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

Till debt do us part: How goes the Irish Economy in 2024?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Apr 28th, 2024 at 01:10:47 PM EST

A screenshot of a computer screen Description automatically generated

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Getting Real about Northern Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 18th, 2024 at 09:20:19 PM EST

On several occasions now I have written an OP in response to one by Andy Pollak. I hope he takes it as a sort of back-handed compliment: no one better espouses what I call the conventional approach to reconciliation than he. According to this view, reconciliation must happen before, during, and after any border poll and is to be arrived at by nationalists and unionists talking to each other, and arriving at some sort of compromise down the middle, with Ireland becoming more British to make unionists feel more comfortable and unionists coming to accept that their might just be a little smidgeon of Irishness in their background and traditions, which can be incorporated, to some degree, in some sort of woolly, as yet undefined, complex consociational set of structures in a very blurry new Ireland that they can just about live with.

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Reconciliation or Conversion?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Mar 31st, 2024 at 04:45:52 PM EST

Andy Pollak has written another impassioned plea for reconciliation in Northern Ireland as a precursor to any border poll. In an ideal world that is obviously very desirable. But there is also a danger that we confuse political reconciliation with social, community, and or religious reconciliation.

For many nationalists, division was caused by partition, and reconciliation can only begin when partition has ended and that scar has healed. For many unionists, division was caused by Irish independence, and reconciliation can only begin when Ireland re-joins the UK, or at the very least when nationalists in Northern Ireland accept the permanence UK rule, and thereby cease to be Irish nationalists, and become, in effect, unionists. How has that worked out in practice, given it has been embedded in the status quo for 100 years?

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England, Wales and Scotland all now in favour of Irish unification

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 21st, 2024 at 10:59:26 PM EST

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What would a united Ireland look like?

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 14th, 2024 at 01:46:23 PM EST

Terry Wright asks the quite reasonable question: "What will a united Ireland look like?" and unionists often feel frustrated when they get what appears to them to be an unclear answer. But there is also a problem with the question because no one can foretell the future with absolute confidence and certainty. So perhaps it is more helpful (and accurate) to explain how the process of change is managed in Ireland, and how this might apply to Northern Ireland in a post re-unification scenario. There are a number of important points which should be noted in this regard:

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The Prospects for Sinn Féin

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 21st, 2024 at 10:21:58 PM EST

Former leader, Gerry Adams; Northern Ireland First Minister, Michelle O'Neill: and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

There have been quite a few posts on Slugger O'Toole by able writers such as Michael Palmer, Ian Clarke, and Brian Walker about the prospects for political unionism and particularly the DUP now that the Assembly and Executive have been restored. Mick Fealty has also written a perceptive piece on the opportunity that being the official opposition provides for the SDLP. But no one seems to be writing about the prospects for Sinn Féin.

Not being a member or supporter, and not having many contacts within the party, I am not in a good position to fill that void. But it seems to me that even from an outsider's perspective the changed situation provides some opportunities and threats for the party, to which they bring particular strengths and weaknesses. Let us look at each of these in turn:

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Saving Strand 1 of the Good Friday Agreement by thrashing Strand 2

by Frank Schnittger Mon Feb 19th, 2024 at 12:50:36 PM EST

Saving Strand 1 of the Good Friday Agreement by thrashing Strand 2 (and the Northern Ireland economy).

Writing in the Irish Times, Newton Emerson is fairly scathing about the DUP/UK government deal.
(Excerpt below)

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France 17, Ireland 38

by Frank Schnittger Sat Feb 3rd, 2024 at 12:10:06 AM EST

In my match preview I wrote:

I find the France Ireland match almost impossible to call. Both sides had a massive disappointment at the world cup, but both are still a top 4 side in the world. Both sides have lost a few key players, but seem to have the strength in depth to cope. Both sides have gone with a 6:2 bench split, which is risky in the event of injuries.

I think Ireland are in a good place, but home advantage is a huge factor when playing the French. Our away wins in France are as rare as hen's teeth, and our last win there took 40 odd phases and a 45 metre drop goal for us to snatch it at the death - by a man named Sexton, with an iron will and nerves of steel.

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Ending All Ireland Cooperation

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 31st, 2024 at 11:32:10 PM EST

Paragraphs 114 to 116 of the UK Government Command Paper "Safeguarding the Union" (The DUP deal with the UK Government) contains provision for ending all British Government commitment to protecting the all-Island economy in Ireland as previously agreed with the EU in 2017, and provided for in the UK European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

On the face of it this constitutes a unilateral resiling on agreements previously reached with the EU, and a slap in the face for the Irish government and its commitment to provide funding for cross-border projects and projects within Northern Ireland under the Shared Island Initiative.

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What was it all for?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 31st, 2024 at 07:10:34 PM EST

The events of the DUP meeting on Monday night have been variously described as a farce and a very important crossing of the Rubican. The remarkable thing is that both interpretations may be true.

On the one hand you have the harsh reality that not a letter of the Protocol or the Windsor framework have been changed, the operation of which was always going to be subject to operational and political review, depending on any practical difficulties with contraband goods appearing within the Single Market, and the political will of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Seen from this perspective, the DUP decision and the assurances given to them by the UK government are an enormous climbdown from the hard Brexit pursued by successive Tory governments and particularly by the DUP and their ERG allies.

