Category Archives: Northern Ireland

Comeuppance for Kate: Hoey’s Brexit balderdash get the brush-off – finally

Kate Hoey: either she did not understand what Brexit would mean to Northern Ireland or she didn’tt care. But the people her influence has harmed will not forget.

This has been a long time coming – and not just to Kate Hoey.

The Brexiteer and former Labour MP has been trying to defend her support for the UK leaving the European Union in the flame-light of the burning vehicles in Northern Ireland.

Her reception has been – well, see for yourself. Here’s her tweeted assertion:

“The Protocol” would be the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

Many have pointed out what this means about Hoey’s comment:

Yes indeed – Hoey stated in a Telegraph article that Northern Ireland had much to gain from Brexit, despite the province having voted against leaving the EU (because people there knew it would jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process):

Her article is still available to read:

Now people have simply connected her words then with her words now, and found that they are not persuasive:

But Hoey should not feel that she is the only one feeling the force of Northern Ireland’s (and indeed the rest of the UK’s)… ire:

What’s the best phrase to describe this lot?

Ah, yes: They’re all in it together.

And we should remember that…

… when we seek compensation for what has happened.

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As Stormont politicians meet, Northern Ireland violence escalates

Northern Ireland has now endured more than a week of violence related to Boris Johnson’s duff Brexit deal.

Johnson himself has said the violence in West Belfast “deeply concerned” him. He was right – it did, and it should; he is directly responsible for it.

He was told his decision to put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea would tear up the Good Friday Agreement, triggering an end to the NI peace process and a return to violence – and he did it anyway.

Northern Ireland doesn’t have a single Conservative member of Parliament; nobody in the province voted to be governed by Johnson (or at least, nobody worth mentioning).

The province’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party propped up former prime minister Theresa May, and could therefore be said to have paved the way for him. It holds power in the Stormont assembly so This Writer wonders what its representatives have to say for themselves.

Last night alone, police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.

Here’s how it looked:

Police believe paramilitary groups were involved in incidents such as one in which several hundred people on each side were throwing petrol bombs in both directions in the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Springfield Road.

The Shankill Road and Springfield Road in west Belfast are now added to the list that includes Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and the Waterside area of Londonderry.

The BBC’s report editorialised:

The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to stop.

While it is a comment that should not have been made by a news reporter, This Writer tends to agree with whoever wrote it.

Sadly, with Boris Johnson running the country, he will undoubtedly dither, delay, take a holiday, and probably even hide in a fridge before taking any decisions – and by the time he does, it will probably be too late.

And, as This Site stated yesterday, this is what he wanted. He had been warned repeatedly that it would happen but he did nothing. We have to draw the obvious conclusion from that.

Source: Belfast: Emergency Stormont meeting after night of violence – BBC News

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Northern Ireland is ablaze again. It’s what Boris Johnson wanted and why he lied

Masks and molotov cocktails: Northern Ireland has gone back to this because of Boris Johnson’s Brexit. We can only conclude it’s what the UK prime minister wants.

Is Boris Johnson delighted that his lies have stirred up more Troubles in Northern Ireland.

This Writer reckons he must be.

Why else would he have promised to everybody who would listen that he would make sure they got what they wanted out of Brexit – and then reneged?

Here’s Peter Stefanovic to explain:

Here’s Johnson himself, lying to a gang of Northern Ireland Tories:

And here’s the result:

Note the comment about the UK’s Tory press ignoring this. In fairness, they might have been slow on the uptake but I found a piece on the BBC website easily enough. Under a bland image of the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Stormont, it reported:

The Northern Ireland Assembly is to be recalled early from its Easter break on Thursday to discuss the violence in some loyalist areas.

A petition tabled by the Alliance Party to bring MLAs back to the chamber has secured the 30 signatures required.

Detectives are also investigating parades in Portadown and Markethill on Monday.

Politicians are united in calling for the violence to end, but are divided over why it has erupted.

NI’s first minister, Arlene Foster of the DUP, has flown a kite suggesting that poor policing of the funeral of Bobby Storey, which attracted 2,000 mourners who didn’t socially distance, has caused a collapse of confidence in the province’s Chief Constable, Simon Byrne.

She’s a supporter of Brexit, of course.

Here’s a tweet that answers her claims:

Yes indeed. What Brexiters labelled “Project Fear” is now a reality of life in Northern Ireland. Again. And those of us who warned the rest can only point out the obvious:

But somebody clearly did want them to – and he’s sitting in 10 Downing Street.

