Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Sinn Féin to lead Ireland? Poots resigns

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 17th, 2021 at 11:50:15 AM EST

A crisis in the formation of a new Executive in Northern Ireland was averted last night when the British government agreed to bring forward legislation supporting the status of the Irish language and Ulster Scots dialect next October if the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly has not done so by then. The commitment to support minority languages had been included in the 2020 New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement which enabled the return to devolved power sharing after three years of direct rule from London caused by the collapse of Power sharing due to increasing tensions between Sinn Féin and the DUP over this and many other issues.

A failure to reach an agreement could have resulted in snap Assembly elections and/or a return to Direct Rule as the Good Friday Agreement requires the largest party in both the nationalist and unionist traditions to nominate a First and Deputy First Minister for a power sharing executive to be formed. Sinn Féin had refused to do so in the absence of progress on the issue. Both the DUP and Sinn Féin had lost votes at the last Assembly elections because of public impatience at their failure to form an Executive and operate the structures set up by the Good Friday Agreement.

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Memorial to Great Britain

by Helen Sun Jun 6th, 2021 at 01:46:26 PM EST

There was a sitcom on UK TV back in the 70s called "Whatever happened to the Likely Lads". A revival of an early 60s comedy show, showing how the 2 original young men were adjusting to early middle age and their changing responsibilities.

The Theme song went;-


Oh, what happened to you?
Whatever happened to me?
What became of the people
we used to be

Tomorrow's almost over
the day went by so fast
the only thing
we look forward to's
.....the past

Frontpaged with minor edits - Bernard

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The new Trump

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 5th, 2021 at 01:21:51 PM EST

Irish Independent, Letters: Edwin Poots's decision to stir trouble with his own `facts' is straight from the Trump playbook

The rhetoric from DUP leader Edwin Poots, about the Irish government, does little to promote peace and harmony. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne, June 05 2021 02:30 AM

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Denmark's traitorous spies

by IdiotSavant Sun May 30th, 2021 at 11:24:01 PM EST

Denmark has been spying on Germany for the NSA:

Denmark's secret service helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a European media investigation published on Sunday revealed.

The disclosure that the US had been spying on its allies first started coming to light in 2013, but it is only now that journalists have gained access to reports detailing the support given to the NSA by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE).

The report showed that Germany's close ally and neighbor cooperated with US spying operations that targeted the chancellor and president.

The then chancellor candidate for the German center-left socialist party (SPD), Peer Steinbrück, was also a target, the new report disclosed.

As the article notes, we'd known they were cooperating with the Americans to spy within the EU since 2013. What's new is the targets, which are explosive. And its not just Germany that was targetted: the article says they also spied on politicians in  Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France.

The good news is that the Danish government sacked the entire leadership of the FE last year over this. But the fact it even happened is highly disturbing, and really makes you wonder who the EU's spy agencies are really loyal to: their own European governments, or their American "allies".

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Intergenerational Justice, Part 2

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 29th, 2021 at 06:32:25 PM EST

Further to the discussion in Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21, the Irish Times has published another letter of mine trying to move the debate forward:

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Submission on Ireland Climate Action Plan 2021

by Frank Schnittger Mon May 24th, 2021 at 12:01:46 AM EST

The Irish government has issued a call for expert evidence in preparation for  the Climate Action Plan 2021 that it committed to as part of the programme for Government negotiated by the three parties in the coalition government: Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

I had not intended to write a submission, as I do not consider myself to be a climate science expert.  However I came across a submission written by the climate change sceptic Irish Climate Science Forum and decided that it required a response. Their submission is not yet published on-line, and I will link to it when it is. However in summary, they contend that:

  1. There is no scientific basis for declaring a climate change emergency

  2. The government has not seriously considered the real implications of the proposed 2030 climate mitigation targets

  3. Ireland cannot afford the likely costs of meeting those targets.

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Poots to lead DUP - where?

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 14th, 2021 at 06:33:41 PM EST

Edwin Poots has defeated Jeffrey Donaldson 19-17 in the first ever vote for the leadership of the DUP. Previous Leaders - founder Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster had been elected unopposed. The electorate consisted of elected DUP MPs and MLAs (Members of the N. Ireland Legislative Assembly) following a campaign which consisted of no public interviews whatsoever and just a 10 minute speech to a closed meeting of the electors. Apparently this was because the DUP considered the election an "internal matter", but it confirmed just how inward looking the DUP has become.

