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Fine Gael-Labour Government Worsened Housing Crisis through terms of sale of State Assets to Vulture Funds

August 26, 2017 1 comment

Read two Articles from The Business Section of Sunday Business Post, Aug 13, 2017 below

Both Articles speak of huge “mistakes” by government. The Government actions were indeed the wrong thing to do. But it is clear that they were deliberate

When FG-Lab authorised the sale of very many building sites to Vultures, they made no stipulation that houses should be built urgently or indeed at any time. -Paddy Healy

Ian Kehoe, Researcher for RTE Programme “The Great Irish Sell-Off”   SBP   Aug 13

“They(Vultures) are not developers. They are masters of speculative capital. They buy cheap, sweat the assets and move on to the next  distressed market. At the moment, the demand for houses is pushing up the value of their asset. So they are profiting from standing idly by.

NAMA Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, admitted as much in recent months when he linked the low level of residential development on sites sold by his agency to land hoarding.

McDonagh was asked at the Oireachtas Finance Committee if NAMA should have imposed stipulations on the buyers of portfolios requiring them to develop sites within a specific period.

He argued that this would have led to a discount on the price being achieved .”

It’s Time To Admit We Made Huge Mistakes With Vulture Funds

In the dying months of his tenure as finance minister, Michael Noonan was repeatedly questioned about the arrival of vulture funds in Ireland.

There was context to the questioning -90,000 mortgages and tens of billions of Euro in distressed property debts and business loans had been acquired by a handful of hedge funds and private equity giants at knock-down prices and most of the funds were unregulated and largely untaxed.

Noonan’s Policies, implemented by NAMA and IBRC , lit a fire that was without international comparison

Noonans replies to questioning missed the point.

The wholesale acquisition of debt by vulture funds will have generational consequences here, and it is only right to have a public debate about it.

I have long believed that the sell-off was too quick, too large and that Ireland was unprepared.

First, we saw the fact that many of the buyers of mortgages were unregulated and outside the scope of the Central Bank. Many have signed up to a code of conduct, while intermediaries are now regulated. The owners of the mortgages (vultures), however, remain unregulated

Second we saw it in the case of Tyrellstown, whereby a deal between a developer of an estate and Goldman Sachs resulted in eviction letters sent to 40 tenants. This exposed Irelands lack of rent security.

We have also seen it in terms of tax. As our RTE Programme “The Great Irish Sell-Off” revealed, 25 subsidiaries of vulture funds paid less than 18,000 euro in tax on assets of 20 billion Euro, with an estimated loss to the exchequer of 700 million euro.

There is another point here and it needs to be examined. Ireland’s Housing Calamity

Is affecting mobility, demography and the economy. We simply do not have enough houses. And, somehow, most of the prime development land is held by funds who do not build. These funds are not builders.

They are not developers. They are masters of speculative capital. They buy cheap, sweat the assets and move on to the next  distressed market. At the moment, the demand for houses is pushing up the value of their asset. So they are profiting from standing idly by.

NAMA Chief Executive, Brendan McDonagh, admitted as much in recent months when he linked the low level of residential development on sites sold by his agency to land hoarding.

McDonagh was asked at the Oireachtas Finance Committee if NAMA should have imposed stipulations on the buyers of portfolios requiring them to develop sites within a specific period.

He argued that this would have led to a discount on the price being achieved.

He is right about that.  But if NAMA had done it, Ireland might have a pipeline of houses that could help the homeless. Decisions have consequences. Decisions must be debated

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Massive Increase in Repossessions by Vulture Funds

Huge Mistakes With Vulture Funds-SBP Aug 13

Jack-Horgan Jones

How many times have the “vultures”resorted to the courts, looking to secure a judgement over a debtor?  There has been a very real explosion in this figure.  According to figures compiled by SBP, the share of the summary judgement application market accounted for by vulture fund activities has almost trebled. Last year they accounted for 10% of the total. This year that has rocketed to 27.4%.

The most aggressive funds, it seems, are those who have bought the largest debt. Most active are Goldman Sachs and CarVal, who between them have purchased billions of non-performing Irish debt. Goldman subsidiaries accounted for 105 actions since January 2016. CarVal far eclipses that at 183. Cabot accounts for125 actions in 2016 alone.

What is Driving this?