Boris Johnson knew what would happen – just as he knew what would happen when he refused to take the big decisions about Covid-19 that were needed between November 2019 and March 2020.

There can be no denial of the facts. He was told this would happen; he ignored the evidence; and now it is happening.

It won’t go away, because unlike those in mainland Britain, people in Northern Ireland are used to expressing their anger in highly visible, public, and violent ways.

And they won’t care about any laws Johnson might pass that ban demonstrations, parades, rallies and marches either!

For This Writer, it is extremely depressing. I’m old enough to remember the Troubles. I remember being ordered out of a shopping centre because of an IRA bomb in a shop there.

That device was discovered and defused, but I also remember seeing the results when bombs elsewhere were allowed to detonate.

I remember the deaths, the injuries, the recriminations and the resentments.

I know Boris Johnson remembers them too.

But he seems hell-bent on stirring them all up again. So can someone please remind us all why anybody thought it was a good idea to elect him? “But Corbyn” won’t cut it because Corbyn would never have done anything that could lead to this.

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Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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Tory blames Covid for Northern Ireland trade problems & admits it would have been better to stay in EU

Empty shelves: in fact this shot  is from the shortages when people were panic-buying before the first Covid lockdown. It should therefore be no surprise that Brandon Lewis is using Covid as an excuse for the consequences of Brexit.

How else are we to interpret Brandon Lewis’s admission that the European Union’s Single Market offers a “competitive advantages”?

Wasn’t the UK supposed to become more competitive by leaving the EU?

Lewis was responding to complaints that hundreds of products have disappeared from supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland after Brexit.

According to the Belfast Telegraph,

Hundreds of products have disappeared in shops, many online sellers have stopped supplying NI customers, and freight hauliers report bottlenecks caused by new EU paperwork needed before lorries can board ferries from Great Britain.

Lewis said the shortages were due to Covid-19, not Brexit. But we all expected that, didn’t we?

If that’s the case, then why this post-Brexit disruption when traders had been promised unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

He said – well, hear it for yourself. As an added bonus, you get Peter Stefanovic demonstrating that Lewis was lying:

In another interview, on Radio 4’s Today programme, he undermined the entire argument for leaving the European Union at all:

Wow.

Okay.

In that case, let’s challenge Lewis to put it to the test.

If he thinks Brexit has put Northern Ireland at a “competitive advantage”, let’s see him go there and stand in front of a supermarket explaining to disappointed shoppers why they are now better-off.

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Tory Hoare branded a ‘coward’ for plan to abstain on Bill that threatens peace in Northern Ireland

Should it say or should it go? “Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.” Isn’t Boris Johnson pushing NI towards re-integration with the Republic?

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee is currently taking a drubbing on Twitter after he announced he will abstain on the Third Reading of the Internal Market Bill that threatens the peace there, rather than opposing it outright.

Simon Hoare tweeted that information from the US Congress that its members would not permit any free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. He seemed to believe that this was justification for him to abstain, rather than oppose the Bill that breaks international law by overruling the EU Withdrawal Agreement on trade borders around NI.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.

In abstaining on the Bill, Hoare is effectively saying that he does not want to express an opinion on it – even though he knows it will be harmful to peace in Northern Ireland, and to the Union. It is the position of a coward who is afraid to take a stand when his bosses do the wrong thing.

Even if he really didn’t know that, he is being told it in no uncertain terms:

If he does abstain, Spineless Simon should be ashamed to call himself a human being.

I wonder how many Conservatives will follow his example – doing just enough to salve their miniscule consciences without actually stopping the Bill?

Abstention means allowing Boris Johnson to break international law.

And it means an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

When violence breaks out again, after Johnson does whatever he’s planning to do to the Northern Ireland border, Simon Hoare and all other Tory abstainers will be responsible.

But then we know from past experience that Tories are perfectly comfortable to sit in Parliament with blood dripping from their hands.

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How long until Gove’s ‘safety net’ that breaks international law becomes ‘the right thing to do’?

Michael Gove: This Site has better pictures but the Spitting Image dummy reflects his shifty personality so well that it is hard to find an excuse not to use it.

Michael Gove is living evidence that you can get further by talking nonsense constantly than by rational behaviour.

He has just said that talks on implementing the EU withdrawal agreement are at a “healthy stage”.

That’s odd, when the EU side is that the UK’s negotiating position is still “far apart from what the EU can accept”.

The issue is the Internal Markets Bill – or at least those parts of it that override the EU withdrawal agreement where it concerns customs borders in Northern Ireland.

