The Northern Ireland question has been intertwined with the political affairs of the UK since the seventeenth century, when, during the Plantation of Ulster, English and Scottish settlers landed in Ireland and were met with resistance by the native Irish, leading to the first modern confrontation. How the conflict has evolved?The Northern Irish question and British politics in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major
Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie murder
Friday, 27th January, 2023.
A former British soldier who shot a Co Tyrone man dead as he walked to a GAA match 35 years ago will be sentenced later today.
David Holden, 53 was convicted in November of the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot in the back on his way to a GAA Football match.
He is the first British army veteran to be convicted since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Whatever sentence is imposed, Holden will benefit from the agreement’s early release scheme for prisoners and will serve a maximum of two years.
Mr McAnespie, 23, was shot in the back from an army checkpoint in the village of Aughnacloy on the Tyrone/Monaghan border on 21 February, 1988.
He was walking to a game in the nearby GAA ground.
The former soldier, who was 18 at the time and serving in the Grenadier Guards, claimed the shooting had been an accident.
But the judge ruled he had pointed a machine gun at Mr McAnespie from an observation sanger in the checkpoint and pulled the trigger, assuming the weapon was not cocked and ready for use.
That was an assumption he should never have made and as a result he was guilty of manslaughter “by gross negligence”, the judge ruled.
He dismissed the soldier’s claim that it happened as he handled the weapon with wet gloves and that his finger had slipped onto the trigger.
The judge described that as a “deliberately false account” and said the expert evidence had been that it took nine pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the weapon.
Three rounds were fired in a short burst. One of them ricocheted off the road and hit Mr McAnespie in the back.
During the trial, the court was told that Mr McAnespie was a “person of interest” to the security forces.
He had complained of regular harassment at the checkpoint and often parked his car and walked through it to the GAA grounds to avoid lengthy delays caused by searches of his vehicle.
Mr McAnespie’s family is expected at court in Belfast for the sentencing.
The case concludes as the British government’s controversial legacy plans continue to make their way through Westminster.
They have been rejected by all of Northern Ireland’s political parties and the Irish Government and face considerable opposition in the House of Lords where they are currently being debated.
The plan would effectively end all criminal and civil cases and inquest hearings relating to the Troubles.
Instead, there would be a truth recovery process in which former paramilitaries would be encouraged to participate, in return for an amnesty from prosecution.
The British government has promised amendments in the face of overwhelming criticism, but has been accused of tinkering at the edges.
The legislation follows a Conservative party commitment to legal protections for British army veterans.
After the sentence is handed down by the court, Holden’s legal team must apply to Northern Ireland’s Sentence Review Commissioners to have it commuted.
With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Conor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) for the original story.
Follow these links to find out more on this story: Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie killing
With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Connor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) Follow@TVconormac for the original story.
Follow this link to find out more on this story: https://www.rte.ie/news/2023/0127/1352056-mcanespie-court-ruling/
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UK proposal on North of Ireland Brexit protocol ‘unwise’ – Coveney
Boris Johnson now ripping up the Good Friday Agreement
Mr Coveney was responding to a Financial Times report that said British legislation out this week will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland.
In a statement, the UK government said it was working with the European Union to resolve what it called “outstanding issues” surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Without making explicit reference to the Financial Times report or specifying what the outstanding issues were, the statement stated that if those issues were not resolved “as a responsible government, we are considering fall back options in the event this is not achieved to ensure the communities of Northern Ireland are protected”.
Senior government sources would not be drawn on the Financial Times report, with one source speculating that it was part of a stepping up of “noise” by the UK as the future relationship negotiations enter a critical phase.
The source said he expected that the European Commission Brexit Task Force would seek clarification on the report.
Quoting three Whitehall sources, the report claims that sections of the upcoming Internal Market Bill would undercut key provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
These included the potential levelling of tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, as well as the potential for EU state aid law to continue to reach into the UK if the British government subsidises companies that have significant subsidiaries in Northern Ireland.
The report claims that “clauses in the internal market and finance bills will force the UK courts to follow the new UK law rather than the EU deal, diluting the ability of the protocol to intrude on UK state aid policy.”
The paper quoted one source as saying that the force of the new legislation had been approved by the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, who “had personally driven the decision to take the ‘nuclear option’ of overwriting the withdrawal agreement, despite progress being made in talks on implementing the Irish protocol”.
Reaction to the report has been swift, with Mr Coveney issuing his response on Twitter, saying: “This would be a very unwise way to proceed.”
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the Brexit terms that Britain agreed to before formally exiting the European Union “must be respected”.
