Monday, 27 January 2020

The Independent Mind of Rabbie Burns. 1759 – 2020

The man o' independent mind – he looks and laughs at aa that”.

The genius of Scotland's immortal bard has appealed to many folks for many different reasons. He had an exceptional ability to deeply understand humanity and to express his observations through his advanced skills in verbal and written communication. He was able to reach people from a wide range of social, political, religious and philosophical backgrounds.

Hardly surprising then that people with contrasting views and ethics seek to embrace him as one of their own. What is it about this 18th Century bard that still makes his life and works so relevant in this present day?

Monday, 30 December 2019

Ulster at the Crossroads - yet again. Part Three.

Ulster Crossroads
By Willie Drennan

 Considering options at the Crossroads.

Very soon the people of Northern Ireland will have to decide which road to take: the one connected to the UK and the world beyond, or the one that remains within the EU.

A Border Poll just now however would be the same thing as a 2nd EU Referendum for the people of Northern Ireland: the notion of a Dublin-controlled united Ireland is currently not an option. Ireland is currently part and parcel of the EU Project and is essentially governed from Brussels.

A 2nd EU Referendum only makes sense once the whole of the UK has left the EU for a number of years. In the 2016 referendum the British people collectively instructed government and parliament to deliver a UK exit from the EU. If that result cannot be respected and implemented, for the whole of the UK, then democracy as we know it is denied to part of the UK.

The 2016 referendum was about deciding if the UK should Leave or Remain in the EU. It was not about deciding if parts of the UK should leave or remain in the UK.

Provision in the NI Protocol for a vote in Stormont, 5 years after Brexit for the rest of the UK, is not the same thing as a Border Poll/ 2nd Referendum. It does not provide a clear mechanism for Northern Ireland exiting the EU and being fully integrated in the UK once again.

In such circumstances where democracy has obviously failed the people of Northern Ireland it is hard to comprehend what will happen – extreme reactions to extreme actions of the ruling classes have been the norm throughout history. Notions of independence for Northern Ireland, or parts of Northern Ireland, are already being discussed in certain circles. But with no strong leadership to pull something like that off, such a doomsday scenario does not seem credible for now.

The restoration of the Stormont Assembly is hardly going to help in any way. With its unique system of mandatory coalition it has been proven to be totally dysfunctional to date. Until the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement gets revisited and Stormont goes through root and branch reform it is difficult to imagine how it could ever agree on anything. The politicians and media in Northern Ireland have been enthusiastic to get Stormont up and running again but there is little or no such enthusiasm from anyone else.

Other more positive and innovative options need to be explored. Alternative roads: different roads, need to be created and developed at the crossroads. Alternative roads leading towards economic revival and self-reliance for Northern Ireland.   

Free Ports, Free Zones and Enterprise Zones.

Ulster At The Crossroads – yet again. Part Two


 We Are Where We Are. – How did we get to the crossroads?

We need to understand our history in order to plan for our future. In the same way we need to understand how we arrived at the crossroads in order to figure out the best road to take at the crossroads.

Here are some factors not necessarily in order of importance. These are the relevant facts as I understand them.

In the 2016 EU Referendum the UK voted Leave and only 44% of Northern I Ireland voted Leave. Under the Withdrawal Agreement this now means that NI remains under EU laws and regulation while the rest of the UK endeavours to Leave. 

Due to the size of the majority Leave vote, if Northern Ireland had voted 100% to Remain, the result would be the same as above.

The Irish Border was weaponised by the EU even during the referendum campaign. Since the result the EU and Irish nationalists have constantly stated that the wishes of Northern Ireland must be respected and so must remain in the EU. Elements of the establishment in Britain now seem to accept this as well. Allowing part of the UK to remain under EU control seems to be considered by some politicos as a price worth paying.