Colm Lyons is a British Barrister, Specialising in Transfer of Debt. He is not surprised by the increase in cases. He says: “what you are seeing is a pretty significant increase in the number of summary judgements being made. That is entirely to be expected because the word is that the vulture funds in Ireland are trying to get out and without losses. When a judgement is secured the funds can assign that judgement and the debt to someone else for a fee. It tidies up messy battles, and ease their passage out of Ireland.”

What jumps out a Lyons is the scale of the issue in Ireland. And how that might have knock-on affects for debtors.

He continues: “I’ve never seen a situation where an economy has been dictated by vulture funds. You had a government that didn’t that did not know what it was doing, went into a bank bail-out and bankrupted the country, and then it had to recover the situation. The only way that was ever going to happen was  a tripartite deal with banks and vulture funds

The root of this is a Faustian Pact (Deal with the Devil) made by the Enda Kenny government with funds. Faced with the consequences of the Cowen Governments stewardship, they jumped at the chance to offload debt to the funds via NAMA.”

The fallout, as funds crunch their way through the toxic debt they have bought, is being managed through the apparatus of the state-namely the courts and the receivership system.

Lyons continued: “If that’s going to happen, then the courts  become an arm of economic policy rather than independently determining the facts of any given case.

There did not seem to be an understanding of the legal, economic, social and political cnsequences of doing that.”

From a macro perspective, this is what is driving the rise in cases and a similar trend in receiverships.

Paul O’Grady, an Irish Barrister who represents debtors, shares the view that the funds are in a rush to the door. He says: “the vulture funds  have more than achieved their targeted returns in respect of the loan portfolios they bought. They have therefore put a deadline on the completion of their activities in Ireland, and are seeking to recover as much money as possible in as short a remaining time as possible”

 

 

 

(further from Paddy Healys Blog:  LABOUR-FINE GAEL FED THE VULTURES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE HOMELESS)

Purchasers of Irish Residential Property (including Vultures) will pay NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX if they retain the property for 5 years -Finance Bill Debate in Dail Nov 23 2016

(This applies EVEN IF IT IS EMPTY FOR THE 5 YEARS)

http://www.independent.ie/business/commercial-property/finance-bill-fuels-debate-on-commercial-real-estate-35257323.html

Page 92  Dail Report  November 23, 2016

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20authoring/debateswebpack.nsf/takes/dail2016112300092?opendocument

 

Deputy Paul Murphy:   I move amendment No. 89:

In page 67, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“25. The Minister for Finance is to report to the Dáil within six months of the enactment of this Act on the projected cost of property-related exemptions from Capital Gains Tax, including the Capital Gains Tax exemption for properties bought between 7 December 2011 and the end of 2014 and held for seven years and the new exemption introduced for IREFs holding property for 5 years introduced under this Act.”.

I will be very brief. This kind of issue has been debated a lot tonight. The amendment is asking for a report to the Dáil on the projected cost of property related exemptions from CGT, including the CGT exemption for properties bought between 7 December 2011 and the end of 2014 and held for seven years and the new exemption introduced in this Bill for IREFs holding property for five years. We believe there is a substantial amount of tax being legally avoided in this manner and will continue to be under the new proposals. That tax is overwhelmingly avoided by much better-off sections of our population. We want to see what the figures are and how much money is involved.

Deputy Michael Noonan:   A capital gains tax relief on disposals of land or buildings acquired in the period commencing on 7 December 2011 and ending on 31 December 2013 was announced in budget 2013 and in section 64 of the Finance Act 2012. Section 44 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2013 extended the period within which the land or buildings may be acquired for the purposes of this relief to 31 December 2014. If the property is held for the full seven years, the land or buildings will qualify for the full relief. Partial relief is available if the property is held for longer than seven years.`

I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the impact of the capital gains tax relief granted in respect of land and buildings, including commercial property, introduced in budget 2012 and extended in budget 2014. I am further advised by Revenue that, in view of the fact that the nature of the relief is time related and requires a minimum ownership period of seven years, which ownership period could not commence earlier than 7 December 2011, it will not be in a position to offer initial soundly based costings until the returns for the tax year of 2018 have been processed. More detailed costings would follow on from the processing of tax returns from 2019 onwards. There is therefore no basis at present on which to prepare a report on the cost of this relief.