After his election, Poots promised to reach out to other leaders of Unionism in order to see unionists working together better. There was no mention of reaching out to nationalists or the growing numbers in N. Ireland who self-identify as neither unionist nor nationalist. His political priority is to end the N. Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement because it has created a customs border down the Irish sea, although he is all in favour of such a border when it comes to not implementing UK laws on homosexuality and same sex marriages.

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Intergenerational Justice - Updated 15/5/21

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 11th, 2021 at 10:10:53 AM EST

Letter published by the Irish Times today under the heading:
Older people have never had it so good

A chara, – Several of your esteemed commentators have written letters bemoaning ageism and their perceived victimisation by society at large, and yet many older people have never had it so good.

Ireland's life expectancy continues to increase, and older people are consuming an increasing proportion of Ireland's ballooning health expenditure.

Older people have been favoured by earlier access to vaccines despite many younger frontline workers being more exposed to potential infection.

Unemployment is hugely skewed against younger people in our society, with 59% of people aged 15-24 currently unemployed.

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Goodbye Arlene Foster

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 01:49:02 PM EST

Such has been the DUP's reputation for incompetence under leader Arlene Foster that many might make the mistake of seeing her departure as a positive development. However what finally broke the back of her support within the party is not the many scandals under her tenure - the collapse of Northern Ireland's power sharing executive in 2017, the loss of the unionist majority at Stormont, or the intense scrutiny of a judicial inquiry into her stewardship of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. It was her decision to abstain rather than vote against a Stormont motion condemning "gay conversion" therapies that ensured her demise.

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Why Fear Deficits?

by ARGeezer Thu Apr 29th, 2021 at 03:21:10 AM EST

Depressions usually start with a contraction of the money supply. In 1929 that contraction occurred in the fall, just when money needed to come out of the stock market so it could be used to transport crops to market. But the stock market was in a speculative bubble and this demand to sell stocks for cash caused the bubble to collapse.

 In 2008 there was a massive bubble in securities backed by real estate. When it was discovered that the assets backing most of these securities was only worth 60% of their face value, and that most banks and financial institutions had lots of these securities on their books all confidence in the financial system collapsed. Banks would not lend to other banks. Money Market funds 'broke the buck', letters of credit needed  for the export market ceased to be honored and the entire payment clearance system in the USA and the world froze.  

Frontpaged with minor edit - Frank Schnittger

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Hiding behind a sofa: European hypocrisy

by Bernard Mon Apr 19th, 2021 at 06:26:45 PM EST

Coming back to the infamous "sofagate" incident after two weeks, there are still a couple of points that look important and are worth pointing out.

First, cui bono? There are good arguments that the snub wasn't deliberate because (1) Erdogan had nothing to gain from humiliating VDL and the EU, and (2) Turkey wanted to cool down the relations that had gone quite tense with EU countries like Greece or Cyprus (or even France), and discuss more concrete things like customs union, which is very important for Turkey. The former Turkey ambassador to the EU blames the faux-pas on "on inexperience and a lack of institutional memory on both sides."

Then again, the opposite view is that Erdogan did humiliate the EU because he could and would never do that to, say, Merkel. In any case, there could have been a mixture of both, actually.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Time for Unionists to grow up

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 15th, 2021 at 03:17:03 PM EST

Peter Cardwell is an author and journalist and former special adviser to two Conservative secretaries of state for Northern Ireland. He lost his job as special adviser to the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor at the Ministry of Justice in a Boris Johnson cabinet reshuffle last year, and was previously special adviser to then Tory NI secretary of state James Brokenshire between 2016 and 2018.

The Irish Times has given him space to pen his view that "Unionism [is] not emotionally ready for conversation about united Ireland" in the latest of a long series of opinion pieces it has published from British and unionist sources, most of which have received a scathing reception from the Irish Times commentariat. I have written a long letter to the editor in response:

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EU must decide if it wants to be taken seriously

by Frank Schnittger Sat Apr 10th, 2021 at 09:37:01 PM EST

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The Future of the GOP

by ARGeezer Sun Apr 4th, 2021 at 11:08:32 AM EST

One of my thoughtful conservative FB friends thinks the election results in 2020 are a bit of a fluke and that the Republicans will come back strong in '22 and '24. I beg to differ.

The problem for the GOP is that their base remains loyal to Trump, while four years of Trump soured enough voters to cost the GOP the presidency. Under Trump the GOP SHRUNK its base. Meanwhile Trump keeps being Trump and his core support, older white voters, predominantly male,   remains strong. That base will deliver him victories in most of the states of the old confederacy along with the plains states from Oklahoma to N. Dakota. Not enough to win the Electoral College.

