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Sovereignty 2040

by Frank Schnittger Sat Sep 2nd, 2023 at 08:36:48 AM EST

My first book (and venture into fictional writing) is about to be self-published with Amazon/Kindle. It may not be available to order for a couple of days but will become available in Kindle, paperback and hardback formats. Your support and reference to any of your contacts or friends who may be interested would be much appreciated.

The book is a future history written from the perspective of 2040, 15 years after Irish re-unification. It is written in the form of a memoir by a young English journalist who ends up falling in love with an Irishwoman, Ireland, its people, and its politics. It gives a personal account of how a Border Poll was called, why it was carried, and what happened afterwards. It traces the development of a unified Irish state over a 15 year transition period and looks at how it all turned out, from a variety of points of view in Ireland and Britain.

The Good Friday Agreement is silent on what happens after a Border Poll is carried out and returns a majority for re-unification. My book is an attempt to flesh out, in a hopefully informative, entertaining, and amusing way, what could and should happen!

Table of contents below...

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Sovereignty 2045, Chapter 5: A Draft New British Irish Treaty...

by Frank Schnittger Sun Aug 20th, 2023 at 12:54:42 PM EST

Keir Starmer was in a tricky position. With 290 seats he was 36 short of an overall majority and only two ahead of the Lib Dems and the Tories combined. Only the SNP could give him an overall majority, and they refused all entreaties to support his government unless he would agree to a second independence referendum to be carried out within 12 months. He might even have been agreeable to that if they not also insisted on a Treaty between Britain and a newly independent Scotland which would transfer all British assets in Scotland to the new Scottish state, together with only a small portion of the UK national debt proportionate with its population.

Published on Slugger O'Toole

Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Squad

by Frank Schnittger Sun Aug 20th, 2023 at 12:49:00 PM EST

Andy Farrell is due to announce his final 33 man world cup squad next Monday after Ireland's final warm up match against Samoa on Saturday. No doubt some fringe players will get another chance to impress on Saturday, but the vast bulk of the  squad will have been pencilled in on his World Rugby squad notification form.

Ireland play at least one less warm up match than most other nations in the belief that the risk of injury to key players is too high. Ireland's previous World Cup debacles have been caused, in large measure, by injuries to key players. Instead, the focus has been on very intensive training sessions and a science led fitness programme.

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Sovereignty 2045 Chapter 4: Election Night!

by Frank Schnittger Tue Aug 15th, 2023 at 04:59:12 PM EST

I was out and about at various voting centres in Belfast on election day in October 2024 being careful to divide my time between protestant, Catholic, middle class and working class areas. Most people were happy enough to chat though some gave me the middle finger. Reactions were sharply divided with many unionists saying they were protesting against "Sunak selling out our country when it isn't even his to sell!"
This chapter follows on from:
Chapter 1: My private meeting with Rishi Sunak
Chapter 2: The Bombshell
Chapter 3: Belfast

Chapter 4 is posted on Slugger O'Toole here

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Chapter 3: Belfast

by Frank Schnittger Mon Aug 7th, 2023 at 02:23:54 PM EST

Sovereignty 2045 Chapter 3:

Much has been written about the amazing result of the 2024 UK General Election. As I was now the Climate Change Correspondent of the Tribune, I didn't actually cover the lead up to the campaigns as a professional reporter. However, as an amateur enthusiast I kind of felt I knew how it would all play out, even though I had little hard evidence to back up my hunches.

This chapter follows on from:

Chapter 1: My private meeting with Rishi Sunak
Chapter 2: The Bombshell

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Sovereignty 2045 Chapter 2: The Bombshell

by Frank Schnittger Wed Aug 2nd, 2023 at 08:09:47 AM EST

Chapter 2: The Bombshell

Continued from Sovereignty 2024: My meeting with Rishi Sunak

My second private briefing in Chequers in August 2024 wasn't all that different from the first. The rumour was that the PM was considering calling the general election for October. He didn't want to have to reconvene parliament to give Labour a platform to lambaste the Government. Better to get it over with quickly. The public wouldn't start paying attention until September anyway, and memories of a paltry budget were fading.

Also posted on Slugger O'Toole.

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Sovereignty 2045 Chapter 1:

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jul 31st, 2023 at 11:06:55 AM EST

My private meeting with Rishi Sunak

My story begins one fine summers day back in 2024 in Chequers, the country home of the British Prime Minister. The PM had just been given a rather ominous briefing on the prospects for the British economy. A general election was in the offing and there was almost no good news for the PM to build a campaign around. I was there as a relatively new reporter for the Tribune, a reputable British broadsheet not known to be overly well disposed to the Conservative government.

