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Is May’s political survival more important than the Good Friday agreement? | Michelle O’Neill

The prime minister’s rightwing pact with the DUP and the increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit has left the people in the north of Ireland staring into an abyss

• Michelle O’Neill is leader of Sinn Féin in the Northern Ireland assembly

The failure to restore the power-sharing administration in Belfast is a direct consequence of the Tory-DUP deal to prop up Theresa May’s government. It is undermining the entire talks process and shattering any remaining pretence of British government impartiality.

Related: Westminster imposes budget on Northern Ireland

The DUP and the British government are clearly unprepared to grant basic civil and human rights to citizens in the north

Related: The Guardian view on Brexit and the Irish border: Britain’s shameful dereliction | Editorial

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Published on 21 November 2017 | 9:54 am


DUP hits out at Brussels and Dublin over Brexit 'blackmail'

Arlene Foster launches scathing attack on day that senior civil servants admit there are few plans for managing Irish border

The Democratic Unionist party has launched a scathing attack on Brussels and Dublin politicians accusing them of trying to use Northern Ireland to “blackmail” Brexit negotiators in London.

Arlene Foster, the party’s leader, issued a strongly worded statement on Monday night, three days after Ireland’s taoiseach warned that the country would block progress in Brexit talks unless the UK came up with proposals to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has been much more sceptical than the UK about the potential for avoiding border posts via virtual checks on importers. Whilst agreeing with British ministers and EU negotiators that it is inconceivable for there to be a return to a hard border with the north, Dublin argues that the best way for the UK to achieve this would be by permanently remaining in a customs union with the EU and seeking single market membership like Norway through the European Economic Area. The UK has conceded that some of this will be necessary in its interim phase after Brexit, but hopes clever technological solutions can allow it have looser economic links in the long run. Varadkar is not alone in being sceptical about whether such a cake-and-eat-it customs and trade strategy is viable.

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Published on 21 November 2017 | 12:13 am


'An absolute shambles': readers on the Irish border and Brexit

We asked citizens in the Irish republic and Northern Ireland how they felt the issue of a border can be rectified in Brexit talks

Ireland has said it will block progress of Brexit negotiations in December, unless the UK give a formal written guarantee there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland.

Related: The Guardian view on Brexit and the Irish border: Britain’s shameful dereliction | Editorial

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Published on 20 November 2017 | 11:16 am


It was John Hume, not Sinn Féin, who steered Northern Ireland to peace | Seamus Mallon

Sinn Féin and the DUP have squeezed the hope out of long-suffering people. They should remember Hume’s vision for partnership

A documentary film that premiered in Ireland at the weekend examines the role of the Nobel laureate and former SDLP leader John Hume in seeking to engage the United States in the Northern Ireland peace process.

I was very reluctant to see In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, and even more reluctant to write about it. My fears were based on previous films about Ireland, which reeked of sentimentality, “old sod” songs and stories, and the dreaded “shamrockery” associated with Ireland in the US. But here we see how skilled practitioners of the art of politics can clearly define their objectives and remain aloof from all distractions that would essentially weaken their resolve.

The Hume/Kennedy axis and an Irish government committed to peace and justice was a powerful team

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Published on 20 November 2017 | 9:30 am


The Guardian view on Brexit and the Irish border: Britain’s shameful dereliction | Editorial

From the referendum campaign onwards, Brexiters have ignored the dire implications for Ireland. The neglect is a political and moral failure alike

Throughout his career, Gerry Adams relentlessly singled out the British government for the blame in Ireland’s troubles. In truth, the responsibility for Northern Ireland’s miseries was widely shared, not least with the IRA and Sinn Féin, of which Mr Adams has been for so long the chief strategist. Yet it is ironic that the Sinn Féin leader announced his retirement from frontline politics at the weekend. For Mr Adams is stepping down at the very moment when a British government is unambiguously the sole cause of a massively hostile act against Ireland, north and south, in the form of a hard Brexit.

