New U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunyak has made progress to break through the Northern Ireland Protocol hurdles. It is unlikely that his predecessor, P.M. Boris Johnson, really wanted to find a solution. As a reminder, the Northern Ireland Protocol was Johnson’s answer to deal with the potential of a hard border created by Brexit.
The Six Counties occupied by the British were always a mere afterthought to the main proponents of Brexit. Those Brexiteers did not likely expect the push back from the European Union and the United States to the potential of a heavy trade border being created on the island of Ireland. The Protocol created a soft border in the Irish Sea, greatly upsetting the Unionists who have, in a fit of anger, boycotted participation in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Windsor Framework (named after the meeting between P.M. Suynak and the President of the E.U., held in the suburban London neighborhood of Windsor) provides more practical solutions to the minor irritations that the Northern Ireland Protocol created. Essentially, the Windsor Framework replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol. It provides for a “Green Lane” and a “Red Lane” for goods moving from Great Britain to Ireland.
The Green Lane has reduced paperwork for those goods going from Great Britain to be sold only in the Six Counties. The Red Lane has more paperwork designed for those goods which are just passing through the Six Counties on their way to the Republic of Ireland and the E.U. countries markets.
Secondly, U.K. will get to set Value Added Tax (VAT) rates. Third, The European Court of Justice will still hold the final determination regarding Single Market issues in the Six Counties. Fourth, a Northern Ireland brake has been created; essentially the Northern Ireland Assembly can vote to oppose any certain application of E.U. trade rules. If a vote passes and Westminster agrees, the regulation will not be applied until all parties’ review.
Repeal the Northern Ireland Protocol
Fifth, Sunyak’s government will pull the legislation introduced by P.M. Johnson repealing the Northern Ireland Protocol. This removal will be a good faith measure offered by the U.K. government and send a signal to the DUP that London is moving forward to put the rancor of Brexit behind them and get on with new international trade agreements.
The DUP have still not accepted the Windsor Framework but are not putting up a full-scale opposition. It is believed that the DUP will continue to posture by not assenting in order to hold on to the hard right voters in the Unionist Community. The Windsor Framework, far from perfect, is likely as good as it will be for all sides.
A healthier level of cooperation between London and Brussels provides for the opportunity to try to move beyond Brexit and maximize any opportunities presented by this eight-year odyssey foisted on the North of Ireland by the Brexiteers. The bottom line is that the Framework works to soften the Irish Sea Border to placate the Unionists while maintaining the open border between the Six Counties and the Republic.
President Biden was valiantly using his visit to Belfast, as well as to his ancestral home counties of Mayo and Louth to nudge London to push the loyalists back into Stormont as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Accord. Peace and reconciliation on the path to a united Ireland continues to be a work in progress, but the dawn is in sight.
No worries, your ‘old’ Elizabeth banknotes will still be accepted at your favorite neighborhood pub and turf agent. FYI, King Charles 1 was executed by his parliament and King Charles II presided over the horrible plague of 1665 and the Great London fire of 1666. The Brits have nowhere to go but up?
Corona Nation or Coronation?
Most of U.S.A. will celebrating Cinco de Mayo on May 5th by throwing back record amounts of beer, more than on Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick’s Day. And thanks to a likely heavy head resulting from the call of CoronaNation the next day, many will miss the Coronation of Charles III and Queen Camilla as king and queen of the United Kingdom. Yes, May 6th will be the day for Royal watchers to get their fill; pomp and circumstance will prevail; drama will prevail, as the soap opera of Harry and Megan will play itself out, and we will see visible evidence of the changing of the Buckingham Palace guard with the issuance of new U.K. Bank Notes, adorned with the new King’s portrait.
Walks of Life
The Irish American Archives Society (Irisharchives.org) will hold its annual Walks of Life Awards Dinner on Thursday, May 18th, 2023, at Windows on the River in Cleveland’s West Bank of the Flats. The Society works to preserve the history of the Irish American Community.
The 2023 Honorees will be: William (Bill) Koehler, Team NEO/JobOhio Network, Aer Lingus direct flights; Fr. Thomas D. Mahoney, Diocese of Cleveland, LAOH Chaplin, Piper; Adele Ryan Malley, Past President of Malley’s Chocolates; Joan M. Reali, Pioneer Savings Bank, Gaelic Society; Brendan Ring, Proprietor Nightown restaurant. The event is always a festive affair. Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2023-walks-of-life-awards-dinner-tickets-599155108057
AER Lingus Update:
Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb are scheduled to fly on the inaugural flight of Aer Lingus’ direct Cleveland-Dublin Flight on May 19th, 2023. Ronayne and Bibb will lead a delegation of JobsOhio folks to highlight the direct air connectivity to the European Common Market and partake in meetings with business, cultural and civic leaders of the Irish Government.
Ireland has over 800 companies operating in the U.S. and have over 100,000 American employees on their payroll. Since Brexit, Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the European Union, one of the largest economies in the world.
Achill; Hollywood East?
And yet another Irish film is gaining recent acclaim. “My Sailor My Love” was well received this year at the Toronto and Cleveland Film Festivals. Like “Banshees,” this picture was also filmed on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, showcasing its spectacle and beauty.
While the cinematography alone would push one to recommend viewing, Finnish Director Klaus Hapo has pulled together a movie with a take on love discovered later in life. Scottish actor James Cosmo and Irish actor Brid Brennan lead this film that works itself through family recrimination and cruelty and yet remind us of the never-ending human capacity to love.
*John Myers is