With regard to Irish real estate funds, IREFs, the proposal ensures that any rental income or development profits earned by the IREF will be included in the calculation of the IREF’s profits. Capital gains will also be included in the calculation of profits unless the asset is held for five years or more. The exemption from capital gains has been legislated for to encourage sustainable investment focused on the long-term holding and management of income-producing rental property. This will, in the longer term, lead to a more sustainable and secure property market for both investors and property tenants while generating regular and reliable tax revenues for the Exchequer from the taxation of the rental profits. Although any gain may be exempt where the property is held for more than five years, tax will still be payable on the rental income that is being generated. It should be noted that this exemption reflects the current position regarding capital gains tax, CGT, and funds and does not reduce the current tax burden on funds. Therefore, it does not give rise to an additional cost.

To ensure, however, that the IREFs cannot be used for tax planning, as I have noted, I am proposing a Report Stage amendment which removes from section 22 the ability of an investor who has influence or control over the IREF to receive a distribution of capital gains without the operation of the new 20% withholding tax. This proposed IREF is not a tax incentive for people investing in commercial property. All rental income and development profits earned by the IREF will be included in the calculation of the IREF’s profits. Where an IREF makes a distribution of these profits, non-resident investors will be subject to a withholding tax of 20%. The proposal has been drafted in a balanced way to ensure the Irish tax base is protected where Irish property transactions are taking place within collective investment vehicles while not damaging the commercial property market in the long term. The IREF provisions apply to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2017. Therefore, as the Revenue Commissioners will not receive accounts for these funds until mid-2018, it would not be practicable to prepare the report in the timeframe requested. I cannot accept the proposed amendment. Of course, when the data are available, it will obviously be reported on and the kind of information the Deputy has requested will be provided in due course.

Categories: Uncategorized

BREXIT: All Ireland Sovereignty More Necessary Than Ever Now!

August 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Why are Taoiseach Varadkar, Irish EU Commissioner Phil Hogan(FG)  and Tommy Gorman of RTE Hiding the Crucial Difference between The absence of a hard border in the New British Tariff Proposals and the Backstop Provisions in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement?

https://wp.me/pKzXa-Vu

The difference is That The UK can withdraw from any aspect of its own tariff proposals at any time without the agreement of Ireland or the EU without breaking any treaty or legally binding international agreement.

The British tariff proposals show clearly why the establishment of 32 county Irish Unity and sovereignty is more essential than ever to protect the interests of the Irish People north and south.

Hyping up the danger of smuggling is just a diversion.

On Virgin Media News at 8 ,Varadkar has just clearly implied that the provisions for Northern Ireland in the New British Post Brexit Tariff proposals is the same as the backstop in the Withdrawal agreement. Why does he continue to hide the crucial difference?

————————————————————–Matthew Parris, London Times Columnist and Former Tory MP, Provides an Almost Identical Analysis to Mine on Sean O’Rourke

Could May Ultimately Win With The Backing of British Big Business https://wp.me/pKzXa-Vu

I believe the forward process is well planned by British big business in alliance with May. If May had wished to force through her motion this evening, she would have threatened her own MPs with a general election if her motion were defeated. Neither did she resign in the wake of the heaviest Commons defeat in history. It was too early! She will win the vote of confidence tomorrow. Aterwards She will stay talking to opposition leaders, her own MPS including hard Brexiteers , EU leaders etc etc etc. in the coming weeks. Ultimately she will come back to parliament very near the March deadline. She will put Tory MPs in the following position: Either they support the deal they voted against this evening with cosmetic changes OR they agree to delay the exit using Article 50 using the leeway already provided by EU OR they can have a crash out Brexit and a General election AT THE SAME TIME in the middle of the chaos! The hard line Brexiteers had no hard choice to make tonight-but 3 days before the crash-out????

———————————————————–Discussion-United Ireland Must Be Independent and Sovereign

Before 1921 Ireland Was United Within the Union With Britain. But it wasn’t INDEPENDENT!!!

Could Ireland Become United within the EU after Brexit but not INDEPENDENT or SOVEREIGN?

Note that Europe Will Soon have Its Own Army which Could enforce its wishes even on Members of the Proposed European Federation

I carry Here 2 relevant articles from Sunday Business Post April 1, 2018 Articles

1)Interview With Mary Lou McDonald, President of Sinn Féin

“There have been suggestions that instead of having one parliament in a future United Ireland, the Stormont Assembly would be left in place to run the North – while the Dáil would continue to have jurisdiction over the South.