“Everything that has been signed must be respected,” Mr Barnier told France Inter radio, in response to the Financial Times report.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said on social media: “As the Brexit negotiations between the EU and British government enter their eighth round this week in London, any threats of a roll back on the Irish protocol would represent a treacherous betrayal which would inflict irreversible harm on the all-Ireland economy, and [Good Friday Agreement].”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “If true, this could lead to a hard border in Ireland and undermine decades of progress.
Britain’s Agriculture and Environment minister George Eustace denied the UK government intends undermining the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland protocol.
He said the British government is committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the UK is working with the EU through the Special Committee established by the Agreement to jointly agree the specific terms of the treaty.
He said when that process ends there may be some outstanding issues – what he called “loose ends” that may need to be implemented through UK legislation.
Mr Eustace said these included the exact nature of checks required on food products entering Northern Ireland, and the type of exit declarations needed to document the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
The report coincided with a combative statement from the British Prime Minister, which said that if there was no agreement between the EU and UK before an EU summit on 15 October then a free trade deal was unlikely “and we should both accept that and move on”.
Boris Johnson added: “We will then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s.
“I want to be absolutely clear that, as we have said right from the start, that would be a good outcome for the UK. As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it.
“We will have full control over our laws, our rules, and our fishing waters. We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world.
“And we will prosper mightily as a result.”
What British ministers sometimes refer to as an “Australian” style free trade arrangement is generally taken as a “no deal” outcome, with both the EU and UK trading on WTO terms.
Mr Johnson said: “Even at this late stage, if the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this I will be delighted.
“But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.”
The EU-UK future relationship negotiations have been deadlocked for months over fisheries, the issue of state aid and the so-called level playing field, police and judicial cooperation, and how both sides would resolve disputes in the future.
The prime minister made no reference to the Northern Ireland Protocol in his statement.
Both teams of negotiators meet in London on Tuesday for the next full round of negotiations.
Mr Barnier has set a deadline for agreement of 31 October.
With many thanks to: RTE News and Tony Connelly Europe Editor for the original story
32csm | 32 County Sovereignty Movement | Ireland
Accommodating Unionists/Loyalists in a republic is simply not possible
I DON’T agree with most of it but I still think Paul Gosling’s book, A New Ireland, A New Union, A New Society, A Ten Year Plan (the 2nd edition has just been published) is one of the best made cases for a united Ireland.
It’s also worth noting that my engagements with Paul – on social media or at panel events – have always been very civil: and it’s worth noting because civility isn’t always given when it comes to people who support Irish unity. Mind you, it isn’t always given with people who oppose Irish unity. Anyway, my primary problem with Paul’s case (although, in fairness, he has included the opinions of others too, including some from a pro-Union background) is that it still doesn’t address the concerns of those who believe that unionism cannot survive in a united Ireland. Unionists support the United Kingdom. Unionists believe that the North of Ireland will always be better within the gravitational pull of the Parliament based in London. Most unionists fear that their beliefs, political values and very specific identity and sense of belonging cannot be accommodated outside the United Kingdom. Some nationalists argue that in the event of unity unionists would find themselves in the same position as nationalists who found themselves on the ‘wrong side of the border’ in 1921. That’s not so.
If it is an independent republic then unionism will have lost and indeed cannot exist. If that is so, what is the point of recognising British identity?
Nationalists were always able to carry the flaming torch for ‘a nation once again’ and campaign on the premise that a mix of circumstance and demographic shift would maybe deliver a united Ireland. Unionists would have no flame to carry (unless there was a provision for post-unity polls in what was the North of Ireland; and the possibility of rejoining the UK). A United Ireland kills off electoral/political unionism in its present form: a form which prioritises the constitutional link with the United Kingdom. So, how do you ‘accommodate’ unionism if the North of Ireland no longer exists? How do you accommodate a political/electoral strategy if the purpose and intended outcome of that strategy has has been removed? Offering to recognise The Twelfth as a public holiday; or allowing people from what was the North of Ireland to be eligible for membership of the House of Lords; or having elements of the Union Jack included in a new flag; or writing a new national anthem; or recognising Scots-Irish; these have all been mentioned as forms of accommodation. But none of them is. At best they represent mere tokenism.
There’s an interesting appendix from Desmond Murphy QC: ‘However, in all texts considered, hard questions are avoided: What will be the form of the state. If it is an independent republic then unionism will have lost and indeed cannot exist. If that is so, what is the point of recognising British identity? The essence of unionism in the North of Ireland is loyalty to the crown and monarchy and to historical sacrifices on their behalf. If those links are snapped, fuzzy promises about holding British passports will be meaningless. Where would power lie in the new state, and more importantly what would be the distribution of such power. Unionists/Protestants could not exercise effective resistance in a new state unless there were artificial protections at the centre of power.’ At this point unionists are not engaging in a debate. Let me make a point here (and I mean no disrespect to those concerned, who are clearly following their consciences): some who are self-described or viewed by others as ‘civic unionists’ are taking part in a conversation with elements of nationalism.
