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

The chattering Irish Europhile class

by Frank Schnittger Wed Sep 8th, 2021 at 03:58:41 AM EST

Eoin Drea, a researcher at the EPP affiliated Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies in Brussels, has a go at the "The chattering Irish Europhile class" in his piece entitled "Ireland is no longer viewed as a credible voice on key issues in Brussels"(Sadly, subscriber only). In it he castigates Ireland's failure to sign up to the nascent OECD corporate tax reform involving a minimum 15% tax rate but totally misreads the Irish Government's reason for doing so.

Almost everyone in Ireland regards global corporate tax reform as desirable and inevitable and the proposed 15% tax rate is hardly a precipitous increase on Ireland's current rate of 12.5%. But as always, in tax matters, the devil is in the detail, and that detail will be determined in large measure by Biden's slim majorities in Congress, all the more so as many Democrats are as sceptical as Republicans about anything that might displease their major donors.

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DUP decline continues

by Frank Schnittger Sun Aug 29th, 2021 at 09:35:01 PM EST

It is not my practice to write stories based on a single opinion poll, but polls in N. Ireland are few and far between and are currently of additional significance because they give a snapshot of the parties current standing ahead of Assembly elections which must take place by next May. The next assembly is due to vote on the continuance of the Northern Ireland Protocol in 2024, and so its significance extends to Ireland and the EU in general.

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Vaccine hesitancy and public trust

by Frank Schnittger Sat Aug 21st, 2021 at 01:08:10 PM EST


Professor Dolores Cahill of University College Dublin

Anyone perusing the internet will find it littered with anti-vaxers and conspiracy theorists many of them from the extreme far right of the libertarian fringe. Fragments of scientific research become hoisted to gospel truth without reference to what may be an overwhelming mountain of countervailing evidence. All sorts of conspiracy theories involving George Soros or Bill Gates are re-purposed to support the anti-vaxer cause. One such theorist is professor Dolores Cahill of University College Dublin  who has just had a warrant issued for her arrest in London for organising a protest gathering during lockdown.

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The dog that didn't bark

by Frank Schnittger Thu Aug 19th, 2021 at 10:44:56 PM EST

For most of the summer British Ministers Brandon Lewis (N. Ireland Secretary) and Lord Frost (Brexit Minister) have been hyping up the risk of violence in Northern Ireland if the Northern Ireland protocol isn't radically re-negotiated. But strangely their dog whistles have fallen on deaf ears. So far, the marching season has passed by without major incident.

The fiasco of the election of Edwin Poots as DUP Leader and his replacement after a few weeks by Jeffrey Donaldson has kept the political focus firmly on the DUP. Even the dogs in the street know that Brexit in N. Ireland is largely the creation of the DUP and their erstwhile ally, Boris Johnson. So, who are the rioters supposed to be rioting against?

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Art for progress's sake [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger Sun Aug 1st, 2021 at 01:46:12 PM EST

The Irish Museum of Modern Art is putting on a four part programme of exhibitions to celebrate it's 30 years of existence. Funding for the arts in Ireland has always been minimal, and even more so for avant garde, innovative, or progressive modern art. And yet many Irish artists have contributed significantly to the social revolution that has happened in Ireland over the past 30 years. I must declare a personal interest as a close personal fiend, Pauline Cummins, is one such artist who will be featured in a later phase of the programme.

The Irish Times Arts and Culture Editor, Hugh Linehan, has seen fit to publish a hatchet job on the programme, having to date only seen some promotional material for the launch of the programme. Many people find the verbiage that accompanies much of modern art hard to take, but that is not a reason to condemn a whole generation of artists who have contributed so much to the development of Irish art and positive social change with very little official encouragement whatsoever.

I have sent the letter below to the Irish Times as my riposte to his vitriolic condemnation, although I doubt it will be published as the Irish Times has a track record of not publishing any letters critical of its journalism. [update 2] Letter Published 3/8/21 with a critical response published August 6th. and my riposte published August 10th. [End Update]

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No need to cheer for England

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 16th, 2021 at 09:33:09 AM EST

It's becoming tiresome reading all that guff about Ireland really being closer to England than the EU, and that therefore anyone who supports anyone but England is being hypocritical or an extreme nationalist. And yes, this is coming from an Irish columnist living in England who voted Tory last time out.

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UK Menaces Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 7th, 2021 at 12:13:56 PM EST

Draft letter to the Editor:

A Chara, - The article by [former Irish Taoiseach and EU ambassador to Washington] John Briton in response to UK EU negotiator Lord Frost and NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis is well argued and well put. (John Bruton, UK ministers need to read the NI protocol they signed, Opinion, 7th. July). The subtitle sums it up nicely "No hint of contrition or constructiveness in article by Lord Frost and Brandon Lewis . . . just menace."

(continued below the fold)

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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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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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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.

Read more... (7 comments, 1420 words in story)

Human Rights

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 12:51:26 PM EST

I am currently re-organising my diary index into a series of sub-indexes as it had exceeded the maximum length allowed for a diary and was losing entries at the bottom. This will take some time as some data was lost and as I have not been able to update the main index for a year in consequence. Please bear with me as publishing the sub-indexes one by one is the only way I can do this. This is a background activity so please don't recommend the sub-indexes as they are published as I don't want them to appear prominently under recommended diaries. I will re-publish the main index with links to sub-indices in due course. Thanks.

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Frank's Diary Index: US Politics

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 12:27:52 PM EST

US Politics sub-index

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9. Global economics, politics, foreign policy and war.

by Frank Schnittger Sun May 16th, 2021 at 11:36:23 AM EST

I haven't been able to update my Story Index in ages because it has exceeded the maximum story length and was losing story entries at the bottom. So I'm going to break it up into multiple stories hyperlinked by topic.  Please bear with me as I have to publish each sub index in turn. Most of the links at the bottom are missing. I will fix in due course.

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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.

Read more... (31 comments, 1148 words in story)

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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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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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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