The European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic… said there was a “window of opportunity” to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol, but added that was “rapidly closing”.

And that’s what Gove calls a “healthy stage”!

Mr Sefcovic says the EU wants the UK to remove the “contentious parts” of the bill by the end of September – that’s Wednesday.

He said the EU would “not be shy” in using “legal remedies” written into the withdrawal agreement to address any “violations”.

What do you reckon the chances are that the EU will have to use those remedies – and that when it happens, Gove and the other Tories will say the EU is to blame for the failure of the Withdrawal Agreement?

Source: Michael Gove: Brexit provisions to stay in Internal Market Bill – BBC News

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New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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Former PM rips into Internal Market Bill: ‘So much for global Britain’

What a face: Theresa May’s expression shows exactly how she feels about Boris Johnson’s idiotic, selfish and destructive Internal Markets Bill.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has made a devastating intervention on her successor’s Internal Market Bill, attacking the reasons it has been drafted and its effect on the integrity of the United Kingdom, and questioning whether any other country will trust the UK again.

In a debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon (September 21), she raised several important questions, starting with this:

Clauses 41-45 of the Bill refer to customs arrangements in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement in January, accepting that NI would remain under EU tariffs and effectively placing a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Now he wants to renege on that.

Mrs May was critical:

And she makes an excellent point.

Her final point was better still – that the circumstances in which the UK chooses to break international law won’t matter to people in other countries; they’ll only see that the UK has broken international law and won’t want anything to do with a rogue state of that kind:

Her conclusion was a devastating blow – not only to the Internal Markets Bill but to her successor, Boris Johnson: “This is a country that upholds the rule of law. That is one of the things that makes us great; it is one of our characteristics… yet we are being asked to tear up that principle and throw away that value. Why? I can only see, on the face of it, that it is because the Government did not really understand what they were signing up to when they signed the withdrawal agreement.

“Frankly, I find it difficult to understand how any Minister can go through the Lobby to support these clauses.

“I consider that… the Government are acting recklessly and irresponsibly, with no thought to the long-term impact on the United Kingdom’s standing in the world. It will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation and puts its future at risk.”

Wow.

It won’t make any difference, of course.

If Boris Johnson was able to gull more than 300 Tory MPs into voting for his Withdrawal Agreement in January, and then to vote against it in September, then the word of a former prime minister won’t stop them doing whatever he wants.

They would probably shoot themselves through the lung if he told them to.

Effectively, that is exactly what they are doing – and the rest of us, too.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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US Congress threatens to pull out of #freetrade deal if UK undermines #GoodFridayAgreement

Partners? Dominic Raab is in the United States, where he has been meeting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But the threat to the Good Friday Agreement posed by the Tory government’s Internal Market Bill means they may not see eye-to-eye.

This is awkward for Boris Johnson.

The US Congress – or at least members of it – is threatening to withdraw from any free trade deal with the UK if Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill undermines the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

This is a body blow to Johnson, who has claimed that the Bill is vitally important even though it very clearly breaks international law by shattering treaty agreements with the EU and in NI.

According to the BBC:

US Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week said there would be no UK-US trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement was undermined.

Ms Pelosi said if the UK broke international law and Brexit undermined the Good Friday Agreement – the Northern Ireland peace deal – there would be “absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress”.

On Tuesday, four senior congressmen also issued a similar warning, saying a UK-US trade deal would be blocked if the UK failed to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, the four congressmen said the plans to give ministers powers to override part of the UK’s exit agreement – designed to avoid a hard Irish border – could have “disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement and broader process to maintain peace on the island of Ireland”.

“We therefore urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal agreement and look to ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” the letter added.

The letter was signed by Democratic congressmen Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, and Bill Keating, who all chair committees in the US House of Representatives, as well as Republican Congressman Peter King.

Downing Street has said the GFA will be upheld “in all circumstances” but the problem is that Johnson has a record of saying one thing and doing the opposite.

The row over the Internal Market Bill is because it contradicts the EU Withdrawal Agreement that Johnson himself signed in January after expelling 21 Tory MPs for failing to support him.

He simply cannot be trusted; he will say anything he likes to get whatever he wants at a particular time.

The warning from Congress underlines fears that no other nation will want to do a deal with a country that breaks international law.

The Americans would be better-advised to pull out of any deal now.

They might as well be negotiating with a spoilt child.

Source: Brexit: Dominic Raab seeks to reassure US politicians over Brexit bill – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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