an Irish Senator demands that Britain stays in the EU to ‘protect’ them from the dominance of France and Germany so that they can continue to enjoy what they see as the privileges of EU Membership.

Yet Britain is not meant to be the protectors of Ireland.   As a sovereign nation, it is beholden on them to stand on their own two feet.  If the Irish feel threatened, then they must rid themselves of the threat and Britain must do what is best for Britain.  That is not selfishness, it is the duty of Government to have that attitude.

Although they appear not to realise it they have been, like most of the smaller nations in the EU, been treated quite badly.  They are only just beginning to recover from the ineptitude of the Euro currency though they are most certainly not out of the woods yet.  Though they are once again economically functional, they are still in enormous debt and still subject to EU scrutiny of their annual budget.  Something that most sovereign nations would consider an insult not to be borne.

One of the mainstays of the Irish economy is the inward investment of Multi-National Corporations that choose to be there because of the low taxation regime in Ireland, yet now that the EU have appointed a ‘Finance Minister’ with the ambition to be able to levy direct taxation.   Surely the Irish must see that any form of tax ‘harmonisation’ seriously threatens their ability to set their own taxation levels and remove much of the reasons for those Corporations to be based on the periphery of Europe rather than in its centre?

Then, of course, Ireland has been fluttering either side of the threshold from being nett recipients to nett contributors of the EU Budget.  Although Ireland has been a fairly high recipient of EU ‘Largess’, albeit they have no say in where the money is spent.  It just does not seem to have fully occurred to them yet that, as Britain has done for decades, that they will receive back far less than they will pay in and with the added penalty that they will have no say in where there money is spent.

Despite the screams of disapproval from the remaining EU Membership that do not want to pay additional ‘premiums’ to the EU budget, it will eventually happen and, of course, that will mean even more a price for EU membership.

It also does not occur to the Irish, that despite the opposition to Federalisation of Europe,  almost all of the infrastructure is already in place and by the usual chicanery of the EU Bureaucracy, it is highly likely that they will achieve the fact without Treaty change by the use of stealth and QMV which is easily obtainable by the larger economies that the Irish are so afraid of dominance by.

The Irish have always been a proud race, yet in the matter of the EU, they are like frightened children at the thought of being out in the wide world all by themselves without Britain to hold their hand.  The answer to that is simple: come out once again into the wide world with us.  We will help them but only if they help themselves.




EU calls out contradiction in Britain’s Border fudge

Dublin risks being pushed into corner unless issue is sorted later rather than sooner

A protocol official changes the EU and British flags at EU headquarters in Brussels. EU negotiators believe the North will have to remain subject to EU trading rules to avoid the return of a Border on the island of Ireland. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP.

A protocol official changes the EU and British flags at EU headquarters in Brussels. EU negotiators believe the North will have to remain subject to EU trading rules to avoid the return of a Border on the island of Ireland. Photograph: Virginia Mayo/AP.

The European Commission has upped the ante in the Brexit talks on the Irish Border, which will now be a key focus ahead of next month’s crunch summit of EU leaders.

News that EU negotiators believe the North will have to remain subject to EU trading rules to avoid the return of a Border on the island of Ireland after Brexit is an important development in the talks.

It “calls out” a contradiction in the British position and will infuriate the DUP but will be welcome in Dublin.

The European Commission, in its latest negotiating document, is of course pointing out what has been obvious from the start – if the UK in its entirety leaves the EU trading bloc, then the Border would be back.

Ireland has called for all of the UK to remain in the customs union and single market – the agreements which underpin free trade in goods and services – to avoid this, and also to allow trade to continue unhindered between Ireland and Britain. This remains Ireland’s best option. However, London continues to rule this out as Brexit must mean Brexit, and so on.

If London insists on leaving the EU trading bloc, then the only way to avoid a trade Border on the island would be for the North to have a special status,effectively remaining in the single market and customs union. This is what the EU document is pointing to. However, this would mean a trade Border would be needed on goods moving between the North and Britain, something which London has also ruled out and which would anger the DUP, on whom the Conservatives rely to keep them in government.