Our senior political correspondents had all tied their colours to mast, declaring the government to be a lost cause and facing inevitable defeat. The government press office had asked for a "more objective" reporter to be sent to a private and confidential press briefing with the PM.  Even though I was still very junior, I was the only one on the political staff who wasn't either on holiday or known to be hostile to the government. My editor told me it was my big break and not to f*ck it up.

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The Windsor Framework Redux

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jul 27th, 2023 at 09:28:07 AM EST

In Pleas for greater speed and transparency must be heeded if the Windsor Framework is to succeed, Brian Walker presents continuing discussions on the operation of the Windsor Framework as being simply a case of finding practical solutions to practical problems. But there are at least five distinct games being played here:

Also posted on Slugger O'Toole, where the usual lively discussion is in progress

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Nothing Compares 2 You

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 26th, 2023 at 09:24:33 PM EST

RIP Sinéad O'Connor 1966-2023

Along with U2, Van Morrison, The Cranberries, The Boomtown Rats (Bob Geldof), Riverdance and perhaps Rory Gallagher and The Pogues, Sinéad O'Connor is one of the few Irish musical acts who can be said to have made it into the global musical consciousness.

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Britain Abandoning Northern Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 5th, 2023 at 07:44:36 PM EST

In Dáil Elections 2024 - Predicting the Northern Six Counties... David Nesbitt paints a benign picture of elections taking place for Dail Eireann in the northern 6 counties after a shock border poll for a united Ireland in 2024. He assumes there will be a smooth transfer of sovereignty with no mention of violence or disruption and no transitionary period for Stormont.

Cross-posted from Slugger O'Toole, where it has attracted 9,000 readers and 850 comments!

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The Smug Racist Republic versus the Globalising Elite

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 23rd, 2023 at 07:32:39 PM EST

This is the third time I have felt compelled to respond to a speech or Opinion Piece by my friend Andy Pollak whom I hold in the highest regard despite disagreeing with him so fundamentally on several issues.

Crossposted from Slugger O'Toole.

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Advising DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson...

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 15th, 2023 at 09:33:22 PM EST

Imagine you have just landed a job as adviser to DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson. Your job is to make him and the DUP look good and promote the Union with Britain.

Would you: A) Crash the democratic institutions of Northern Ireland within the UK, inhibit investment in Northern Ireland by creating maximum political and policy instability, enrage the UK government to the point that it proposes a punishment budget for Northern Ireland, and alienate everyone broadly disposed to support the Union but who doesn't vote DUP?

Or B) Make sure Northern Ireland political institutions work as well as possible, promote investment in the economy, work hand in glove with your allies in Westminster to improve public services in Northern Ireland, and work hard to build a broad political coalition of all those prepared to make Northern Ireland work better within the Union?

Cross-posted from Slugger O'Toole

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The last thing Sinn Féin want...

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jun 10th, 2023 at 02:44:21 PM EST

The last thing Sinn Féin want is to let the DUP off the hook they have impaled themselves on...

Newton Emerson, a unionist commentator, has an article up on the Irish Times about Sinn Féin's confused approach to the current Northern Ireland political impasse. He accuses Michelle O'Neill of trying to contort reality into an archaic Republican world view during her current trip to Washington.

Apparently, according to Emerson's view of Sinn Féin, the problem is the British, and specifically the Tory, failure to put sufficient pressure on the DUP to force their return to operating the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

Cross-posted from Slugger O'Toole, the leading Northern Ireland political website.

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Ireland 2023 Rugby World Cup Squad selected

by Frank Schnittger Wed May 31st, 2023 at 10:46:26 AM EST

Andy Farrell has announced his 42 man training squad for the world cup, and true to form, has not been afraid to make some hard choices. The dominant theme is one of loyalty to the players who have enabled Ireland win a Grand Slam and maintain their place at the top of the world rankings.

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Southern Irish disinterest in Northern Ireland affairs

by Frank Schnittger Sat May 27th, 2023 at 08:48:56 PM EST

A response to Andy Pollak's complaint about the southern Irish media

My friend Andy Pollak has written long and eloquently about the ignorance of the southern electorate of all things north of the border, and delights in quoting academics who share this view. Academic disdain for the ignorance of the masses is, of course, nothing new, but in fairness, Andy’s latest treatise on Slugger O'Toole on the ignorance of the southern media could only have been written by an insider who knows the industry well.

As someone who has never been published in the southern media other than in a couple of hundred Letters to the Editor or a feature, in the Village Magazine, critical of the Irish Times website reboot some years ago, I have no particular interest in defending it.

And yet I find myself in utter disagreement with Andy.

Ireland is a small country, with a limited media market and very few prominent titles, each with their own agenda. The state broadcaster, like any state broadcaster, tends not to stray too far from government policy.

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Leinster's demise and Munster's hope

by Frank Schnittger Tue May 23rd, 2023 at 10:08:47 AM EST

Leinster have been hailed by many as the world's best club rugby team for some time now, an assessment which failed to take account of their failure to win a European Cup for 5 years, which is half a professional rugby player's average lifetime. True, they were beaten by a last minute try in the final in Marseilles last year, and La Rochelle were again twice within the width of a post of losing this year.  

