Thursday 23 August 2018

Brexit Secretary Fails Northern Ireland #PeoplesVote

Brexit Secretary Dominic Rabb has told Northern Ireland businesses that trade across the border that in the event of "no deal" they should "speak to Dublin".

So it appears that individual businesses many of them small and medium sized businesses are going to have to make deals with our nearest EU neighbour. This is a dereliction of duty on behave of Her Majesties Government, it is throwing Northern Ireland and the many hard working entrepreneurs who have flourished since the Good Friday Agreement under the bus. The agri-food industry in particular will be lacking their EU supplements, some in this industry operate on both sides of the border already. But Westminster says talk to Dublin yourself.

This latest announcement about Northern Ireland shows a lack of concern from Westminster for Northern Ireland, for the successes that have come out of the Good Friday Agreement and the state of the Union itself. If we are being advised by London to speak to Dublin is this just code for go and join them?

I wonder what the DUP think of their partners telling Northern Ireland business to be prepared to speak to Dublin about the state of their business, jobs and production from next March?

Theresa May's government continues to show it is failing to understand the nature of Brexit, the damage it is heading towards and this is especially true of Northern. Everyone who is seeing this should now know that is it time to demand a Peoples Vote before this gets out of hand.

What We Really Deserve to be Better #WeDeserveBetter

On Monday I did make some comments on social media about the decision of the We Deserve Better campaign in Belfast disinviting Elaine Crory and John O'Doherty to speak at the end planned for 28th August.

For readers not in Northern Ireland Elaine works for the Belfast Feminist Network and Alliance for Choice, John for the Rainbow Project and Love Equality NI. Therefore the views of a leading feminist arguing for women's reproductive rights and a leading LGBT+ and equal marriage advocate were silenced.

I have taken some time to read through the threads on the We Deserve Better Campaign since Monday to get an idea of why some there have called the inclusion of these speakers "devisive" and feel that such "agendas" should not share the platform next week outside Belfast City Hall.

Firstly from what I have read the aim of the We Deserve Better campaign is simply to have a working Assembly up at Stormont. I agree with that as an aim. We need Ministers able to make policy, budget decisions and MLAs to vote on those decisions. On the face of it this is a noble aim.

The problem is and this is something that the withdrawal of these two speakers has brought to the fore. Health, Education, Infrastructure etc will all be and all have been up and running when we have had an Assembly in the past, even in the gaps when we haven't previously Westminster usually stepped in. On this occasion Westminster has refused to do anything, to make any decision on our behalf, this may or may not have anything to do with the largest party at the last Assembly Elections shortly thereafter entering an arrangement with the Governing party in Westminster to support then on key votes to do with Brexit.

We have not been told the details of that agreement but the inertia that has persisted in Northern Ireland may be as a result of the Prime Minister having to rely on DUP votes to get things done in London leading to a refusal to do anything to change anything in Northern Ireland.

However, the key is to have a working Assembly. The issue that the LGBT+ community and feminists in Northern Ireland have is that simply restoring the Assembly without some sort of reform does not make things better. The people who are part of We Deserve Better seem to think that simply getting the elected MLAs back into their seats in the chamber will allow them to make the decisions that can affect change on LGBT+ and women's issues.

Unfortunately both these groups are well aware of the short comings of the Assembly and have been for years. They have been shouting that we need better from Stormont. They have recognised that their views have for too long been able to be silenced, or debated but effectively stunted by one party using the mechanisms that can even turn a majority vote into a continuation of the status quo. This is the reason that there was anger on Monday when the announcement came about the withdrawal of these two speakers.

The LGBT+ and women's groups are used to and angry about continually being silenced, ignored, sidelined. They are continually used to hearing debates about their rights becoming a slanging match on TV or Radio often more of a hot potato than sectarian issues. They have been shouting for better for years. I have lost count of the number of times we have gathered at City Hall to demand better from our MLAs. We are the forerunners of calling for better governance of Northern Ireland, where minority rights can be trumped by a sectarian head count when those issues have always transcended the traditional sectarian divide.

We the ignored and sidelined minorities of Northern Ireland deserve better. Simply a resumption of the Assembly is not going to achieve that for everyone and therefore the "We" in We Deserve Better in not all inclusive. We appreciate that there are parties in the Assembly who do recognise that there is need for reform. We recognise that not all of the politicians in Stormont are the same. We know that there are some who are fighting for change that will make it easier to make things better.

Maybe this lack of government for all will help to highlight to others how their government which provided things for them when it sat, needs to do better for those of us whose rights are ignored and not advanced in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland, even when we have an Assembly.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

We will remember them: Oswald Cawley 22 August 1918

In addition to remembering my family members who died in the Great War, as this is a political blog I shall also be looking at the men who while still Members of Parliament signed up for the war and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The first in this series is The Hon. Oswald Cawley. He was the fourth and youngest son of Frederick Cawley who in January of 1918 had been elevated to the house of Lords as 1st Baron Cawley after serving as MP for Prestwich since 1895 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancashire from 1916-18.

His youngest son Oswald had stood as a Liberal in the by election to succeed his father.