From start to finish, Conservative Brexiters have shown that they simply could not care less about Ireland. In the referendum campaign, few gave even a passing thought to the impact of a leave vote on the relationship between Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and the republic. When the vote went their way – though they lost in Northern Ireland – the Brexiters then gave bland assurances that the decision would make absolutely no difference to the island’s soft border, the legacy of the peace process, or north-south and east-west cooperation.

Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has been much more sceptical than the UK about the potential for avoiding border posts via virtual checks on importers. Whilst agreeing with British ministers and EU negotiators that it is inconceivable for there to be a return to a hard border with the north, Dublin argues that the best way for the UK to achieve this would be by permanently remaining in a customs union with the EU and seeking single market membership like Norway through the European Economic Area. The UK has conceded that some of this will be necessary in its interim phase after Brexit, but hopes clever technological solutions can allow it have looser economic links in the long run. Varadkar is not alone in being sceptical about whether such a cake-and-eat-it customs and trade strategy is viable.

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Published on 19 November 2017 | 7:14 pm


Search for new Sinn Féin leader begins after Gerry Adams steps down

Michelle O’Neill, Irish republican party’s leader in Northern Ireland assembly, rules herself out, saying she has ‘enough to do’

Sinn Féin is starting the process of selecting its new leader after Gerry Adams announced he was stepping down after 34 years in charge.

The Irish republican party’s leader in the deadlocked Northern Ireland assembly, Michelle O’Neill, has ruled herself out of the running to succeed Adams, who played a pivotal role in shifting the IRA to a permanent ceasefire in the 1990s and nudged Sinn Féin towards embracing power sharing with their former unionist enemies in Northern Ireland.

Related: It is time for Gerry Adams to go, but will his grip on Sinn Féin remain? | Malachi O’Doherty

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Published on 19 November 2017 | 7:13 pm


Ireland is caught between Brexiteers and Brussels | Letters

The Irish republic and Northern Ireland could pay a high price for the UK’s divorce from the EU, suggest letters from readers including the former Labour minister Jeff Rooker

Rafael Behr’s brilliant evisceration of the UK government’s shambolic handling of Brexit makes for depressing reading from the Dublin side of the Irish Sea (As Tories slug it out, does anyone care about Ireland?, 15 November). However, the suspicion remains here that the problem is not just with London but with Brussels too.

Brexit was initially met with anger by most Irish people but the upset receded as everyday life got in the way. Now it is back, and the island of Ireland is staring down the barrel of a hard border. These are glum and worrying times. Ireland is caught between undoubtedly ignorant rightwing Eurosceptic British politicians and the mammoth Brussels bureaucracy.

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Published on 19 November 2017 | 7:12 pm


It is time for Gerry Adams to go, but will his grip on Sinn Féin remain? | Malachi O’Doherty

We will see how transparent and democratic the party actually is as it seeks his replacement as president

The maxim that all political careers end in failure will not apply to Gerry Adams. He has managed his departure in such a way as to avert any demand from the party that he go.

No one in Sinn Féin was thought likely to step forward as a challenger; this is not a party that caters for the dissenting voice. One of the embarrassments of recent times has been the number of councillors resigning and claiming that they have been bullied by the party hierarchy.

Adams’s achievement may be to have shaped Sinn Féin in his image so firmly that his departure will make no difference

Related: Paralysis has gripped Northern Ireland. But politicians are just looking blithely on | Peter Hain

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Published on 19 November 2017 | 4:39 pm


Gerry Adams steps down as Sinn Féin president

Republican, 69, who was instrumental in IRA ceasefire, also says he will not seek re-election to the Irish parliament

Gerry Adams has announced he is stepping down as president of Sinn Féin after 34 years in charge of the party that was once closely linked to the IRA.

Adams also confirmed that he will not seek re-election to the Irish parliament, the Dáil, in the next general election.

