Irlanda

Safety barriers to be erected at Kilmeen Cross in first quarter

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 18:36

Galway Bay fm newsroom:
Council officials have advised that safety barriers will be erected at Kilmeen Cross on the N65 in the first quarter of next year.
The local action group met with Loughrea area councillors and officials this week where the dangerous intersection was debated.
They presented a study which examined a rural junction on the N62 where traffic lights are in operation.
The group argues that lighting up the junction at Kilmeen Cross would be the safest option.
Group spokesperson Jackie Flannery says if lights can be installed at other rural intersections, there is no reason the TII can’t consider them at Kilmeen Cross.

The post Safety barriers to be erected at Kilmeen Cross in first quarter appeared first on Connacht Tribune.

Categorie: Irlanda

Rare freezing rain and black ice to batter UK

The Guardian - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 18:02

Met Office issues amber weather alert for widespread treacherous conditions

Christmas shoppers have been warned to take extra care on Saturday, with widespread heavy freezing rain expected to create hazardous conditions on the UK’s roads.

The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for parts of England and Scotland, highlighting the risk of rapidly forming ice on roads and pavements, while high ground in Scotland could face up to 40cm of snow.

Continue reading...
Categorie: Irlanda

NUIG researchers find low levels of pesticide exposure among horticulture workers

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 17:11

Galway Bay fm newsroom – Researchers from NUI Galway have found low pesticide exposure levels among professional horticultural workers.
The School of Physics at the university analysed 200 urine samples and the contribution skin contact and inadvertent ingestion makes to a worker’s total exposure.
They collected wipe samples from horticultural workers’ hands, the area around their mouth, their mobile phones and vehicle steering wheels.
The analysis shows low glyphosate exposure levels, but skin contamination on workers’ hands is the most signficant form of exposure.
Glyphosate is the highest volume herbicide used globally to control the growth of weeds and invasive species of plants.
Dr. Marie Coggins from NUIG’s School of Physics says despite low levels of pesticide exposure, it’s stil vital to wear protective equipment.
For more on this story tune in to FYI Galway@5…

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Categorie: Irlanda

Brexit, the Border and Partition – Part 1

Rebel - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 16:19
Kieran Allen, National Secretary of People Before Profit, has written a comprehensive pamphlet which seeks to look at the class dynamics that brought about Brexit and suggest policies that the Left should advocate in response. The pamphlet will be published in parts on Rebel, beginning here with part one.

A shadow has crept over Ireland – Brexit. It has brought worry, concern and even panic about the future. Sometimes the fear is induced and sometimes it is real. The withdrawal agreement drawn up between the EU and British negotiators may appear to offer some hope that there will not be a hard border. But it is not clear that Theresa May can secure enough support for such a deal. And if she did, it is still a transitional deal that lasts until, probably, 2022.

Those living in border counties are most affected. They have enjoyed nearly twenty years without customs posts, immigration officials or soldiers. That has meant free movement between the two states, but Brexit threatens that.

Throughout the island, there are real fears of the economic consequences if tariffs are erected between Ireland, Britain and the EU. Despite all the talk of globalisation, a significant part of the Irish economy is still interlinked with Britain. If tariffs are placed on Irish imports, fewer goods and services will be sold. The first to suffer will be the workers who produce them. Redundancies, short time and even more wage cuts could once again be the order of the day.

And then there is the situation of the Northern nationalist community. The last thing they want is a restoration of a physical border and a growing divergence between the North and South.

And it is not just nationalists. A majority of people – 56% in the North – voted against Brexit. Many who would designate themselves as ‘Other’ do not want to see a return to a border. Neither do liberal Unionists who have become used to travelling back and forth between Belfast and Dublin.

Since the last election, the Democratic Unionist Party have become kingmakers at Westminster. They have fallen out with May because they thought she did not do enough to strengthen partition. But they can just as easily go back into an alliance with their natural right wing friends. If the minority population is locked into a Northern state that is under the direct control of a Tory–DUP coalition at Westminster, many fear that sectarian bigotry will get a new lease of life.

There is also the small matter of border posts which could become the targets for paramilitary groups, thus starting a new cycle of violence.

No one can accurately predict the future, but there is a real basis for these fears. But whether they are real or imagined, the ruling class in both Britain and Ireland want to use Brexit for their own purposes, and, in order to do so, they will induce further fears to create a sense of crisis.

‘You never let a serious crisis go to waste,’ said the Chicago politician Rahm Emanuel. Elite politicians have taken it to heart ever since. In what Naomi Klein called the ‘shock doctrine’ effect, they use a crisis to get away with things they could not do before. You only need to think of how they used the 2008 crisis to raise the pension age, cut wages and target the young for reductions in social welfare.