Worse, Georgia can no longer be counted as solid Republican and Texas is coming into play, both for the Presidency and the House and Senate. If Beto O'Rourke runs against Gregg Abbot for Governor of Texas in '22 he could well win after Abbot's conduct during the blizzard, and Texas could vote Democratic in '24. If that happens and O'Rourke carries at least one house of the legislature with him, and Texas turns blue, not just purple, it is much more likely that Texas would vote for the Democrat for President in '24 and it is game over for the GOP as a national party.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Looking for a scapegoat

by Frank Schnittger Sat Mar 27th, 2021 at 10:42:55 AM EST

The vaccine roll-out has been a bit of a disaster for the EU, so obviously somebody has to be at fault. In the infantile world of much modern politics it's all about finding a scapegoat and it looks like the Irish government has decided that Ursula Von Der Leyen would be a good candidate for the role. Former UK Conservative party Leader and Brexiteer, William Hague, has described Ursula von der Leyen's time as president of the European Commission as "among the most dismal in its existence" and he clearly has the EU's best interests at heart. I have drafted a letter to the editor as follows:

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How Green is Ireland's Farming?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Mar 21st, 2021 at 09:45:16 PM EST

In 2019 the Irish Government announced the formation of a "stakeholder committee" to develop Ireland's Agri-Food Strategy to 2030. This included the great and the good in the agribusiness community plus some public service agency heads and representatives of the Farmers and Fishermen's associations. Representatives of the "environmental and food safety perspectives" were only appointed afterwards and their contributions studiously ignored to the point where the environmental representative felt obliged to resign.  Hence my letter to the editor below:

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Irish economy disengages from Britain

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 18th, 2021 at 08:16:58 PM EST


Annualised GDP growth per Quarter

Despite Brexit and the Pandemic, the Irish economy is predicted to record the highest growth rate in the world in 2020 thanks to a heavy concentration of pharma and medtech companies in the economy. Current projections for 2021 and 2022 are for continued growth in the 3-4% range. Gross GDP figures are, of course, hugely inflated by the activities of global corporations in the economy, but these % growth rates are on a like for like basis.

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Will Rutte's Falsehoods Catch Up With Him?

by Oui Tue Mar 16th, 2021 at 02:10:21 PM EST

[Update-1]

Unexpectedly, not to my surprise, the BIG lie caught up with caretaker PM Mark Rutte ...

The End of Mark Rutte? | April 1, 2021 |

Trust eroded badly from pre-election 54% to 25% today 😡

END OF UPDATE

In recent weeks the Liberal Freedom Party VVD lost the equivalent of 10 seats in polling from a record high of 43 seats. Mark Rutte back on Earth.

Conservative Dutch leader has a long list of mismanagement in government during his tenure of 10 years.

The most serious for me is the obfuscation, his secrecy in decision making and withholding crucial information from Parliament - de Tweede Kamer. This deficit has been named the Rutte Doctrine.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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British Empire and Silencing Dissent

by Oui Sun Mar 14th, 2021 at 09:26:44 AM EST

In the week of Women's Rights ...

#ClaphamCommon #ReclaimTheseStreets

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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The British Empire and Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 11th, 2021 at 01:31:14 AM EST


The British Empire and Ireland

A chara, - Professor Nigel Biggar writes: "If colonialists can `other' the natives, essentialising them into contemptible stereotypes, nationalists, too, can `other' the imperialists." This is a classic case of "both sides do it" as if there is an equivalence between the actions of the oppressor and the oppressed. The slave is not equally guilty of slavery as the slaver, even if he has reconciled himself to his fate, and ends up working for his enslaver.


The Irish literary and language revival was an act of opposition to colonial rule, not an expression of it, as Prof Biggar seems to imply. The fact that there were many outstanding individuals, some earning their living as servants of the empire, who did not subscribe to the "imperial project" and indeed ameliorated its worst effects, does not alter the fact that the main thrust of UK government imperial policy was one of domination and suppression.

History is complex, with many interwoven narratives, but to try to obscure its main thrust with anecdotes about those few people who swam against the tide is hardly an "ethical remembering". It demeans the achievements of those who stood out against the worst aspects of imperialism and uses them to justify or mitigate the acts of its worst perpetrators. Far from constituting a balanced historiography, it is a shocking washing of hands by a professor of moral theology. - Is mise,

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News and Views

 June2021

by Bernard - Jun 1, 147 comments

Your take on this month's news

 May 2021

by Bernard - May 2, 160 comments

Your take on this month's news

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by Bernard - May 2, 39 comments

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