Mike Vickers' Blog

March 18, 2019

DUP, Brexit and The Good Friday Agreement

Filed under: Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 11:58 am

Following on from my Blog: Derry Girls, Bloody Sunday and the Border

I consider it a deplorable situation where a party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, is determining whether the whole UK is leaving or remining in the EU. The DUP, although the major party in Northern Ireland, JUST, has no formal political power in that country as the Northern Ireland Parliament has not met for 2 years over an issue that was at least in part due to the First Minister’s (Arlene Foster) dealings on electricity.

I state straight away that I feel that the UK leaving the EU is a disaster and am biased. During the last 50 years, Europe has been war free; not being an historian I don’t know when this occurred before, but I suspect it is quite long ago.

Oddly, some 20 years ago, I was on a plane back from Germany and I spent the whole fight defending Ian Paisley and the feeling that the protectants in Northern Ireland felt uncomfortable with the dominant catholic population in Southern Ireland next door.

So, I was elated when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, and I can still remember the photo of the Chuckle Brothers: Ian Paisley (DUP) and Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein), (see in the article below)

Not only is the DUP now threatening the UK that they may only support Theresa May’s EU Deal if they are doled out more cash, they are, in practice at least, threatening the Good Friday Agreement itself.

For a more substantive argument than mine on the DUP’s intransigence see Patrick Cockburn’s article in today’s Independent.


Incidentally while Tony Blair has been much criticized since leaving office, he did, as Cockburn’s article states. reach agreement with Southern Irelands Prime Minister on the Good Friday Agreement.


March 17, 2019

Derry Girls, Bloody Sunday, Brexit and the Border

Filed under: Brexit, Ireland — derryvickers @ 10:39 pm

You may enjoy the Derry Girls on Channel Four and there’s a good article in the Guardian at:


But there are two sides to Derry and Londonderry, which are the same place.

Ireland North and South are at the centre of the Brexit ‘debate’ and the border which currently separates them. Of course, this was always going to be so and how Cameron ignored it (or apparently ignored it) when choosing to hold the Brexit Referendum only he can answer. The ‘Troubles’ were with us for thirty years only ending with The Good Friday Agreement. Since then the North and the South have started to work together and the physical border between them has largely been removed; but there remains simmering at the community level; a journey across the North would reveal Union Jacks fluttering on the lampposts in the North.

So Brexit, even though there was a majority vote in Northern Ireland to remain, was going to be ‘a cause of concern’ .  Wolud the border be reesatblished and what would the effect beon the separation North and South; would te catholicts in the North want to be united with the South. Only last week the Bloody Sunday enquiry recommended that only on solder be prosecuted for the shooting in Londonderry in 1972.

For a good exposition on the collision between Brexit and Ireland read Patrick Cockburn in this week’s Independent.


Cockburn is scathing of the interference by such fools as Boris Johnson leading to the possibility of further Bloody Sunday’s in the future.

The casual reader may thing this is a ‘local’ matter within the UK and possibly Southern Ireland (Eire) but the Bloody Sunday report this week has been taken up by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

March 8, 2019

This Day – 8 March 2019

Filed under: Brexit, economics, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 9:07 pm

I have just watched a programme  on BBC 4 on Hadrian’s Wall and its ultimate Failure to protect England at the End of Empire.

The Roman Empire imploded and England with it, for 750 years.

Is there an analogy here on 8 March 2019 to England imploding on itself following Brexit?

From the Guardian Website.  Very little to celebrate.



October 27, 2018

It’s an uncomfortable Truth but many now believe Brexit can’t be delivered – by Anna Soubry

Filed under: Anna Soubry, Brexit, Europe, History in the making, Ireland, Italian, Politics — derryvickers @ 9:50 pm
Per i miei amici italiani

È una verità scomoda, ma molti ora credono che Brexit non può essere consegnato.

Non mi fa piacere osservare il caos e la confusione dei negoziati Brexit. Non dubito che il nostro primo ministro abbia fatto della sua meglio per fornire il risultato del referendum UE e lasciare l’Unione europea.

