Tag Archives: northern ireland

8 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?
  • Lib Dems: BBC now complicit in establishment stitch-up to exclude Remain voice

Lib Dems: If the PM thinks NI deal is so good – why doesn’t the rest of the UK have it?

Responding to comments made by Boris Johnson that Northern Ireland has got a great deal by keeping access to the Single Market and free movement, Liberal Democrat Shadow Brexit Secretary Tom Brake said:

The Single Market and freedom of movement are a great deal – even Boris Johnson

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Sign Sheila’s petition on Northern Ireland and Brexit

The UK Government must not risk a return to ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. That’s what’s inspired Sheila Ritchie, our Lib Dem MEP for Scotland to launch a UK Parliamentary petition calling on the Government not to impose any additional border restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Ms Ritchie’s petition comes as the Good Friday Agreement approaches the 20th anniversary of it taking effect and is sponsored by fellow Liberal Democrat MEPs.

Sheila Ritchie said:

For almost 20 years now, the Good Friday Agreement has kept the peace between communities. 

Freedom to move across the Irish border without restrictions has been a key contributor to this peace and should not be up for negotiation simply for Boris Johnson’s political convenience.

The UK Government must not threaten this agreement, or risk a return to ‘the Troubles’, by imposing any additional border restrictions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The petition says:

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The Government’s Brexit plan is dangerous for Ireland

The wheeze the Johnson government has come up with to salvage the “complete UK exit from the EU Customs Union”, having customs controls on companies’ premises, may look clever.  But in a Northern Ireland with every so often bomb and mortar attacks by dissident, extremist Republican outfits like the “Continuity IRA {CIRA}” and/or “Real IRA {RIRA}”on policemen doing their job (or standing at a petrol station in a street), it carries obvious and serious risks, dangers. 

And trying to reconvene the Northern Ireland Assembly, where DUP and Sinn Féin deeply distrust each other about things like green energy projects and use of the Irish language, to have them decide by any procedure about starting, continuing or stopping Johnson’s border policies, where Republicans suspect the DUP could get an advantage or veto, only increases the provocation to dissident Republicans; and could increase their support base.

The first and obvious danger is that, as the Real IRA has already attacked the homes and cars of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers (as happened on 21 February 2017 so the homes and vehicles of HMCE officers also could be attacked. And that also increases the risk that neighbours and shops near such homes get hurt, are damaged; even more homes and shops are at risk as a result.

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Learn about Northern Ireland’s only Liberal MP – event tomorrow in Belfast

A book has just been published by the Ulster Historical Federation telling the story of Sheelagh Murnaghan, Ireland’s only Liberal MP.

‘In Northern Ireland politics, I don’t know which is the greatest obstacle: to be a WOMAN, a CATHOLIC or a LIBERAL. I am all three.’

Sheelagh Murnaghan was a remarkable person. She was the first female barrister to practise in Northern Ireland; a talented sportswoman who played hockey for Ulster and Ireland; the only Liberal Party MP 1961-9) in the 50-year history of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

In a country riven by sectarianism, she was consistently a voice of reason and humanity, endlessly challenging the widely-held assumption that it was normal and right to ‘look after one’s own people’ and ‘do down the other side’. A patriot in the most genuine meaning of the word she tried to save her country from its demons. Her efforts were spurned and Northern Ireland paid a terrible price for that rejection.

However, time would prove Sheelagh to be right, as a torchbearer for human rights, non-violence and respect for the dignity of others, she proved herself to be decades ahead of other politicians and political parties, as many of her original ideas have come to be enshrined in law in Northern Ireland.

I know that this is very late notice, but if any of you find yourselves in Belfast at a loose end tomorrow, there will be a talk on Sheelagh’s life between 1 and 2 pm. The details are here.

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3 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice
  • Jane Dodds: Irish border plan designed to fail

Jane Dodds: Politicians must right WASPI Injustice

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has responded to the WASPI campaign’s defeat in the High Court, claiming it is the responsibility of politicians to right the injustice suffered by WASPI Women.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MP commented:

This ruling will undoubtedly be disappointing for all those women affected. Women who have campaigned tirelessly to reverse the unfair change to their pensions. My thoughts are with all these women today.

