Irish Prime Minister vows to block trade talks if Theresa May fails to explain border plans by next month

‘They want us to take a leap in the dark and we are not prepared to do that,’ source tells Independent’. Leo Varadkar has Brussels’ backing in worrying about a hard land border after Brexit
The Irish Prime Minister has set Theresa May a one-month deadline to explain how she will avoid a damaging hard border with Northern Ireland, or the EU will block Brexit trade talks.

Leo Varadkar dismissed Ms May’s claim that negotiations on the future land border are “almost there” as “wishful thinking”, at a breakfast meeting.

Instead, he told the UK prime minister that she must set out detailed proposals that can form part of the conclusions of the crunch December EU summit.

Without that reassurance, the EU would block any attempt to move the negotiations onto future trade and a transitional period to cushion Brexit – the Holy Grail for the UK.

“They want us to take a leap in the dark and we are not prepared to do that,” one Irish source told The Independent.

“The British want to give the impression that we are all on the same page, that it is just a question of finding a form of words, but that is certainly not the case.

“We need an explicit commitment, confidence about the impact on the island of Ireland, before the talks can progress to phase two.”

It is understand that Ireland would not exercise its veto, but has no doubt that all 27 EU countries would unite in drawing a red line to frustrate the UK.

The stance, following talks between the two leaders at a summit in Sweden, is a stark reminder that the so-called “divorce bill” is not the only remaining obstacle to breaking the deadlock in the negotiations.

However, No 10 insisted there had been “constructive discussions on Brexit” and that both leaders anticipated “further progress” before the EU council.

“On Northern Ireland, the PM was clear that the Belfast agreement must be at the heart of our approach and that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances demand specific solutions,” a spokesman said.

“The PM said it was important to protect progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years. Both leaders agreed to work together to find solutions which ensure there is no return to the borders of the past.”

British negotiators had, until recently, hoped that the vexed issue of the Irish border could be “parked” until trade talks begin, because they are so closely linked.

However, a leaked European Commission earlier this month showed that Dublin has Brussels staunch support in ensuring the controversy remains a priority.


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It made clear that, in order to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, the Brexit divorce deal must respect “the integrity of the internal market and the customs union”, with Ireland remaining a member of both.

That meant the UK, to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, must also remain part of the customs union – something London has categorically ruled out, at least long term.

Previously, Brussels has dismissed the UK’s proposals to use untested new technology to police a light-touch Irish border as “magical thinking”.

Dublin is said to be demanding that the UK preserve about 100 EU regulations, many covering customs and agriculture, to ensure an open trade border with Northern Ireland.

Richard Radcliffe leaves the Foreign Office with his local MP Tulip Siddiq, following a meeting with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Marc
But that would mean London either accepting the rules for the whole of Britain or granting special status to Northern Ireland, weakening the integrity of the UK – which ministers have rejected.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told his Irish counterpart, that only a progression to trade talks could solve the border issue.

But Simon Coveney said Britain would have to bend if it was to stand by its promise of no return of “physical infrastructure”.

“We simply don’t see how we can avoid border infrastructure, whether it’s on the border or somewhere else on the island, if we have regulatory divergence in Northern Ireland versus the rest of the island,” he said.

“When you have a different rule book applied to trade and business, well then, you are starting to go down the road of having to have checks and inspections.”

With many thanks to : The Independent’s Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor for the origional story.

End the EXTRADITION of Irish Republicans

Judge wants more information on strip searching in Damian McLaughlin extradition case

A High Court judge is seeking further information on strip searches in a North of Ireland prison before deciding whether to extradite a 40-year-old Belfast man wanted there in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black.

Mr Damien Joseph McLaughlin, with an address at Glenties Rd, Belfast, was arrested in County Donegal last March on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Northern Ireland authorities.

He is wanted to face allegations that he aided and abetted in the murder of David Black on November 1st, 2012, and was in possession of an article suspected of being for the commission of the act of murder.

Mr Black, a 52-year-old father of two, was shot dead on the M1 motorway by dissident republicans as he drove to work in Maghaberry jail.

Mr McLaughlin is also charged with engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and of being a member of a proscribed organisation. The maximum penalties applicable to each of the four offences are ten years, 15 years and two penalties of life imprisonment.

Previously, his barrister, David Leonard BL, claimed his client’s constitutional right and his right under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment would be breached by virtue of the prison conditions he would be subject to in Maghaberry prison in the North of Ireland on surrender.

Mr Leonard said that the full-body searches (strip-searches) which took place in Maghaberry and also in conjunction with the background of controlled movement within the prison, reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.

High Court judge Ms Aileen Donnelly delivered her written judgement today, where she said she rejected the contention that restrictions on movement amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Ms Justice Donnelly said she also rejected the respondent’s claim that he would be at real risk of being exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment because of the manner in which the strip-searches will be carried out.

However, the judge said the question of whether there is a necessity for a full-body search in light of improvements in technology was a separate issue. “The main evidence before me as to a lack of justification for these strip-searches is that technology exists to resolve the necessity for full-body searches,” she said.

She said the court also had credible evidence before it from information provided to a Joint Oireachtas Committee from highly respected persons that Portlaoise Prison operated technology which meant full-body searches were no longer required.

“This information questions whether full-body searches ie strip-searches are necessary in the absence of an indication by the technology,” she said.

The judge said she was entitled to rely upon the evidence presented to the Oireachtas Committee as a credible source of information for the purposes of assessing general conditions in which republican prisoners are held in Maghaberry. She said it amounted to “objective, reliable, specific and updated information” that rebutted the presumption that full-body searches were necessary on entry and exit to Maghaberry prison due to available technology.

“This means that the general conditions in Roe House (at Maghaberry prison) in so far as they relate to strip-searching raise a real risk that this respondent could be subjected to inhuman and degrading conditions on surrender,” she said.

Ms Justice Donnelly asked that further information be obtained in this jurisdiction and from the North of Ireland to show that this technology is limited or that there are specific reasons why strip-searching on entering and leaving the prison are necessary, or that Mr McLaughlin will not be subject to such strip-searching on each individual occasion he enters and leaves the prison.

The judge requested the Minister for Justice to provide her with “any relevant information” about the technology in use in this jurisdiction and she also requested further information from the UK.

A resumed hearing will take place on November 21 and Mr McLaughlin was remanded in custody until that date.

With many thanks to: Irish Republican Prisoner News. 

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