Ma come molti ora vedono, non è solo molto più complesso e difficile di quanto si creda o sia stato detto, cercando di trovare un Brexit che soddisfa la domanda di molti che vogliono lasciare, pur garantendo la pace in Irlanda del Nord, è quasi, ma impossibile. Comitato di selezione dell’Irlanda del nord in Parlamento, i cui membri sono quasi esclusivamente sostenitori del congedo duro, ha prodotto una lunga e ponderata relazione su come evitare una linea duro tra l’Irlanda del Nord e la Repubblica.

Hanno concluso che non vi è alcuna tecnologia per risolvere il problema e ha riconosciuto l’importanza di assicurarsi che il vecchio confine fisso non ritorni.

La libera circolazione delle persone e delle merci attraverso il confine è fondamentale per il mantenimento della pace. È anche molto utile per le imprese in tutto il Regno Unito.
Quando lasciamo l’Unione europea, siamo impostiamo a lasciare l’Unione doganale e il mercato unico che permette quello che chiamiamo commercio senza attrito-che permette la libera circolazione.

La nostra adesione continua al mercato unico e all’Unione doganale è anche ciò che gli imprese britannici vogliono poiché sono fondamentali per fornire prosperità e posti di lavoro.

Ma il primo ministro e molti sostenitori di Brexit, in particolare in Parlamento, insistono che dobbiamo lasciare entrambi e fare qualche nuovo accordo commerciale con l’Unione europea.

Basato su un Blog di Anna Soubry

Regno Unito Parlamento MP

November 10, 2016

The UK and Scotland post Brexit

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:23 pm

A seminar given by Lord Gus O’Donnell to the David Hume institute on Tuesday 8th November and chaired by Charlie Wood.

Just in case you didn’t know Gus O’Donnell was Cabinet Secretary to the Westminster Parliament from 2005 t0 2011 covering three Prime Ministers, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

O’Donnell spoke at a rate of knots and assumed we all know Westminstereese; which I for one don’t!

That said the points I did capture were:

  1. David Hume’s much quoted ‘Reason is the slave of the Passions’
  2. Cameron made a big mistake on launching the Referendum
  3. Take Hard Brexit with a pinch of salt
  4. Migration problems are all over Europe – it is / will be a massive matter
  5. The UK will not adapt the Norwegian Solution to interfacing with the EU: it will be bespoke and will cost.
  6. Very little progress will be made during 2017; There will be Transitional Arrangements to cover the negotiation gap
  7. The funding gap left by the absence of UK revenue contribution will need to be made good by the remaining 27 members; they are not happy
  8. It will be difficulty for Teresa May to ensure Cabinet Collective Responsibility; it has already failed with Heathrow
  9. Effects of Brexit
    1. The Paris Climate Change agreement is in danger
  10. Limiting Migration into UK
    1. There is a Global shortage of skilled labour
    2. Canada is already enticing Finance Professionals from London
  11. The Single Market is essential
    1. Accommodation to maintain
  12. Productive in UK stopped in 2008
    1. Scotland is 2% to 5% lower than rUK
    2. 5% down on Assets
  13. Scotland will have 40% more control over the levers
    1. ½ Scottish revenue to be raised locally
  14. Sturgeon’s 5 tests
    1. O’D has a good opinion of Sturgeon
  15. Independent Scotland: O’D stated that in his experience from Canada and Quebec, independence is going away as older people die
  16. The terms of trade will not change for the UK after Brexit. They will be the same with the WTO – GATT rules will prevail
    1. The UK will not be able to pick and choose eg no separate agreement for Cars eg Nissan or for Finance
  17. The EU rules of the Single Market go way beyond CETA
  18. To trade in the EU after Brexit the UK will still have to follow the EU acquis
    1. The Great Repeal Bill will be no more that the UK importing the EU acquis into UK Law
    2. Regulation will not disappear; merely EU Regulation repatriated
  19. The UK government will be fully involved in the Brexit follow up to the detriment of Health, Education, and Public Services.
  20. The UK financial position distorted by Quantitative Easing: Deficit still too large, Rich people favoured. Need for special taxation
  21. Fundamental Alternatives are required. The Treasury has a host of plans but they will be ignored by the Westminster Government
  22. Article 50 is not neutral, it favours the rest of the EU
    1. It will be like 27 people playing one person in a game of chess
    2. The rEU very upset with the UK
    3. The trade-offs will be difficult to achieve
  23. It would have been better to trigger Article 50 this Autumn
  24. Vote Leave correlated with Inequality
  25. Brexit very different for Ireland and for Scotland. There must be Public Debate
    1. Agriculture is a nightmare
    2. Finances not easy
    3. Fisheries
    4. Energy easier and should be targeted
  26. Devolution while grudgingly given proved a useful experiment
    1. Westminster incredibly centralised
  27. Sturgeon is right on migration
  28. In response to Jeremy Peat, O’D agreed that Social Media could be the death o0f Rational Decision making. Democracy is in peril
  29. The Westminster Parliament has accepted Robots for manufacturing but has failed so far to considered for office working
  30. Gus O’Donnell’s family moved from Ireland in 1852 and he is going back for a visit.
    1. He cares enormously as to what happens in Ireland
    2. He praises the work done by Blair
    3. A disaster if border reintroduced following Brexit
    4. But believes a solution will be found.

