UK government negotiations disrupt Brexit talks on Ireland

PAUL MCERLANE

An aerial view of the British Army watchtower post 'Golf One Zero' at Preeve Keernan in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, Monday 01 August, 2005. The Northern Ireland-based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment are to be disbanded as part of the Army response to the IRA ending its armed campaign.

UK government negotiations disrupt Brexit talks on Ireland


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It is becoming clear that negotiations between the Democratic Unionist Party and the Conservatives in the UK are disrupting Brexit negotiations, the Irish press reports.

29 of June and the clock is ticking

The Irish Sinn Fein MP, Conor Murphy, who made clear on Thursday that the deadline for the formation of a unity government in Northern Ireland is likely to be missed. That deadline is June 29, next Tuesday.

“The reality is the British government are going through the motions here while their game is their own preservation of their own interests in London,” Murphy said, adding that time is “fast-running out.”

The single objective all political parties agree on in Ireland, north and south, is a consensus over not having a border. Getting to that “seamless border” that allows for freedom of movement for people – if not goods and capital – will require a unity government in Belfast to engage as a stakeholder in Brussels.

Powersharing entails the cooperation of the Republican Sinn Fein and the Unionist DUP.

The previous unity government collapsed in March, mostly over an economic scandal embroiling the ruling DUP (renewable heat scandal). Sinn Fein left the unity government with the late Martin McGuinness leading the Republicans in his last electoral campaign. Returning with a stronger electoral mandate, Sinn Fein presenting a list of demands linked to what Republicans consider upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, including an inquest in past killings of political activists –

Returning with a stronger electoral mandate, Sinn Fein presenting a list of demands linked to what Republicans consider upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, including an inquest in past killings of political activists – so called “legacy issue” – and an Irish Language Act.

But, now Sinn Fein will also want to see the details of the political agreement between a Conservative government and the DUP before they form a new government. That negotiation has been draggin for 11 days.

Meanwhile, the representative of the DUP in Northern Ireland, Simon Hamilton, suggested that it is possible for the unionists to “multitask,” and there can be an agreement by Tuesday irrespectively of negotiations in London. These parallel negotiations are a non-starter for the Republicans.

Brexit Complications

The delay in resuming a Northern Executive means that Brexit negotiations on border issues cannot start, an Irish government source told the Irish Times.

Michel Barnier is now focusing on EU citizens’ rights and the UK financial settlement, leaving aside Ireland, which is said to be the third top priority in the sequential negotiations in Brussels. It is becoming clear that it is difficult to engage in a dialogue without a single stakeholder from Belfast, EU and Irish sources confirm.

On Thursday, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney expressed the conviction that the way forward is a special status for Northern Ireland, with an “invisible border” and an all-Ireland approach. However, he also warned that the absence of an executive in Belfast meant others would be making the case for Northern Ireland, which is not a satisfactory solution.

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