Related: Gerry Adams: An Unauthorised Life by Malachi O’Doherty – review

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Published on 18 November 2017 | 10:10 pm


Ireland will block progress of Brexit talks without border guarantee

Prime minister Leo Varadkar wants formal promise of no hard border between Northern Ireland and Republic

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, issued a stark warning that the progress of the Brexit negotiations was at great risk of even further delay, during a day of stinging public rebukes for Theresa May as she met sceptical EU leaders at a Swedish summit.

The Irish taoiseach emerged from a frosty bilateral meeting with May at the European social summit and said: “I can’t say in any honesty that it’s close – on the Irish issue or on the financial settlement.”

A hard Brexit would take Britain out of the EU’s single market and customs union and ends its obligations to respect the four freedoms, make big EU budget payments and accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ: what Brexiters mean by “taking back control” of Britain’s borders, laws and money. It would mean a return of trade tariffs, depending on what (if any) FTA was agreed. See our full Brexit phrasebook.

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Published on 17 November 2017 | 7:41 pm


Gerry Adams to announce retirement as Sinn Féin president

Move means party will be led by generation without links to violence, but 69-year-old is still expected to wield influence

Gerry Adams will announce his plans to retire after 34 years as president of Sinn Féin on Saturday, marking a generational shift that will break the leadership’s last link with republican violence.

Adams will take to the stage of Dublin’s RDS conference hall to set out an exit that some analysts say will improve Sinn Féin’s electoral chances in the Irish Republic.

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Published on 17 November 2017 | 5:47 pm


Ireland threatens to block progress of Brexit talks over border issue

PM Leo Varadkar says UK must give written guarantee of no hard border with Northern Ireland before negotiations can move on

Ireland has issued a stark warning that it will block progress of the Brexit negotiations in December unless the UK gives a formal written guarantee that there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland.

In sharp remarks before a breakfast meeting with Theresa May, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said Brexit-backing politicians had not “thought all this through” in the years they had been pushing for the UK to leave the EU.

Related: Brexit talks: where are the negotiations up to?

Ireland’s new taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has been much more sceptical than the UK about the potential for avoiding border posts via virtual checks on importers. Whilst agreeing with British ministers and EU negotiators that it is inconceivable for there to be a return to a hard border with the north, Dublin argues that the best way for the UK to achieve this would be by permanently remaining in a customs union with the EU and seeking single market membership like Norway through the European Economic Area. The UK has conceded that some of this will be necessary in its interim phase after Brexit, but hopes clever technological solutions can allow it have looser economic links in the long run. Varadkar is not alone in being sceptical about whether such a cake-and-eat-it customs and trade strategy is viable.

Related: Downing Street denies it will back down over fixing date of Brexit

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Published on 17 November 2017 | 12:49 pm


Are you worried about the Irish border post-Brexit? Share your thoughts

As UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson prepares to meet his Irish equivalent, we want your views on the question of a hard or ‘frictionless’ border as Brexit negotiations continue

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is visiting his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, in Dublin on Friday, with time running out for the British government to secure an arrangement for Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Related: EU: ‘Tories putting party before the interests of Northern Ireland’

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Published on 16 November 2017 | 12:12 pm


Belfast tower blaze: alarm system worked correctly, fire service says

Fire service responds after residents of block on Seymour Hill estate claimed they could not hear alarms when fire broke out

Northern Ireland’s fire and rescue service has insisted that a fire alarm system in a block of flats did operate when a serious fire broke out on Wednesday night.

Residents of Coolmoyne House on the Seymour Hill estate in Dunmurry, Belfast, claimed they could not hear fire alarms when the blaze broke out in a flat on the ninth floor around tea time.

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Published on 16 November 2017 | 11:16 am


Corbyn government would be 'disaster' for Northern Ireland, says DUP leader

Arlene Foster says she could never work with Labour leader, claiming he would be ‘clearly partisan towards republicanism’

Any Jeremy Corbyn government would be disastrous for Northern Ireland because of his perceived bias towards the republican community, the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, has argued.