April 10, 2016

Codicil – Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Filed under: Ireland, Personal, Poetry — derryvickers @ 9:13 pm

Bob Geldof has presented WB Yeats – A Fanatic Heart on BBC 4. It is too late now to watch on the IPlayer but it will be back.
To anyone who cares about Ireland, to anyone who cares about poetry this is compulsory watching.

A classic line by Geldof

‘Die for a Cause but live for a Reason.’

And then there is Yeats own epitaph

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death
Horseman, pass by!

April 4, 2016

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Ireland, Poetry, Politics, USA, War — derryvickers @ 9:45 pm

With all the comment on the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin I felt a need to listen to a CD I have of WB Yeats’ poems including Easter 1916. Three of the four verses finish with the line A terrible beauty is born’. I then listened to next poem ‘The Second Coming’ and came across that well know stanza

‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;     Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,     The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,     The ceremony of innocence is drowned;     The best lack all conviction, while the worst     Are full of passionate intensity.’

Well the poem’s well known to me since a guy I worked with in my first job harangued me that Yeats was the best of poets.

Interestingly I understand that Yeats ordered his published poems very carefully and he juxtaposed these two poems.

And when I look 100 years on from the Easter Rising I see that the Second Coming may be here and now. Whether we think of the Middle East, the US with the Donald, or here in the UK with Jeremy Corbyn at one extreme and the Right Ring Tories at the other with their passion to leave the EU. I am old enough to remember WWII and the thought of the EU breaking up appals me.

I am horrified that the young don’t vote; they see their vote as making no difference to what goes on in their name.


January 31, 2015

The May Elections and The Break-Up of the UK

Filed under: Corporates, Ireland, Politics, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 2:06 pm

From Jonathan Freedland – today’s Guardian


‘It’s a dispiriting sight. While the big forces that threaten Britain stretch far beyond these shores – an ailing global economy, climate change, violent jihadism – the nations of these small islands are turning against, not towards, each other.’


‘It’s loud, it’s nasty, and it needs to be handled with care – but it’s better we see it than have it fester underground. And it’s important we get it right. Otherwise we may not stay together at all.’

Well we didn’t all stay together – already Erie has broken away.

And what about the other big forces threatening Britain – the major corporations eg Shell (although Shell in my view is one of the more responsible ones)

December 17, 2013

Mary McAleese at the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Filed under: Europe, Ireland, Scotland, World Class — derryvickers @ 12:31 pm

What can I say – a tour de force – covering her life and Irish times over 50 years.
1 ½ hours non-stop.  No wonder she is an honorary fellow of the RSE.