This ruling must remind us politicians that it is our responsibility to

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The speeches that got away: Any form of Brexit would damage Ireland, north and south

“With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

With that carefully crafted phrase in Dublin in 2011 the Queen set the seal on the unprecedented rapprochement between the UK and Ireland embodied in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. In 30 years of violence over 3000 people perished, many of whom, to use one of the clumsy phrases from our hapless Prime Minister, “died in a ditch”.

A good friend of mine died in a ditch.

The GFA guaranteed Northern Ireland’s place in the UK unless its people by majority decide otherwise. The quid pro quo was absolute equality for all in the North and all-island co-operation to the maximum degree achievable without breaking that constitutional guarantee. This goes far beyond an open border for goods and people. The process is still going on as we speak.

Before David Cameron offered the people of the UK the unilateral right to leave the EU if a majority so wished, he did nothing to consult the government or people of Ireland. Is this not one of her Majesty’s “things we would wish had been done differently”?

And make no mistake – EU membership and the GFA are interlinked. One of the sections of the GFA speaks of “close co-operation between the countries as friendly neighbours and partners in the European Union.” A clause in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 implementing the GFA even outlaws any act or legislation by the Stormont Assembly which conflicts with any EU rule. So this talk of the GFA and EU membership being two separate issues is yet another of so many lies.

While the famous backstop is better than nothing and would be welcomed by virtually all businesses in Northern Ireland the truth is that any form of brexit would seriously damage Ireland North and South. That is one of the reasons why on reflection I support the motion before us now. We must constantly make it clear that

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Jo Swinson visits Irish Border

Back in 2017, LDV held a fringe meeting at the Bournemouth Conference where we talked about the areas that could be most harmed by Brexit – the Irish Border and Gibraltar. We heard that the manufacturing process for some products could involve crossing that border five times. You can just imagine the chaos Brexit brings to that process.

Today, Jo Swinson, who has barely had a break since being elected leader 3 weeks ago, headed to the Irish Border to hear from the people who would be amongst the worst affected by any Brexit.

She went one better than Boris Johnson who has never bothered himself to actually go and find out what havoc he is so cavalier about wreaking. Here is the interview she gave to BBC News.

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9 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Labour are still a party of Brexit
  • Prisons inspector reveals Tory neglect
  • Northern Ireland votes mark historic step towards equality
  • Cable: We must continue the fight to stop no deal

Labour are still a party of Brexit

Responding to the reports that Jeremy Corbyn has finally agreed that the next PM must put their Brexit deal or a no deal exit to a People’s Vote, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Labour are still a party of Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn can pretend all he likes that the Labour Party are finally moving towards backing the Liberal Democrat policy of a People’s Vote, but it is clear

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Many congratulations to Naomi Long and the Alliance party in Northern Ireland – elected by STV!


Many congratulations to Naomi Long on a stunning win in Northern Ireland for our sister party, the Alliance. Naomi, who is the leader of the Alliance party, a former MP and Lord Mayor of Belfast, becomes the Alliance party’s first MEP.

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17 May 2019 – the overnight press release

Lib Dems demand same-sex marriage for Northern Ireland on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Today on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Responding to reports that the Conservative Government, propped up by the anti-equal marriage party the DUP, is considering legislating to allow longer licensing hours for the Open Golf Championship taking place in Northern Ireland this July, Alistair Carmichael said:

It is ridiculous that the Conservatives would even consider legislating for the British Open to have slightly longer licensing hours while they are

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The Brexit Myth

The recent success of the Liberal Democrats at the 2019 Local Elections is something which, undoubtedly, has brought a great amount of joy to all of us who have weathered this five year storm. However, a narrative has already taken shape, one that threatens future momentum and growth – that this is attributable only to Brexit and Brexit related issues. This is a reading that is surface level. A little thought and a cursory digging dispels this myth.

First of all, we must look at who benefited most from the Conservative and Labour defeat. Of course, at a gain of 704 we have come first, with independents taking second, Greens third, and Residents Associations taking fourth, with smaller parties making up the rest. This break down is important. Surely, if this was an affect only of a Brexit backlash then RA’s would not have done as well? Indeed, the SDP came second in the wards they ran in, and independents fly under a myriad of different banners. Even the Brexit supporting Liberal Party gained a councillor in Liverpool and regained prominence on Pickering Town Council. The question, then, is this – what do these groups have in common? The trend seems to be one of a yearning for community, with each grouping possessing a strong communitarian streak. The Liberal Democrats were the forerunners of community politics, independent candidates tend toward community issues, and RA’s are based in this kind of thought. The SDP also describe themselves as “nation state communitarians”.