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Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 27th, 2024 at 02:10:37 PM EST

On August 1st. 2023, The Daily Mail reported that Sunak had decided to retain the CE mark for British produce. In a piece entitled: "Rishi Sunak performs another Brexit climbdown as PM allows British firms to continue using EU's 'CE' safety mark on products 'indefinitely' rather than new UKCA alternative" Greg Heffer, Political Correspondent For Mailonline wrote:

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In Defence of Donaldson

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 25th, 2024 at 01:29:21 AM EST

 Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, has been getting a bad press for what seems like his eternal dithering over devolution and failure to move the process forward. It is said that the party officers are split and that he can't carry his Executive with him. Even if he does succeed in persuading a narrow majority to support his deal there is a risk of a hugely damaging party split with the anti-Protocol or Windsor Framework faction defecting to the TUV or some other new party.

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Where stands Irish rugby?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jan 24th, 2024 at 12:29:45 PM EST

So where stands Irish rugby after the conclusion of the pool stages of the Champions Cup and before the start of the 6 Nations?

Leinster qualified second out of 16 qualifiers with a home draw all the way to the Semi-final and with the final at Spurs ground in Tottenham anyway. Munster must face their nemesis, Northampton, away, having just lost to them at Thomond Park. But such is their strength in adversity, I wouldn't bet against them progressing further, their injury crisis at lock notwithstanding.

Ulster and Connacht are consigned to the last 16 of the Challenge Cup, after uneven performances at the pool stage. Even their most avid fans will probably concede that is their level right now. They have away matches against Montpellier and Pau respectively, which will be no walk in the park.

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The Leadership of lemmings

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jan 11th, 2024 at 12:56:13 PM EST

A response to Andy Pollak's book review of The Long Game: Inside Sinn Fein...

I have now drafted two responses to Andy Pollak's book review: The Long Game: Inside Sinn Fein... - Once, a couple of days ago on his own blog Two Irelands Together, and once on Slugger O'Toole. The first disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again, and I hadn't the heart to try and re-write it. The second fell on deaf ears as the column had been closed for comments by the time I pressed publish. So much for allowing commentators more time for more considered comments!

So, I decided to follow Brian's advice and submit it as an OP instead.  I do so with some trepidation because it makes no attempt at "balance" or "moderation." It is a "top of the head" response rather than a substantial piece in its own right. I have no doubt it could elicit a robust response, but sometimes it may be best just to say it as you see it. There is little point in beating about the bush. So here goes:

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Planning for a better future

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 5th, 2024 at 07:48:09 PM EST

Commentators on Slugger O'Toole and elsewhere have been keen to emphasize all the things Ireland must do to make a united Ireland an attractive proposition for unionists. The presumption seems to be that if you want something badly enough, you have to be prepared to pay for it. Some exhibit an impatience that no one - not Sinn Féin nor the Irish government - has started the bidding.

Conversely, opinion polls in the south, while supportive of Irish re-unification, generally show an unwillingness to make concessions that might make Ireland more "British," and particularly any concessions that might cost real money. The assumption seems to be that unionists are welcome to join "us," but they will be joining Ireland, not some pale imitation of a bygone Britain.

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World Rugby Cup Final: South Africa 12, New Zealand 11.

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 29th, 2023 at 11:39:15 AM EST

Once again, the pundits are ascribing huge significance to the Springboks world cup victory when it could just as easily be described as a random event occasioned by small margins. The Boks won three matches by one point (and lost to Ireland by five) and had the rub of the green last night.

The All Blacks were denied a brilliant try by an almost imperceptible knock on (itself occasioned by an illegal playing of their man in the air) and also had a penalty wrongly awarded against Savea when it should have been the other way around. They had a man sent off early on for shoulder on head, but the ref missed a clear elbow to the head of Cane by Etzebeth.

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The End Game: New Zealand 28 Ireland 24

by Frank Schnittger Sat Oct 21st, 2023 at 01:02:46 PM EST

A million words have been written about this match and my policy as a blogger is never to repeat any of them: Unless you have something original to say, the best policy is to say nothing. And the truth is: there is not much left to say. As expected, the match was a tight 50:50 contest which could have gone either way, but Ireland simply left themselves with too much to do when they went 13-0 down early on.

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Rugby World Cup: Ireland 36 Scotland 14

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 8th, 2023 at 05:00:36 PM EST

The first hour of this match was the best I have ever seen Ireland play. Not only were they absolutely clinical in taking nearly all their chances, but they defended as if their lives depended on it. 36-0 and 6 tries to nil after an hour against a very good side like Scotland is the stuff that dreams are made of.

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Ireland 13 South Africa 8

by Frank Schnittger Sun Sep 24th, 2023 at 08:55:43 AM EST

Rugby World Cup: Ireland 13 South Africa 8

There is an old rugby aphorism that it is the forwards who decide who wins a match, and the backs decide by how much. The Irish backs decided they weren't having any of that, dealing with the Springboks kicking game and providing an almost impregnatable wall in defence. Faf De Klerk and Mannie Libbok are a wonderful pair of half backs, but their place kicking can be iffy, and on the night, it was their lack of place kicking accuracy that decided the scoreboard in Ireland's favour.

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Rugby World Cup 2023 Week 1 review

by Frank Schnittger Mon Sep 11th, 2023 at 10:12:58 AM EST

The world Cup has kicked off with some fantastic matches, great play, and some intriguing results.

France 27 New Zealand 13
Italy 52 Namibia 8
Ireland 82 Romania 8
Australia 35 Georgia 15
England 27 Argentina 10
Japan 42 Chile 12
South Africa 18 Scotland 3
Wales 32 Fiji 26

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