McDonald says that this is something she will not rule out at a time when the prospect of a United Ireland is coming on the table as a real conversation.”

2) UNITED IRELAND (UNDER EU FISCAL TREATY?)  DRAWING NEARER ???

Kevin Meagher   SB POST   APRIL 1 ,2018

UNIONISTS BEWARE: MAY WILL PUT BRITAIN FIRST

“No, we are entering the endgame where realpolitik will trump abstract symbolism. And the narrow interests of the DUP will be sold out faster than half-price iPods in the Argos sale.”

Kevin Meagher was special adviser to former Labour Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward. He is author of A United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About

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Interview With Mary Lou McDonald, President of Sinn Féin

“There have been suggestions that instead of having one parliament in a future United Ireland, the Stormont Assembly would be left in place to run the North – while the Dáil would continue to have jurisdiction over the South.

McDonald says that this is something she will not rule out at a time when the prospect of a United Ireland is coming on the table as a real conversation.”

Reaching out to unionists

In her opening address as the new president of Sinn Féin, McDonald pledged to reach out to the unionist community. That was something that Martin McGuinness did by shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth II. Nelson Mandela acted similarly by greeting the South African rugby team – the ultimate symbol of Afrikaner culture – on the pitch before they beat the All Blacks to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

So would McDonald be prepared to march in an Orange Order parade to show that she was willing to accept a key part of unionist culture?

“I’m not sure they would want me on one of their marches,” she says. But she goes on to say that she does want to meet officially with the Orange Order.

“I think for Sinn Féin to officially meet with the Orange Order – what harm can it do? I think these discussions and these dialogues at a minimum achieve the very positive thing of people showing the respect to each other of sitting down with each other,” she says.

But while McDonald says she feels liberated as a new leader to make “big gestures” to unionists, her use of the IRA’s ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’ slogan on becoming party leader last February did not help her case. Her repeated warnings – most recently in a speech at Queen’s University Belfast last week – that unionists are going to be outnumbered by nationalists could further alienate them.

McDonald says she has raised the demographic trends many times because it is a “fact”.

“It’s an electoral fact that the unionist vote dipped beneath the 50 per cent margin both at the last Westminster and the last Assembly election. The reason that’s significant is that the Northern state is constructed on the notion of an inbuilt unionist majority – but they never thought it would get that tight,” she says.

McDonald says she does not want to be seen as “lecturing unionism”, but adds that they have to start “thinking for themselves”.

“My option is Irish unity, but we don’t live in that reality. For almost a century, we’ve had a partitioned Ireland. We’ve had to come up with Plans B ,C, D, E and F, even if they weren’t always very good plans. I think it’s necessary for unionism to start thinking that way,” she says.

There have been suggestions that instead of having one parliament in a future United Ireland, the Stormont Assembly would be left in place to run the North – while the Dáil would continue to have jurisdiction over the South.

McDonald says that this is something she will not rule out at a time when the prospect of a United Ireland is coming on the table as a real conversation.

“It’s at a point now where people can intervene and say: ‘Hang on a minute, this is what we think, or let’s consider this.’ I think all of those ideas – I’m not going to discount or rule out anything because that is not the way you have an open or respectful conversation with people,” she says

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UNITED IRELAND (UNDER EU FISCAL TREATY?)  DRAWING NEARER ???

Kevin Meagher   SB POST   APRIL 1 ,2018

UNIONISTS BEWARE: MAY WILL PUT BRITAIN FIRST

“No, we are entering the endgame where realpolitik will trump abstract symbolism. And the narrow interests of the DUP will be sold out faster than half-price iPods in the Argos sale.”

Kevin Meagher was special adviser to former Labour Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward. He is author of A United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About

Unionists beware: May will put Britain first

Realpolitik will eventually give us a wet border – in the Irish Sea – and if that makes unionists feel less British, they’ll have no option but to put up with it

By Kevin MeagherApr 1, 2018

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One size fits all is generally the way in which sovereign nation states go about their business. But the United Kingdom is not an arrangement of equals. Britain’s unwritten constitution and tradition of muddling through – with a combination of ambiguity and asymmetry – has become a defining aspect of our political culture.

Scotland, for instance, has its own parliament, but Wales only gets an assembly. As for the North, well, it’s anomalous in all sorts of ways.