The second important indicator is the local election results in Northern Ireland, with the performance of the non-sectarian Alliance and Green parties. Though the DUP and Sinn Fein still retained the majority of councillors, both experienced a drop in seat share. The UUP experienced a drop that was more akin to the Tories, with Alliance being the main beneficiary. That non-sectarian parties are finally expanding their influence on the local level, even if the hegemony has not been broken, is indicative of the same trend seen in England – people are looking for community-centric alternatives who act in the interests of all who are living in the immediate area.

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19 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Lib Dems: We must reject violence in Northern Ireland

Responding to reports that journalist Lyra McKee has been killed during violence in Londonderry, Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

I never met Lyra McKee but by all accounts she was a young woman of great talent, courage and humanity. These are all talents that we need now more than ever so we should all mourn her passing.

My condolences go to all her family and friends who are having to come to terms with their loss today. Unlike Lyra, those who bring violence to the streets of Northern Ireland have nothing

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26 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws
  • Cable: Housebuilders must not pinch their profits from the public purse
  • PM in the process of creating a double cliff-edge
  • Govt’s no deal papers shows PM driving UK to a cliff edge
  • Labour fail to oppose Govt’s controversial knife crime orders

Lib Dems join Amnesty International UK in fight against NI abortion laws

Today, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine will join women impacted by NI abortion law along with Amnesty International UK, other MPs, and other service providers and activists to hand in a petition to …

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4 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Welsh Liberal Democrats recommit to supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing

To mark the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week (4th February – 10th February), the Welsh Liberal Democrats are recommitting to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Wales’ children and young people.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister has taken a number of steps intended to promote mental health and wellbeing in schools. This includes developing a whole-school approach to mental health, connecting schools with mental health expertise, and taking forward curriculum reform with a strong emphasis on mental health and wellbeing.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:

The

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25 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Brake: Lavery’s comments show Labour figures still ignoring party members

Responding to Ian Lavery’s comments that a People’s Vote would be divisive, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

I am sure many Labour voters will see these comments by their Party Chair as the real divisiveness.

He side steps the fact that campaigning for a public vote is Labour policy after last year’s conference.

Labour can either join the Conservatives and push this deeply unpopular Brexit through, or act in the interests of the country and on the wishes of their supporters and join the Liberal Democrat campaign for a

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31 December 2018 – 6 January 2019 – the week’s press releases

Right, the holiday season is over, and it’s back to something resembling normalcy tomorrow, what with Parliament resuming and all. So, here’s the press releases that you missed…

  • Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal
  • Javid comments on asylum seekers ‘completely unacceptable’
  • Corbyn cosies up to the Conservatives on Brexit
  • All Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty
  • Cable: PM’s publicity campaign is scaremongering
  • Cable: Govt must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland
  • Lib Dems: Govt must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Govt must provide answers over forced marriage scandal

Liberal Democrats today condemned reports that the Government is charging victims of illegal forced marriages to …

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14 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a long day today, with the last press release issued after 10 p.m….

  • Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages
  • Number Ten bows to pressure on FOBT stakes
  • Failures on women’s health becoming the norm
  • DUP “punishment beating” comments unacceptable and dangerous
  • ‘No Brexit’ still a very real possibility
  • Country still none the wiser on PM’s blindfold Brexit
  • Brexit will rob UK of crucial cross-border crime-fighting tools

Tories “unacceptably risky” on impact of Brexit food shortages

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has warned the Tories are being “unacceptably risky” as a House of Commons committee finds that failures in preparing for Brexit mean food shortages …

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26 October 2018 – today’s press releases

A very diverse range of press releases today, it must be said…

Universal Credit causing unacceptable hardship

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has slammed the Conservative Government for refusing to listen to problems experienced by those on Universal Credit as the Public Accounts Committee urges Ministers to make fundamental changes to the scheme.