UK Brexit secretary David Davis again rejecting this idea on Friday, saying that the “constitutional and economic integrity” of the UK must be maintained. So it is far from clear how this will be solved. The DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson also weighed in , telling RTÉ that “ we’re not going to agree to a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.”

Britain has been trying to ride two horses, claiming that it could leave the EU single market and customs union and simultaneously find some way to avoid the return of a “hard” Border on the island of Ireland.

The European Commission has pointed out that achieving both of these goals simultaneously is not possible. The key part of the EU negotiating document leaked on Thursday evening pointed out that if a Border was to be avoided,“regulatory divergence” must be avoided on the island of Ireland from the rules of the internal market and customs union.

In other words the only way to square the circle of Britain leaving the customs union and single market with the goal of avoiding a hard Border is for the North to remain inside the EU regulatory tent.

There is a whole bag of complexity in these rules, but the central point is simple . If the UK is no longer subject to all the rules underlying free trade in the EU, then a border is needed to stop goods moving in and out of the EU single market. If this border is not on the island of Ireland, then it must be in the Irish Sea, with some special arrangement reached for the North.

Britain has tried to nuance this , saying that there are ways to lessen the impact of an Irish Border and that in any case this cannot be finally sorted until it becomes clear what the future trading arrangement would be between the UK and the EU. Dublin has been unhappy with any suggestion of the return of a Border and believes that promises to make it “frictionless” in various papers from London in recent months are not achievable.

Not enough

This all suggests that Ireland has wider support in seeking a clearer framework to avoid the return of a Border, before the Brexit talks progress. The EU is suggesting to London that the current Border fudge is not enough.

London had been hoping for the Border issue to be pushed to later in the Brexit talks. For Dublin, however, the risk is of being backed into a corner later in the talks and coming under pressure to accept the return of some sort of a Border, which could still happen.

Where now then?

In mid-December, EU leaders must decide if sufficient progress has been made on a range of issues to allow the Brexit talks to progress. The key ones are the extent of Britain’s financial commitments, the mutual rights of EU and UK citizens and the so-called Irish issues.

Ireland has some leverage here, particularly as the decision on whether to move to the next phase of the talks must be made by EU leaders on the basis of consensus, with no one country objecting.

An interesting few weeks lie ahead.

As further illustration, listed below are the three comments made to the Irish Times on this article.

  • Jim

The only way to solve this is for Theresa May’s government to collapse, for Labour to form a government, look at the sheer extent of issues to be dealt with and say “Sorry folks, hard Brexit is not on the table.” They need to stay inside the customs union. It’s the only way they can avoid a total disaster in Northern Ireland and breaking an international treaty. The Conservatives are not facing the reality of the situation. As Lord Buckethead said, “It’s going to be a ******* shitshow.”

  • Ulsterman

Obviously a solution to the border problem is a special status for NI. As has been suggested by Paschal Lamy, the former head of the WTO (as well as a former EU Trade Commissioner). Under this NI could retain UK sovereignty but remain part of the EU for economic purposes. Of course this would mean an EU border in the Irish Sea. This ofvourse would be unacceptable for the DUP. In the end,however, they may have to accept it. If they topple May it may just give the keys to 10 Downing Jeremy Corbyn. (Not necessarily the worst outcome). Until an Executive takes office in Stormont they have nowhere else to go other than the political wilderness, at least as far as Westminster is concerned.

British thinking on this may be guided not so much by NI but by Scotland. If NI gets a special status why not Scotland, which also voted to “remain”? I can see the Scottish Government keeping a very close eye on this. It would of course mean a land border between Scotland and England but that might not bother the Scots Nats much. It would, however,be a headache for London. UK businesses affected by Brexit might very well view a move to Scotland as a viable option.« less


  • ThomasMurray

I’d only dispute your comment about the return of “some sort of a border, which could happen”. Given the makeup of the current UK government and its inability to get out of the clutches of the extreme Brexiteers, a return of some sort of a border is guaranteed. The only question is where, with the likelihood being between Dundalk and Newry, although the Larne / Stranraer option is still possible. We need to get used to the idea and start to plan on how to minimise its effect on the GFA rather than just hope the problem goes away.

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