Category Archives: Commentary

Mind your language

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since Irish Republicans realised they had lost their so-called ‘armed conflict’ there was no doubt that culture wars would emerge to take precedence. That became apparent in the development of residents’ groups and the demonization of parading – it was no coincidence that among the first targets were parades relating to Somme Commemoration.

The latest frontier is the Irish language – rather the specific Irish Language Act,  the latest campaign on the front line of Sinn Fein’s culture war; though forays have been taking place for many years locally.

So far the campaign promoting an Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland has been notable by its crude rhetorical bombardment on, and desperate frontal assaults against, logic and common sense.

We need new arguments not new parties

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It’s become common to assert that Brexit has changed the contours of British politics forever.

That remains to be seen. After the UK leaves the EU, older loyalties and divisions may re-emerge, as allegiances and rivalries that developed since the referendum become irrelevant.

That hasn’t prevented some fairly animated discussion about the potential for new parties to reflect a ‘realignment’ of politics after Brexit.

History repeating

 

 

 

As you approach the Military Museum in Vienna there is a large sign at the entrance proclaiming ‘Kriege gehoeren ins Museum’ (wars belong in the museum). That is a fine sentiment indeed and a striking one.

If you are interested in the wars of the Habsburg Monarchy – especially the Empire’s calamitous experience in the First World War – then the Military Museum is a must see if you are ever in the city.

Austrians are, however, still reluctant to devote the same attention to the country’s incorporation into the Third Reich and its military role in the Second World War.

It isn’t that there is no information. It isn’t that the appeal of Hitler and Nazism is ignored. It’s just that 1939-45 appears to be someone else’s war – suggesting that some wars don’t belong so easily in museums after all.

Despite this coyness, one exhibit is striking.

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’.

All at sea.

 

 

 

 

 

Professor James Anderson in the Belfast Telegraph “Brexiteers are holding NI to ransom” provides an interesting viewpoint on what he sees as the menu of options relating to Northern Ireland and GB trade with the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit. However, his consideration appears to be only partial, and incomplete.

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.

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.