Foster, who was Northern Ireland’s first minister until the power-sharing executive collapsed in January, said she could never work with the Labour leader, and she urged Theresa May – whom the DUP are propping up in Westminster – should “focus on the big issues”.

Related: Westminster imposes budget on Northern Ireland

Related: Irish PM 'disrespectful' for hoping Brexit will not happen, says DUP

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Published on 15 November 2017 | 8:00 pm


Fire sweeps through tower block near Belfast

Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry evacuated and one man taken to hospital as residents claim alarm failed to go off

Residents of a block of flats on the western outskirts of Belfast have been evacuated from their homes after a fire swept through a number of floors of the building on Wednesday evening.

The fire broke out in Coolmoyne House on the Seymour Hill estate in Dunmurry, which is close to the Belfast to Dublin rail line.

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Published on 15 November 2017 | 6:58 pm


The Rev David Haggan obituary

My father-in-law, David Haggan, who has died aged 91, was born into a modest Belfast background but liked to say that he had a privileged childhood.

Growing up with two brothers and two sisters in Northern Ireland in the 1930s had something of the Famous Five about it: he got to shunt steam trains in the marshalling yard at the bottom of the road, courtesy of a relative who worked there. His parents, William, an office manager in a linen mill, and his wife, Essie (nee Neill), though Baptist and teetotal, were both remarkably laid back and unfazed when their children disappeared on new adventures.

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Published on 15 November 2017 | 6:16 pm


As the Tory Brexit fight club slugs it out, do they even care about Ireland? | Rafael Behr

Ego-wrestling British cabinet ministers seem willing to risk their neighbours’ hard-won peace and prosperity. And the rest of Europe can see that

There is no definition of good neighbourliness in foreign affairs. Alliances are fixed by treaties. Regional trade is measured in goods and services. But those things cannot describe the texture of relations between countries, the way adjacent nations rub along together.

This quality is as important to Brexit as the technical hooks on which negotiations are currently snagged. No European Union member state wanted the UK to leave, and it is hard for them not to feel aggrieved by Britain’s choices. Theresa May urges Brussels not to take offence. Less emollient leavers say the continentals should get over it and focus on mutual trade (as if their own campaign was some case study in cool rationality).

Related: Theresa May faces Tory backlash over putting Brexit date in EU withdrawal bill as debate starts - Politics live

Yes, Gove, Johnson, Davis and May, they can see you. Europe is watching your absurd, panic-stricken squabbles

Related: EU citizens who become British can bring non-EU spouses to UK, court rules

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Published on 14 November 2017 | 7:33 pm


Paralysis has gripped Northern Ireland. But politicians are just looking blithely on | Peter Hain

Power-sharing requires compromise – but the mutual obdurance of Sinn Féin and the DUP is bringing Stormont to its knees. Theresa May needs to step in now

For those who put years of hard work into establishing peace and inclusive self-government in Northern Ireland, it’s been painful to observe how local obduracy and Westminster’s incompetence have brought power-sharing to a halt for nearly a year.

Related: Westminster imposes budget on Northern Ireland

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Published on 14 November 2017 | 6:22 pm


UK risks mass exodus of EU academics post-Brexit, finds report

One-third of languages and economics teaching staff are from EU, who need more clarity about their status, says British Academy study

The potential risk to UK universities from post-Brexit academic flight has been laid bare in a report that reveals there are regions where up to half of academic staff in some departments are EU nationals.

The British Academy report [pdf] warns that economics and modern language departments will be particularly badly hit if European academics leave the UK, with more than a third of staff in each discipline currently from EU member states.

Related: Universities and Brexit: ‘We’ve 2,500 EU students – talent we don’t want to lose’

Related: Our cowed universities can no longer see off an invasion of their autonomy | Peter Scott

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Published on 14 November 2017 | 12:01 am








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