But they they are a small minority and, generally speaking, have little input to or influence within mainstream unionism. I make the point because the assorted ‘accommodations’ which would be acceptable to them would not be acceptable to them would not be acceptable to the much broader swathe of mainstream unionism/loyalism. That’s why I agree with another point made by Desmond Murphy:’…it would appear impossible for any unionist to negotiate on any form of Irish unity prior to a referendum.’ But that doesn’t mean that mainstream unionism shouldn’t have an internal just-in-case discussion on the subject: and they could do a lot worse than beginning with Gosling’s book. A border poll may never come (which strikes me as unlikely), or it could come within a few years. Unionism must be ready to fully engage if the moment comes: ensure beforehand that the arguments for the union are thought-through and ready to be rolled out; and that unionists are thoroughly briefed well in advance.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Alex Kane for the original story
Deal Or No Deal? The DUP Are Saying ‘NO’
🇪🇺🤝🇬🇧 Where there is a will, there is a #deal – we have one! It’s a fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK and it is testament to our commitment to find solutions. I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal.
The DUP says ‘No
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said it is sticking to its position that it cannot support Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, in spite of a deal being struck between the UK and the EU.
The deal was agreed on Thursday before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
Earlier, the DUP said it “could not support” the prime minister’s revised Brexit plan for Northern Ireland.
Its support is seen as crucial if the deal is to win approval in Parliament in time for his 31 October deadline.
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Consent issue at heart of DUP’s concern
But a few hours later the prime minister tweeted: “We’ve got a great new deal that takes back control.”
‘Consent is the cornerstone’
The UK and the EU have been working on the legal text of a deal but it will still need the approval of both the UK and European parliaments.
Speaking in Brussels, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described the consent proposal in the agreement as “a cornerstone of our newly agreed approach”.
“Four years after entry into force of the protocol, the elected representatives of Northern Ireland will be able to decide by simple majority whether to continue applying relevant union rules in Northern Ireland or not,” he said.
The prime minister will join European leaders in Brussels later for a crunch EU summit as efforts continue to win support for his Brexit deal from MPs at home.
No 10 said there were no plans for the prime minister to meet the DUP on Thursday.
It looks like the party’s 10 MPs will vote against the proposed deal if it comes to the Commons on Saturday, which could make the Westminster arithmetic.
‘Disaster for Northern Ireland’
Speaking in Londonderry, the Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith said “we’ve abandoned nobody” when asked if his government had decided not to rely on the DUP’s votes.
“I want to make the case for every MP to get this deal over the line on Saturday to make sure we bring this chapter of Brexit to a close,” he told BBC News NI.
Sinn Féin’s vice-president Michelle O’Neill tweeted that a veto on the Northern Ireland plans must not be included as part of a Brexit deal.
Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken said Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal keeps Northern Ireland in the EU “to all intents and purposes”.
He told the BBC’s The Nolan Show: “If you were a leave voter in Northern Ireland you’d be asking yourself: ‘Is this what I voted for?’
“This has been a disaster for Northern Ireland – the only way we can get out of it is to stay [in the EU].”
Mr Aiken is the only contender for the soon-to-be-vacant leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
Alliance Party leader and MEP Naomi Long said she wanted the prime minister to put the deal to the public in a referendum.
“What we need to do is get this right, not just get it done,” she said.
“If the DUP are not willing to provide the arithmetic to get a deal through Parliament then I think Boris Johnson would be right to go to the public.”
The Stormont role would not be the unionists’ veto demanded by the DUP – instead the arrangements could be approved by a straight majority.
Pro-EU parties have a narrow majority at Stormont.
The Brexit deal would involve Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK.
It would continue to follow EU rules on food safety and product standards.
The DUP has already accepted that Northern Ireland would have to align with some EU rules to avoid a hard border.
Northern Ireland would also leave the EU customs union.
But EU customs procedures would still apply on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain in order to avoid checks at the border.
Stormont would have to approve those arrangements on an ongoing basis.
Approval would involve a straightforward majority, which would keep the special arrangements in place for four years.
Alternatively, if the arrangements are approved by a majority of nationalists and a majority unionists they would remain in place for eight years – that would incentivise a cross-community consensus.
If the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to end the arrangements there would be a two-year notice period, during which the UK and the EU would have to agree ways to protect the peace process and avoid a hard border.
There is no fallback position in case the two sides cannot find a solution.
If a vote was not held – by choice or because the assembly was not sitting – then there would be no change and the special arrangements would continue.
The EU believes that replaces the backstop – which would have lasted “unless and until” an alternative was found – with arrangements that are sustainable over time and are democratically supported, as requested by the UK.
With many thanks to: BBC News England for the original story
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