From being born on the wrong side of the street in Belfast to taking a master’s degree in Catholic Canon Law in Rome and meeting the Pope, passing through on the way, graduating in law at Queens Belfast, Professor of Criminal Law at Trinity Dublin, back to Queens as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, deeply involved in the peace process and two terms as President of Ireland and bringing the Queen to Dublin.

Points she made:

  1. Daniel O’Connell her hero
  2. She chose Law rather than the IRA when her family was driven out of house and home by the B Specials.  Why Criminal Law – ‘don’t enjoy just do it’
  3. Moved to Dublin – expected to find the city of freedom at the end of the rainbow – everything sweetness and catholic light – wrong – Dublin was a place of elites – what’s new!
  4. While as Pro-vice Chancellor one of her tasks was to broaden the teaching base from protestant males to include Catholics and women – she succeeded with the Catholics but much less successful with the women
  5. She took time out to be a TV presenter on current affairs with RTV to get out and about away from Dublin from Kerry to Donegal.
  6. She recalls the 50 year celebrations of the battle of the Somme and the Easter uprising on the same day.  She makes the point that 250,000 Irishmen mainly Catholics fought with the Brits in WWI and 50,000 died and those who did return were outcasts.  Things are so much better now with Irish attending the Cenotaph.
  7. She is particularly caustic on ‘history’ – how it is manipulated to meet the required political standpoint.
  8. To the spade work before the Good Friday agreement she praises the work of a Catholic priest Alec Reid (who died in November) as the originator and go between, between Catholic and protestant fighters; fighters who realised that there were going to be no winners, only long term prisoners.  She also praises the leaders John Major and Albert Reynolds – leaders who had little ego to get in the way of doing business.  On the Irish side Jerry Adams was the man to bring the IRA on board ably supported by John Hume who for his troubles suffered the wrath of God from the SDLP.  A point worth noting in this media driven world, these talks were secret and had to be secret.
  9. As President she has entertained the Orange order.  She delights in the fact that the apprentice boy celebrations in Londonderry are now a carnival where everyone Catholics and Protestants joins in.  The killing of two policemen by the Real IRA did not cause an immediate response from the protestant gangs.  But she recognises that Belfast is at least as badly segregated as it ever was.
  10. And while she respects the Northern Irish right to their own homeland she is happy at some time in the future if they vote for a United Ireland
  11. She retold how she worked over a number of years to get the Queen to Dublin and how it all nearly fell apart when the arrangements were being finalised and the Irish parliament collapsed.  But in the end the 4 day event went ahead as a total success and the Queen came as equal and did honour to the Irish dead of so many years and particularly the Easter rising.
  12. The EU came up only once and that was that the EU was the only Union that Ireland had joined voluntarily!
  13. So to her current activity – the master’s degree in Canon Law.  Her interest is particularly in children’s rights.  She sees no women cardinals in her lifetime but recognises that Pope Francis brought a big spoon with him when he journeyed from Argentina.  However she laughs when he plans to convene a conference on family values in modern times composed of 200 celibate men!
  14. There was little time for questions and the one that got her going was one on the death of shipbuilding in Belfast and the Clyde.  40% of the young people in Europe are unemployed and as the old adage goes ‘Satan finds work for idle hands’.  With Belfast in the past it was the catholic youth who had no work – now it’s all youth.  In Ireland it’s back to the emigration from the short pause of the Celtic Tiger.  Youth require work and dignity.  She recalls a recent visit to the US where education is leaving young people with debts of $250,000 and no work at the end.  But she is not advocating an end to education.
  15. Towards the finish of her talk Mary McAleese repeatedly came back to the theme of good neighbours; England and Ireland and she did not forget to mention Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  It’s all matter of building bridges and this has to be taken calmingly and slowly – after all England has been holding Ireland down for hundreds of years.  She used the work incubation.

It was the first time I have been at the RSE where the proceedings finished with a standing ovation; and totally deserved.

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