The Public Accounts Committee has today (26th October) published its report into the implementation of Universal Credit. The committee concludes that:

  • The DWP’s dismissive attitude to real-world experience is failing claimants
  • The recent announcement of delayed roll-out is not a solution
  • The Government must work with third-party organisations to shape programme

Liberal Democrat MP …

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Layla Moran MP writes…From Belfast with love

I’m not an expert on Northern Irish politics. In fact, until a few weeks ago I’d never been to the province.

But when I was asked a few months ago if I would sponsor a cross-party Bill in Westminster that would introduce the right for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland to get married it was a no-brainer.

As debates rage over Brexit, the border and the backstop we hear that the Government’s confidence and supply the partners, the DUP, don’t want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK.

But when it comes to LGBT+ rights Northern Ireland is years behind England, Scotland, Wales and, now, the Republic of Ireland too.

Of course, people originally from Northern Ireland who now live in my Oxford West and Abingdon constituency and across Great Britain can marry the person they love here – but if that person is someone of the same sex then when they step off the plane in Belfast their marriage isn’t recognised.

When I visited Belfast recently, I met with Amnesty International NI, representatives from the LGBT branch of the cross-community Alliance Party and with campaigners from Here NI and The Rainbow Project. We discussed the campaign for love equality for people in Northern Ireland and what MPs in Westminster could and should be doing.

For me, the biggest take-away from these meetings was the intense feeling of frustration. As they see friends and family members in the Republic of Ireland and across the water getting married and being treated as equals, progress in Northern Ireland is non-existent.

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24 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Back to something resembling normal today…

Cable: UC’s practical problems are being ignored, creating real hardship

In a pre-Budget speech to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable will call for a series of reforms to Universal Credit.

These include the reversal of cuts to the work allowance, worth around £3bn a year, and ending the benefits freeze a year early.

Vince Cable is expected to say:

The problems stem from conflicting objectives: providing minimum family income; providing incentives to work; simplification; and saving money. Simplification, saving money and work incentives have taken precedence over the first, crucial,

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22 October 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a busy day in HQ, and there’s news of a victory over the Government in the Lords…

Lib Dems: Research shows hard border for NI puts lives at risk

Research by the Liberal Democrats and PoliticsHome has shown how crucial a soft border is between Ireland and Northern Ireland, specifically in relation to emergency service call-outs.

A series of freedom of information requests has shown that 182 ambulances and 270 fire engines crossed into the Republic during 2016-17 in response to 999 calls, highlighting how a hard border could potentially leave people with far slower emergency responses if the UK …

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Wishing David Ford a happy retirement

David Ford is enjoying the first day of his retirement today. He’s been such a wise, sensible voice in Northern Ireland politics for over quarter of a century.

He explains to the BBC why he’s decided that now is the right time to step down from the Assembly.

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Lib Dem MPs support abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland

Three Liberal Democrat MPs took part in yesterday’s Commons debate on giving women in Northern Ireland access to legal and safe abortions without having to travel. The recent vote to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution, paving the way for legislation allowing abortion up to 12 weeks in Ireland and the provisions of the 1967 Act in the rest of the UK. The issue has been devolved to the Northern Ireland assembly since 2003, but that Assembly is not currently sitting. The Irish referendum and a UN report from earlier this year which stated that:

the situation in

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How the government tried to win hearts and minds during the Northern Ireland troubles


Embed from Getty Images

Available for the next 17 days on BBC iPlayer, there’s a very interesting documentary produced by BBC Northern Ireland. It chronicles the public service television adverts that were commissioned by the Northern Ireland office between 1988 and 1998.

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LibLink: Catherine Bearder: Brexit threatens the very fabric of the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday agreement works to keep the peace in Ireland and Brexit threatens it, says Catherine Bearder in an article for the New European. She illustrates the difference it has made to one community:

In the early days of the Troubles, the British Army opened a barracks in Forkhill to accommodate around 600 soldiers right next to a housing estate. Helicopters regularly took off and landed over the roofs of these homes, some even damaging them. The army controlled the television signals as well as the street lighting. It was one of the most dangerous places for British soldiers.

No one wants a return to those days.

The residents of Forkhill had been looking towards the future, not the past. On the site of the old barracks they are building a community garden and a wider project called the Peace Forest Ireland Initiative which aims to plant 4,000 trees on both sides of the border in memory of those who died during the Troubles. This is an ex-military site being redeveloped as a clear signal that the local community is moving forward, putting the past behind it.

