Lots of questions about impact of Brexit on NI & prospects for reunification with Ireland... A political question beyond my specific scientific qualifications, though on which I am as entitled to hold an informed opinion as anyone else. So here are a few thoughts:
1) Whole point of GFA was to create environment in which cross-community relations could be improved under conditions of relative peace & stability. Even regardless of immediate economic damage of Johnson's new trade border, Brexit has already undermined that longterm goal. How?
2) Even if GFA never technically required UK to remain in the EU, the conditions for effective peace process substantially depended on common UK and IRL membership. Anything but softest of soft Brexits was bound to be a problem. So Tories' extremist Brexit is especially damaging.
3) Johnson's policies, deals included, have magnified sectarian identity politics. Imposing Irish Sea borders that stoke loyalist fears. Reinforcing links to EU that raise republican hopes. Creating uncertainty and inflaming tension. Reducing incentive to make GF settlement work.
4) B'tards, yes. But does that mean reunification = best / easy solution? I'm a Northern nationalist, so I share the longterm aspiration of a reunited Ireland. But only under the right conditions and not at the risk of serious economic, social and political damage. For example:
5) We know what a bad idea it is to make fundamental changes based on a bitterly divisive 50-50 vote. In NI, that applies x100 times. So reunification should be built on substantial cross-community support, representing a clear majority of entire population & reaching out to rest
6) And reunification will only work if the Republic is in a strong position to manage and accommodate it. It will cost a lot of money. It will need a lot of adjustments. Maybe significant constitutional change. And also important economic and social reforms, e.g. to healthcare.
7) Point is: GFA was best thing to happen to NI for a long time. Brexit seriously upset fragile conditions needed for GFA to deliver its longterm goals. But there is no easy way out again. Which helps explain profound anger I, & many others, feel for Tory wreckers & DUP enablers.

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More from @mdouganlpool

30 Dec 20
After my first reading of the draft EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement, here is a short thread with some initial thoughts:
1) this is a massive and complex document, covering very diverse & highly specialist fields. No single person could ever plausibly claim properly to master/understand it. So I’ve focused on my own (“big picture”) interests. Not, eg the (in fact marginal) details of fishing quotas
2) Let’s start with how draft treaty is being framed by UK Gov & client press. They compare it to “no deal” & thus treat it as some sort of triumph. Well: even on own terms, that is far from accurate: for many sectors, draft treaty is barely better than no deal at all
Read 15 tweets
7 Dec 20
Lots of requests for a "step-by-step" guide to where we are with the EU-UK negotiations.

So here you go - short thread summarising the essential context & key points / issues:
1) UK formally left EU in January 2020 but entered a "transition period" during which nothing very much changed: meant to give time for negotiations over future EU-UK relationship in fields like trade and security; based on "Political Declaration" as agreed by Johnson Government
2) Political Declaration envisaged only distant EU-UK relationship: partly logical consequence of Theresa May's longstanding "red lines" on free movement etc; but also result of renewed political preference, by Johnson Government, for even more extreme "clean break Brexit"
Read 16 tweets
8 Nov 20
Taking part in the pan-Liverpool mass testing scheme was dead easy: in and out in 15 mins; result by text within an hour.
It's not for me to say whether this scheme offers great promise or suffers whatever flaws. When a bona fide call comes - aux armes, citoyens - it's a civic duty to answer.
A negative result means: carry on obeying the rules that help keep people safe. Which is exactly what I'll do. My fellow scientists will learn whatever lessons need to be learned from the scheme. To the benefit of us all.
Read 4 tweets
30 Sep 20
As UKIM Bill makes its way to Lords, what could be done to improve it, so far as devolution is concerned?

Even accepting it’s probably going to pass, there is still considerable room for improvement. So: what changes might at least help lessen problems?

A few brief thoughts:
1) replace current proposals based on directly enforceable legal rights, with system of pre-legislative dialogue between UK authorities, ie to identify & discuss / address potential trade barriers. So: notify relevant proposals then find (preferably consensus) political solution
2) mutual recognition / non-discrimination are important principles & should provide reference point for that pre-legislative discussion – but only a reference point. They are not overriding objectives and they are should not be treated as (near) absolutes (as current Bill does)
Read 11 tweets
17 Sep 20
How to convey the recklessness of Johnson's tactics in relation to Northern Ireland?

Here are a few memories of my childhood growing up in working class West Belfast in the late 70s and 80s:
- us lying scared at the bottom of our parents' wardrobe, where they'd put us, covered in a few quilts, listening, terrified, to the rioting and gunshots right outside on our wee street
- walking home from the playground with my two younger sisters, being trailed with a rifle by a soldier standing behind a wall, hoping that he's pointing that gun at me and not one of them
Read 6 tweets
16 Sep 20
Those asking for more specific materials to help prove Tory lies about EU's supposedly new / extremist / absurd interpretation of Irish border Protocol...

Here is a series of short excerpts from my peer reviewed CMLRev analysis (written Nov 2019-Feb 2020, published June 2020):
1) excerpt pointing out how Johnson's lies about "no border in Irish sea" clash with clear reality of Johnson positively agreeing to extensive checks on movement of goods from GB to NI:
2) excerpt noting clear impact of checks on goods moving from GB to NI as agreed by Johnson; as well as need for checks on goods moving from NI to GB also agreed by Johnson; and explicitly anticipating problems this would inevitably cause for "UK Internal Market"
Read 5 tweets

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