Just last week, Labour MP Conor McGinn introduced legislation to permit same sex marriage in the North – now the only part of these islands without such a provision.

Similarly, it’s been the DUP pushing to lower the North’s corporation tax rate, dropping Britain’s 18 per cent rate to match the 12.5 per cent found in the South. “Lord make me equal,” to paraphrase St Augustine, “but not yet.”

When it comes to finally reconciling the question of post-Brexit border arrangements on the island of Ireland, a bespoke solution – ‘special status’ – for the North is the obvious move.

It’s a decision that cries out to be made so we can nail down the all-important question of Britain’s future trading relationship with the EU.

For the moment, British ministers cling to the fiction they can split the difference with some technical wizardry that affords two customs arrangements, but doesn’t result in checkpoints and watchtowers and other ‘infrastructure’ to police the demarcation. They have been sold a con, or are trying to palm us off with one.

Not just my view, you understand, but that of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee. In a report published last week, MPs made clear there was “no evidence to suggest that there is currently a technical solution that would avoid infrastructure at the border”. All the more damning for ministers given the committee is dominated by unionists and Tories.

Whitehall’s fundamental mistake was assuming the border question was the easy bit. So much so, that British prime minister Theresa May simply glanced over it in her Lancaster House speech in January 2017 setting out her approach to implementing Brexit, saying: “Nobody wants to return to the borders of the past, so we will make it a priority to deliver a practical solution as soon as we can.”

We are still waiting.

The assumption – casually made – was that the Irish would simply “get with the programme”. Even now, there is a focus on the trade and tariff arrangements without any appreciation of the security and symbolism of a hard border and the damage this potentially does to the Good Friday Agreement settlement.

It is part of a wider pattern of ill-preparedness that has dogged the British approach since triggering Article 50. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, is an open and honest man, even if, like most arch-Brexiteers, he remains a self-indulgent romantic nationalist.

His cavalier admission last December that ministers have not commissioned economic impact assessments about Brexit serves as a perfect illustration of the point.

But time is fast running out and the British government needs to get real. Although Theresa May is reliant on Arlene Foster to augment her lack of an overall majority in the House of Commons, the prime minister must recognise she cannot have the unionist tail wagging the British dog.

For unionists, the issues at stake are purely symbolic. As they see it, remaining in the customs union and even the single market makes them less British and more obviously Irish. Too bad.

May must not accommodate their rarefied sensibilities at the expense of the wider national interest. The North accounts for only 3 per cent of the UK’s population and just 1.5 per cent of its GDP. As on so many issues these days, unionists simply don’t have the right numbers to dictate terms.

When the unicorn option of a digital border is finally ruled out, it will dawn on unionists that their Conservative allies have now agreed to implement the European Commission’s ‘backstop’ option of keeping the North in the customs union and single market and effectively redrawing the border in the Irish Sea. (Not so much a hard border as a wet one.)

They will huff and puff in their inevitable style, but the DUP are in no hurry to bring down the Tories and risk putting Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10. If Theresa May is trapped by bad options, so is Arlene Foster.

The risk of no deal on the border and a hard Brexit, with all the uncertainty it would engender, is economically ruinous for Britain. Not just that, but there is no way the prime minister can sell that sort of outcome to her own party, let alone the country.

Not when a recent poll for radio station LBC found that more than two-thirds of Brexit voters thought leaving the EU was more important than keeping the North in the UK.

No, we are entering the endgame where realpolitik will trump abstract symbolism. And the narrow interests of the DUP will be sold out faster than half-price iPods in the Argos sale.

Kevin Meagher was special adviser to former Labour Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward. He is author of A United Ireland: Why Unification is Inevitable and How it Will Come About

 

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“To put it crudely, the British army isn’t big enough and the Europeans don’t have an army, so there isn’t a problem. There is not going to be a border in Ireland.”

Denis Bradley-Irish Times October 9

“Any Irish government who tried that on (policing the border) would last about a month in power.”

BUT. . . . .

Open border ‘impossible’ from customs perspective-Report by Revenue Commissioners Irish Examiner, Monday, October 09, 2017

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Denis Bradley-There is not going to be a border in Ireland-Irish Times

Twenty or so years ago the Irish Border disappeared. The old customs posts had long disappeared and then, one day, the British army lifted its gear and went home. Most of the people felt a burden lift off their shoulders – a people who had lived in the shadow of its presence were, for the first time, free of the inconvenience and the scar on the landscape.