Munster also required a last gasp drop goal to seal the deal against a largely second-string Leinster side in the Semi Final of the URC, and the loss through injury of Sexton, and during this year's final, of Ryan, Furlong and Henshaw should not be underestimated. These are the leaders of the team, and without them Leinster became increasingly defensive and negative in their mindset, hoofing the ball out of defence with no thought of a more creative (and brave) approach.

After an outstanding start, Leinster started to lose the set piece and collisions, and with that, gradually, the psychological battle as well. It can be incredibly difficult to win a rugby match if your scrum and maul defence is under pressure, if you can't win any opposition line-outs, and if you are losing the collisions and battle of the break-down as well.

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The end is Nigh?

by Frank Schnittger Fri May 5th, 2023 at 09:59:17 PM EST

I would like to open up a discussion on the future of the European Tribune. As will be obvious to regulars here, the level of participation and contribution has been in decline now for many years, since the hey day of blogging on the internet.

It's partly in line with global trends, where short form text and video based social media have been taking over from longer forms of blogging. Perhaps there is also an element of the European ideal losing its appeal, or worse, being taken for granted by younger writers.

But it's also undeniable that our user base has been ageing, dying off, and not being replaced by a younger cohort. I am now the last remaining active front-pager, and even I have started to write more for an Irish readership on Irish forums and newspapers. Even Brexit and the Ukraine war couldn't save us indefinitely.

So perhaps it is time to call it a day on a fascinating chapter in our lives that sadly is no more. Perhaps it is time to close ET down, much as it pains me to admit defeat in my efforts to keep it going. But I wouldn't want to take such a momentous step with consulting with the many who have contributed here over the years.

What does everyone remaining here think?

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NATO membership and Irish unity

by Frank Schnittger Thu Apr 27th, 2023 at 05:43:26 PM EST

Journalists, politicians, and political writers have a tendency to project their own political preferences onto their visions for the future, and nowhere is this more evident than when Irish writers express their visions for a united Ireland. Fintan O'Toole and Andy Pollak have frequently lamented the state of Irish society and vented their feelings about how things must change, allegedly to accommodate unionists, but in reality, to satisfy their own political preferences.

Former TD, MEP, and government Minister, Gay Mitchell is the latest to join the throng. Writing on the letter's page of the Irish Times he opines:

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A Rugby Clean Sweep to rival the Grand Slam

by Frank Schnittger Sun Apr 16th, 2023 at 07:02:33 PM EST

URC Round 17 Review:

Ulster 40 Dragons 19
Lions 36 Leinster 39
Stormers 24 Munster 26
Connacht 38 Cardiff 19

The Irish provinces have won clean sweeps in the URC and its previous incarnations before, but never a clean sweep, all with try bonus points, since the advent of the South African franchises. Indeed, victories in South Africa have been as rare as hen's teeth - this was Leinster's first - and let us not forget the Stormers are the reigning URC champions.

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Government will pay a heavy price for housing failures

by Frank Schnittger Wed Apr 12th, 2023 at 11:05:32 AM EST

Irish Independent

Government will pay a heavy price for housing failures

As a recent poll showed, Fine Gael lost the room when it ended the eviction ban. In fact, it lost the whole house. It bet the mortgage on private landlords re-entering the market if the eviction ban was lifted.

In reality, private landlords can't exit the market quickly enough when the opportunity comes. There is more money to be made in short-term lets through Airbnb or selling into the swollen property market.

The Government has a fundamental responsibility to provide the public with basic social welfare, healthcare and housing services. Instead, it has abandoned its responsibilities in favour of the private market. That market is fundamentally about maximising returns on investment.

The more scarcity, the better, as prices then rise even more. The market is not there to provide for those who cannot afford to pay those prices. The greater the homelessness, the greater the desperation of those seeking accommodation at any price.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has just drafted a private briefing note for clients advising them to sell their assets prior to the advent of Sinn Féin in Government. The current Government has just made that advice all the more urgent for private landlords.

No amount of hand-wringing will change the reality of what Fine Gael has unleashed upon the people who relied on them most. There is no substitute for actually building more houses. The housing market has been in crisis for many years and yet this Government has been incapable of responding to that crisis.

The interests of existing property owners have been prioritised over the homeless. This is in stark contrast to the national mobilisation achieved in response to the pandemic, when the interests of those most at risk were prioritised over those least likely to suffer severe consequences.

There will be a heavy political price to pay for all of this. The public expects the Government to act for the greater good of the greater number, and it has been let down.

The time for excuses for lack of leadership and delivery on the public housing issue is long gone. The Government must now deliver, or else.

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