Brexit puts all that at risk, she argues, so those who have to live with the consequences should get the chance to say if they agree with the Brexit deal:

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Brexit isn’t just causing problems with Northern Ireland

One of the most astonishing things about the last few days is how willing Brexiteers have been to jeopardise decades of peace in Northern Ireland.

Most of them are old enough to go better. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and remember the turmoil. I had relatives who missed being blown up by a matter of minutes. The loss of life and violence and uncertainty was horrendous and that time should not be easily or lightly forgotten.

But it’s not just that part of the UK that’s heading for constitutional issues because of Brexit. The failure of the Scottish and …

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The Government does not have a clue on a solution to the Irish border problem

Being an earnest seeker after truth I downloaded the full Joint Report of 8 December in order to discover just how the Prime Minister proposed to accomplish the trick of leaving the single market and the customs union whilst still having no physical border between the European Union, ie the Republic of Ireland, and the UK, ie Northern Ireland.

I searched in vain. There are no practical plans whatsoever in the Report. All there is are statements of intent on “the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland,” relying “to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and policy framework,” on being “committed …. to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border,” and “will propose specific solutions,” “will maintain full alignment,” with the necessary EU rules and “will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union.” It has the worthy aims of “what” they want, but nothing of “how”.

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Carmichael: Conservative ministers wrong to attend DUP Conference

Alistair Carmichael has criticised the appearance of two senior Conservative Ministers at the DUP’s annual Conference. The Conservatives are beholden to the DUP for a majority and in June agreed a deal with them which cost us £1 billion. The greater cost, though, is the damage to the sensitive political relationships in Northern Ireland.

Was is really necessary or wise for Damien Green to go for a dinner and Tory Chief Whip to be welcomed to the stage with such obvious pride by the DUP?

Alistair Carmichael says that it wasn’t?

The peace process is still fragile and has survived because British politicians have been prepared to rise above the usual partisan politics.

It is difficult to see how anyone in Northern Ireland and Ireland will see Conservative ministers as being anything other than part of the problem now. It was a mistake for them to go.

Ireland has been much in the headlines this weekend. Tom Brake had this to say on the comments by Ireland’s EU Commissioner that it is a “very simple fact” that “if the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU Customs Union, or better still the Single Market, there would be no border issue”.

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Brexit and the Irish Border

There are more road crossings on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic than on the entire Eastern border of the European Union. Actually, there are 275 Irish border crossings, compared to 137 from Finland to Greece, according to figures obtained by my Alliance colleague Stephen Farry MLA.

That emphasises why the Irish border is such an issue for Northern Ireland, for the UK and for Ireland.  Yet the Government’s “Position Paper” on Northern Ireland and Ireland is woefully inadequate, failing to deal with issues of both trade and justice co-operation.

It is clear is that this is one area where those leading the campaign for Brexit have no idea how to resolve matters.  We have had simplistic thoughts from the likes of Owen Patterson, citing TIR freight and Customs seals, while DUP MPs have suggested that automatic number plate recognition works on Irish toll motorways, so ANPR could perform border checks.  Has Owen Patterson forgotten all that he and I heard about smuggling when he was Secretary of State for NI and I was Stormont Minister of Justice?  While ANPR can identify a vehicle, can the DUP tell me how to identify who and what is in it?

Having campaigned for Remain, and horrified by all that is emerging from negotiations on an almost daily basis, I remain of the view that the people of the UK and Gibraltar should have the right to vote on the final deal.  Second to that comes the softest possible way of leaving the EU.  Ideally, the UK as a whole would remain in the Customs Union and in the Single Market.  This would avoid the need for any form of physical border controls on the land border, which would present clear targets for dissident republican groups.

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Photo feature: Ballot box goes off to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, a day early due to the ferry schedule

Some great photos from Getty Images (click on the arrows to see the slide show) which give a great view of the workings of democracy on “these islands” (as they say).

Mandy Hassan, an assistant area electoral officer for Antrim and mid Ulster, accompanies the ballot box on the ferry destined for Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland. There are 99 voters on the island and they usually have a 80% turnout.

Update 8/6: I changed the title upon sage advice from locals. Weather concerns were not a factor.

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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 12th Nov - 10:47am
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