Since then they have lived with that freedom, and they have judged it to be right and good, and they have no intention of giving it up.

To put it crudely, the British army isn’t big enough and the Europeans don’t have an army, so there isn’t a problem. There is not going to be a border in Ireland.

The silliest talk of all is about the Irish Government having to police a border in Ireland. It is reported that the Irish revenue and customs people were up looking around them a few months back, identifying possible customs posts. Were they out of their tiny minds? The Irish Government policing a border ever again in this part of Ireland is as big an oxymoron as the Border itself. Any Irish government who tried that on would last about a month in power.


Open border ‘impossible’ from customs perspective-Report by Revenue Commissioners Irish Examiner, Monday, October 09, 2017

By Daniel McConnell

An open border between the North and the Republic will be impossible from a customs perspective once Brexit occurs, the Revenue Commissioners have stated.

An internal report on the likely impacts of Brexit found that every day 13,000 commercial vehicles cross the border. The report found a completely open border is not possible from a customs perspective, and it would be naive to believe a unique arrangement can be found.

It concluded that Ireland’s customs infrastructure would be overwhelmed by a huge increase in volume of work because of Brexit and the impact on the border.

“Once negotiations are completed… the UK will become a third country for customs purposes and the associated formalities will become unavoidable. While this will affect all member states, the effect will be more profound on Ireland as the only EU country to have a land border with the UK,” it states.

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The news follows an Irish Examiner report which revealed Revenue officials had begun scouting potential checkpoints near the border, but such work was put off given the political backlash.

The report, leaked to RTÉ, states that a year before Brexit, Revenue began exploring the potential impact on the customs interface between Ireland and the UK. It found that at present, 91,000 Irish companies trade with the UK.

Once Brexit occurs, their customs declarations will mean an 800% increase in volume. According to the report, that will mean special permits, extra investment, more paperwork, and potential delays.

Contrary to statements from the Irish and UK governments that there should be no physical border, Revenue warns that ports and airports will need extra infrastructure, such as temporary storage facilities for customs clearance. Small regional airports will need customs infrastructure because of Brexit. Revenue itself will need a big increase in staffing levels, the report states. For traders, the report says, the administrative and fiscal burden cannot be underestimated.

It is understood that the Revenue report into the implications of Brexit was updated several times after the referendum and has remained an aide-memoire as officials come to terms with the potential effects.

The report spells out the options governing Norway and Switzerland’s trading relationship with the EU, and the free trade agreement with Canada. “At some point a similar arrangement between the EU and UK is conceivable,” the report says.

 

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“But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances”

Fergus Finlay, Former Assistant to Dick Spring, Irish Examiner 12/09/2017

“So, does that mean tiochfaidh ár lá? I don’t know, and it’s not from that perspective I’m saying it. But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances. A border between Britain and the EU can only be achieved by Britain leaving Ireland”

Paddy Healy: What Must Be Done –Blog Aug 16, 2017

Because of this sharpness given to the National Question by the proposed Brexit, I believe that all Socialists , Republicans and Nationalists including Sinn Féin should tell The British Government, the EU and the 26 Co government that no new restrictions on the movement of people or goods across the current border will be tolerated. Any such proposals will be met by united mass marches in towns on both sides of the border

These marches should culminate in 2 protests of an All-Ireland character-the first in Belfast and  the second in Dublin.

FERGUS FINLAY: Is Britain bordering on conceding that it will leave Northern Ireland?Irish Examiner, September 12, 2017

Fergus Finlay

The only logical solution… is for Britain to declare that it will withdraw from the North, writes Fergus Finlay.

IT WAS a wise Irish civil servant who told me once, years ago, that the time to be afraid of British negotiators was when they offered a flurry of ideas. “Read them,” he said, “and you’ll notice one thing. They’re trying to trap you into discussing points of detail, so you end up ignoring the fundamentals.” His remark was made in the context of Anglo-Irish negotiations about the Northern Ireland peace process, but it applies just as much to Britain’s position in the Brexit negotiations, at least where Ireland is concerned. Their negotiating stance is based on an age-old truism — get them haggling about price, and they’ll forget the point of principle.

