Category Archives: Articles

EU’s position on ‘Ireland’ is neither coherent nor constructive

 

 

 

 

 

Last month the government published its Brexit position paper on ‘Northern Ireland and Ireland’ (by which it meant the Irish Republic). It was hardly a scintillating document, but at least it tried to imagine how a ‘seamless and frictionless’ border might work in practice.

In response, the EU Commission issued a set of truculent and unhelpful ‘Guiding principles for the dialogue on Ireland / Northern Ireland’.

How Bad Will Brexit Really Be For The UK?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great majority of the economic forecasts have concluded that Brexit will damage the UK economy. In the case of ‘no deal’ between the UK and the EU, the majority view is that the loss of GDP could be severe.

The UK Treasury, the OECD and the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Policy (CEP) all agreed, in reports published during the referendum campaign, that with no deal the loss of GDP by 2030 would be in the range of 7-10%.

A free-trade agreement (FTA) would be little better. Much of this was ignored by ‘Leave’ voters in the Referendum, who had long since lost all confidence in economic forecasts.

That the short-term forecasts of these forecasting bodies were largely wrong strengthened this pessimism, but the long-term projections remain influential and form an important context for the Brexit negotiations now underway between the UK and EU.

These long-term forecasts, that leaving the EU with no deal on trade would be economically disastrous, undermine the UK’s optimal negotiating strategy.

What goes up…?

 

 

 

 

 

On this site we have argued on a number of occasions that the last refuge of a weak political argument is the argument according to inevitability. In the case of Irish nationalism it is often the first refuge because there is little else to say.

The same trait has informed much of the superficial self-confidence Scottish nationalists, proudly proclaiming the inevitable end of the United Kingdom since Tom Nairn’s Break-up of Britain published 40 years ago. However, on the subject of inevitability consider the result of the recent Survation poll for the Scottish Daily Mail published recently.

Dreary Option of Joint Authority Emerges Once Again

 

 

 

 

 

In April 1994 the Cadogan Group published a pamphlet JOINT AUTHORITY AND THE NORTHERN IRELAND PROBLEM.

It was written to challenge an idea which was being touted as the logical ‘solution’ to the ‘Northern Ireland problem’. It has re-emerged not as a ‘solution’ but as another of the present Irish Government’s – unhelpful – ‘non-negotiable demands’.

Of paradoxes

 

 

 

 

 

Newton Emerson is a journalist whose articles are always worth reading. His unique contribution is to engage honestly and intelligently with Irish politics without indulging those liberal pieties, that all too often provides thin cover for ancestral voices. He is all the more refreshing when found in the Irish Times which particularly lends itself to liberal piety, thinly covering ancestral voices, conveyed in the tone of smug Southern self-righteousness.

Running out of options

 

 

 

 

 

 

There has been much focus on restoring devolution to Northern Ireland, and that focus has been in the context of avoiding the return of direct administration from Westminster.

However, to all intents direct rule has been in place since 9th March, with civil servants taking decisions local politicians are not taking (because Sinn Fein continues to pressure a deal on an all (its terms) or nothing, and any decisions will have been in consultation with the Northern Ireland Office.

Much was made of a DUP MP saying it was time for Direct Rule may be a political ploy to ‘throw the cat amongst the pigeons’ ahead of the new phase of talks, coming soon. Though Sammy Wilson has said this earlier in the year too. Still a relatively recent poll (June 2017: with all the caveats, including online self-selecting panel) shows public support is greatest for devolution (albeit with an unspecified ‘reforming of the Executive’ or ‘the reformation of the NI Government institutions’)

The End isn’t nigh

 

 

 

 

Back in 2008 Arthur Aughey wrote of “Endism” as a radical version of Hegel’s Philosophy of History, the appeal of which is its suggestion that ‘the good is already fulfilled just in virtue of the fact that it is in the process of being fulfilled’ (J McCarney Hegel on History). In this radically transformative understanding, expectation becomes fact.

In that respect, the short article identified ‘Endism’ as an essential component of ‘nationalist thinking’. This essay expands significantly on that article, developing and defining the idea of ‘Endism’ and what we are to make of it today.

Has nationalism over-reached?

 

 

 

 

There have been two interesting articles in newspapers this week. Both address the current ‘Condition of Scotland’ question.

For Northern Ireland unionism, which always likes to consider its situation unique and exceptional, there were clear commonalities with its own indulgence in a distinctive perilousness of its condition; though these articles suggest that that indulgence is overwrought.

Both articles touched on matters familiar to those who have been keeping abreast with posts to this site – cultural pessimism, historical inevitability and (alleged) superior nationalist political strategy.

Distant dreaming

 

 

 

 

 

In considering the article by academics Christopher Kissane and David Kenny (one from London School of Economics and the other from Trinity College Dublin) in today’s Irish Times (18 August), it is worth keeping in mind the title “Imagination is needed to achieve a united Ireland”.

Based on the article it would take a great deal of imagination, perhaps verging on the fantastic, if this Opinion piece was to be considered a start point.

Opportunity knocks

 

 

 

 

We don’t yet know how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland exactly, but the referendum result certainly revived the nationalist trope that Irish unity is ‘inevitable’.

The Republic’s national parliament recently published plans for a forum “to achieve the peaceful reunification of Ireland”, Sinn Fein blithely assure unionists that the “British identity” will be protected in a thirty-two county state and newspaper columnists rush to tell readers that the fourth green field will soon “bloom again”. One particularly excitable author, Kevin Meagher, a former special adviser to Shaun Woodward, (remind me again why unionists didn’t trust that former secretary of state), even called his book “A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable”.

In response, unionists have challenged nationalism’s “self-regarding, single certainty” in a series of astute articles.