The EU’s commitment to Ireland has been confirmed, the Good Friday Agreement has been protected, and the border ‘backstop’ has been assured, says Simon Coveney. Aweek ago, we did not have a Brexit withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU. Today, we do.A week ago, commentators were still questioning whether the EU would abandon Ireland at the end of negotiations or connect our corporation tax rate to solidarity.They were wrong.A week ago, the opposition here questioned if the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and I had buckled, because we were willing to allow a review of the backstop.The text disproved their baseless claims: The backstop cannot be revoked without the agreement of the EU.Last Wednesday marked a milestone in the Brexit process. The EU and the UK agreed a draft, legally binding withdrawal agreement. British prime minister Theresa May announced that this has been adopted collectively by her cabinet.In Dublin, we stayed quiet on the text, initially, to … [Read more...] about Simon Coveney: We have a deal
Party leader Leo Vardakar keeps insisting (at least on RTÉ) there will be no early election. Trouble is, someone forgot to tell the troops at the ard fheis, writes Juno McEnroe.Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan led the bursts of enthusiasm for a snap poll, asserting the printing presses for posters and campaign materials were “well oiled”.The chances of a snap poll and the Brexit withdrawal deal were the two topics du jour at the 2,500-strong gathering in CityWest, Dublin.Tánaiste Simon Coveney threw down a gauntlet early on Saturday morning, at a press conference. The deal with Fianna Fáil would be off unless Fine Gael gets clarity, and soon.The parties are in talks behind closed doors, looking at whether the confidence and supply agreement can be renewed. Fianna Fáil have dug in their heels, refusing to commit to anything until a review is done, while Fine Gael’s frustration is mounting as its appeal for two years more of the Government support … [Read more...] about Troops nearly ready for battle, but is Ireland?
If the Government really thought gender equality was a priority, it could start by looking at the makeup of the cabinet and their party, writes Margaret Hickey.The decision by Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor to establish women only professorships in universities and other third-level institutes is quite evidently about optics not policy.Unless it is the policy of virtue signalling to appease powerful and articulate lobbies and their backers. If she and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were serious about raising the profile of women in top jobs, they would put their own house in order first.Or they might just imaginatively apply the proposed ‘acceleration’ of gender equality, as Mr Varadkar described it, to the Fine Gael party and see how it fits. If it doesn’t seem right or appropriate there, then why would it be right anywhere else?Fine Gael has never had a female leader. Could the next leadership contest be confined to women only? Far too premature, … [Read more...] about Women-only professorships a triumph of optics over policy
To cite Lewis Carroll, the British government have been hunting a Snark, writes Michael Keating, University of Aberdeen.The Brexit process started in March 2017 with the triggering of Article 50, allowing two years to complete the process. The main story since then has been of postponing difficult decisions in the hope that something would turn up. Ministers have insisted they have a mandate from the people but have struggled to agree on what it entails in practice. Negotiations within the UK government have been as difficult as those with the EU. It might have been expected that, before March 2019, we would have a clear idea of what Brexit would look like. Instead, we have a 20-month “transition period”, which the UK government has been calling an “implementation” period. It is neither a transition nor an implementation phase, but the period in which the real negotiation of what Brexit means will take place; it can be extended once by agreement of both parties. … [Read more...] about May government’s Brexit aims were never achievable – they’ve been hunting a fantastical beast all along
David Bowman, University of TasmaniaCalifornia is burning, again. Dozens of peoples have been killed and thousands of buildings destroyed in several fires, the most destructive in the state’s history. The California fires are just the most recent in a series of major wildfires, including fires in Greece in July this year that killed 99 people, Portugal and Chile in 2017, and Australia. Why do wildfires seem to be escalating? Despite president Donald Trump’s tweet that the California fires were caused by “gross mismanagement” of forests, the answer is more complex, nuanced, and alarming.What caused the California fires?The current California fires reflect a complex mix of climate, social, and ecological factors. Fuels across California are currently highly combustible due to a prolonged drought and associated low humidity and high air temperatures. Indeed, it is so dry fires burn freely through the night. Such extreme weather conditions have the fingerprints of … [Read more...] about The bitter lesson of the Californian fires