The good news is that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and his team, saw the Brits coming. In a really astute report from Brussels the other night, RTÉ’s correspondent, Tony Connelly, pointed out that the Brits had published a 27-page paper full of technical suggestions about how you could have a border in Ireland, but that it wouldn’t really be a hard border. The EU had responded with a much shorter paper, refusing to engage with the technical stuff and pointing out that Britain had entirely ignored the fundamental issue of principle.

The principle is simple. After Brexit, any border in Ireland is a border between Britain and the EU. That border affects how people and goods come into and out of the EU. If Britain leave the EU and the customs union, then Britain, and by extension Northern Ireland, are on the other side of the border. Full stop.

 

But a border between Britain and the EU also, as a matter of law, becomes a border on the island of Ireland. The potential for damage of the re-emergence of a hard border on this island is huge. Even the British acknowledge that.

There’s no need to spell out the extent, and kind, of damage it could do. We’ve spent more than 20 years since the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement — which took violence from the conflict, but didn’t end it — trying to build a political process that could sustain itself and change hearts and minds. We know how fragile and faltering that is. The idea that you would re-insert a physical border into that equation is simply mind-boggling.

But Britain voted to leave Europe because it wants borders. It wants to control the movement of people. The largest single factor in the vote to leave was the fear of immigration. Controlling the movement of people is synonymous in the minds of Brexiteers with the language of regaining control of Britain’s destiny.

That’s why the British paper, which pretends that you can have a hard Brexit without hard borders, reminds me so much of the “angel papers” they used to produce during the Anglo-Irish negotiations.

They were called angel papers, and it was a British term, because they had no official standing. A paper could be produced full of the kind of language in which an agreement could be framed. But it would be presented as “random thoughts” or “musings”. If you didn’t like them, no harm done. If the British officials regretted offering them, or found they couldn’t sell them to their own political masters, they simply disappeared (I suppose, as an angel does, when his or her job is done).

But if you engaged with the stuff, you were trapped. What might be a flimsy idea on a bit of paper and have no standing could suddenly become something to beat you over the head with, if you gave it credibility.

The much wiser course was simply not to go there at all, until basic principles were agreed.

That, clearly, is what the EU has decided to do. They can see the impossibility, in principle as well as in practice, of agreeing to the re-imposition of a border on the island of Ireland. They know that if they agree to some technical tricks that make it look like something to which there is a “practical solution”, the issue of whether or not it is the right thing to do will become irretrievably muddied.

Sooner or later, in these negotiations, someone is going to mention the unmentionable. The British have decided to leave the EU. They’re pretending they can do so without creating a new border between them and the EU, and that that border will have to be situated in their neighbouring island.

 

That won’t work, and it can’t work. What needs to be said — and I’m surprised to hear myself saying this — is that in deciding to leave the EU, Britain has effectively decided that it is not possible to sustain the union between Northern Ireland and what it likes to call the mainland.

In short, the only logical solution to the issue of borders is for Britain to declare that it will, over time, withdraw from Northern Ireland. That, and that alone, would enable Britain to locate its border with the EU wherever it wants to, without doing untold damage to its nearest neighbour. Of course, the Brits may not be too worried about damaging Ireland, but it’s clear that the EU won’t allow them to undermine years of painstaking work on peace and political progress by playing jiggery-pokery with a border.

So, does that mean tiochfaidh ár lá? I don’t know, and it’s not from that perspective I’m saying it. But the only possible way for us to protect the interests of the people of this entire island is by declaring that there will be no border on the island, not under any circumstances. A border between Britain and the EU can only be achieved by Britain leaving Ireland.

That will certainly take years to work out , and would be an expensive operation, for both Britain and the EU. Britain is looking for a transition period anyway, in relation to customs arrangements. Part of that transition needs to be provision for full withdrawal.

The entire peace process was made possible, and is built on, the principle of consent. The principle of consent means that you honour the views that people express democratically.

The people of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. While the principle of consent was not conceived to apply to that circumstance, it is, nevertheless, the case that taking the people of Northern Ireland out of the EU, and rebuilding a border on the island of Ireland, flies in the face of any understanding of the notion of consent.

I think it comes down to this. We cannot allow a border to be built again on this island, for a myriad of reasons. Europe cannot be protected without one, but doesn’t want one, either.

Britain cannot have its cake and eat it. They must put their border elsewhere, and they must propose and facilitate whatever it takes to enable both parts of this island to remain within the EU.

In voting for Brexit, they effectively voted to leave Ireland. There is no other way forward.

 

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Ireland needs to reject the fantasy of no hard Border After Brexit-Stephen Collins, Irish Times

(The conclusions of Stephen Collins are politically right wing and against the interests of the Irish People. But his delineation of the issues is correct. Fantasies being propagated by the London and Dublin governments are correctly debunked.)

Full Article

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ireland-needs-to-reject-the-fantasy-of-no-hard-border-1.3188634?mode=print&ot=example.AjaxPageLayout.ot

Stephen Collins,Irish Times Thursday, August 17, 2017, 05:00

Irish politicians need to get over the fantasy that the return of a land Border on this island can somehow be avoided after Brexit

The soft words in the two position papers published by the British government this week are all very fine but they simply represent an opening negotiation position most unlikely to stand the test of serious negotiation.

The British papers appear to be a more sophisticated version of Boris Johnson’s initial response to the EU referendum result when he insisted that the UK could have its cake and eat it.

The persistent demands of a range of Irish politicians that there be no return of the Border in any circumstances are every bit as delusional as Johnson’s dream of having all the benefits of EU membership at no cost after leaving.

The cold reality still does not seem to have impinged on a range of Irish politicians, from the Taoiseach down . . . . Irish Times Aug 17

 

What Must Be Done

Because of this sharpness given to the National Question by the proposed Brexit, I believe that all socialists and Republicans including Sinn Féin should tell The British Government, the EU and the 26 Co government that no new restrictions on the movement of people or goods across the current border will be tolerated. Any such proposals will be met by united mass marches in towns on both sides of the border

The extent of the pressure on Fine Gael from Border communities is reflected in this statement by Joe McHugh, FG TD for Donegal and Government Chief Whip  ———-             Border Type

Mr McHugh said the EU needed to be reminded constantly of its responsibilities around the peace process, and warned any type of Border beyond the existing arrangement, “hard or soft, manual or electronic”, would be a retrograde step.” Irish Times
Even Fine Gael supporters are very exercised on the issue.. The Fine Gael Supporters in the area are advising Veradkar and Coveney that they cannot have their fingerprints on any such provision. (That,of course, does not mean that they will not capitulate to it-but it cannot be done with their formal agreement)
Governments are concerned about the possibility that the sort of campaign of mass demonstrations which I advocate may happen, even spontaneously.
But they are also concerned that it may give rise to a new miitary campsaign outside the control of Sinn Féin

British Daily Telegraph Heading!

Britain is fighting to save Ireland from an EU-imposed hard border

Would you believe it?-Paddy Healy

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/16/britain-fighting-save-ireland-eu-imposed-hard-border/

Once Britain leaves the European Union, the only land border it will have with the bloc will be the 310-mile open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Brussels would not be able to accept people crossing into (and out of) newly non-EU territory without being policed, so can they be satisfied while keeping travel flowing?

The British acknowledge that both sides will need to “show flexibility and imagination” in order to avoid “a return to the border posts of the past”. They have started the ball rolling by laying out how they want to resolve it in a new paper (something the Europeans have yet to do). Britain envisages an “invisible” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland without “any physical border infrastructure” and “light touch” technology handling any checks. The EU claims that it too wants to avoid a hard border, but it is only possible due to the bloc’s…—Daily Telegraph Aug 16, 2017

British Daily Telegraph Heading!

Britain is fighting to save Ireland from an EU-imposed hard border!!!

Would you believe it?-Paddy Healy

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/16/britain-fighting-save-ireland-eu-imposed-hard-border/

Once Britain leaves the European Union, the only land border it will have with the bloc will be the 310-mile open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Brussels would not be able to accept people crossing into (and out of) newly non-EU territory without being policed, so can they be satisfied while keeping travel flowing?

The British acknowledge that both sides will need to “show flexibility and imagination” in order to avoid “a return to the border posts of the past”. They have started the ball rolling by laying out how they want to resolve it in a new paper (something the Europeans have yet to do). Britain envisages an “invisible” border between Ireland and Northern Ireland without “any physical border infrastructure” and “light touch” technology handling any checks. The EU claims that it too wants to avoid a hard border, but it is only possible due to the bloc’s…—Daily Telegraph Aug 16, 2017

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