The Tories in Britain and Fine Gael in Ireland are trying to use Brexit in a similar way.

The Tories want to project themselves as ardent British patriots who are holding back a tide of immigrants. Theresa May was so confident this strategy would work that she targeted safe Labour seats before the last election. Fortunately, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour prevented her from succeeding. In Ireland, Fine Gael are trying to use Brexit to rebrand themselves as owners of the green jersey. Varadkar presents himself as a man of destiny who is able, by clever diplomacy, to get the EU united behind the Irish interest. Foreign Minister Simon Coveney vaguely hints that the issue of partition might be reopened at this historic moment.

Behind this lofty rhetoric, there are real moves to use Brexit to further cut taxes on big business and limit wage rises.

The ruling class are supremely aware of their class interests and are very strategic about convincing the population to accept their interpretation of events.

It is not all plain sailing for the ruling class, however. Brexit has caused a deep political crisis for the establishment, opening up the possibility for progressive change in the process.

The Tories in London are tearing themselves apart; the last vestiges of the British empire are beginning to crumble; Corbyn’s Labour party is on the verge of power and more and more people are questioning the viability of partition in Ireland.

All of this is the result of Brexit. Indeed, had a Remain vote succeeded, it is likely that the Tory party would have remained united under David Cameron, the Blairites would have sought Jeremy Corbyn’s head in another leadership contest and the question of the viability of the UK would have been left for another day.

This means that the Left, not just the ruling class, can gain from this crisis. Here in Ireland, Brexit opens up the possibility for socialists to advocate for a radical new direction in politics, one that moves away from partition and control by the Tories, breaks with the neoliberalism enforced by the EU and fights for a new 32 county socialist Ireland that everyone on this island can have a stake in.

To do this, however, the Left must break from a fatalism that imagines the best we can do is side with either the Tories in London or the EU in Brussels. Working people on both sides of the border need to approach Brexit from the point of view of their own class interest. This means going beyond nationalist images which, in their latest guise, portray British people as all stupid racists or the EU as a haven of progressive liberalism. To paraphrase the great socialist James Connolly, we stand with neither London nor Brussels in the Brexit fight.

This pamphlet seeks to look at the class dynamics that brought about Brexit and to suggest policies that the Left should advocate in response.

The Tories and Brexit

The British Conservative Party were not always opposed to the EU. In the early 1970s, its Prime Minister Edward Heath enthusiastically supported Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. The Tory Conference, composed of ‘backwoods squires, retired businessmen, flogging colonels, flower hatted ladies from the women’s Institute, united in frenzied applause for Heath’s historic success in Brussels’.

Prior to the 2010 election, only six Conservative MPs publicly declared their support for leaving the EU. Boris Johnson even advocated Turkish entry to the EU.

Though a minority of Tories backed the Leave campaign in the referendum, the official line of the Conservative Party was to support remaining in the EU. Since then, Theresa May has switched sides, and her party has become an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit. To understand this change, you need to look at the decline of British capitalism and the desperado tactics of its ruling Tory Party.

Britain’s Role in the Global Economy

Britain is a substantial player within global capitalism. It is the sixth largest economy. However, it has been in long-term decline for some time.

In the nineteenth century, Britain was the workshop of the world, and, at its high point in the 1870s, capital invested per worker in UK manufacturing was approximately 10% higher than in the USA and 30% higher than in Germany. Westminster had brought the peripheral regions of Scotland, Wales and Ireland under its control. Britannia well and truly ruled the waves!

Over the next hundred years, however, Britain fell behind its imperial rivals. It fought two world wars to ward off Germany before finally accepting a more subservient role as the US ally. But this decline has accelerated since the 70s.

The British capitalist class have turned away from manufacturing and towards an economy heavily dependent on ‘financial services’.

Economists measure the level of investment through Gross Fixed Capital Formation. In Britain, this has declined from 24.5.% of GDP in 1989 to 16.8% in 2015. This is less than its rivals for the past two decades. By contrast, British companies pay out a higher level of dividends to their shareholders than most other countries. In other words, short-term
greed trumps long-term gains.

Not only is the level of investment low, but it is mainly flowing towards property and finance. For every pound British banks lent to manufacturers in 2014, they lent almost £36 to home buyers. Britain has become a service economy, with 80% of its exports coming from services. Financial services now represent 6% of Britain’s economy compared to just 10% for manufacturing. The near parity between the two sectors is in sharp contrast to Germany, where finance is only a fifth the size of its manufacturing sector, which represents 23% of its economy – more than twice the proportion of Britain.

The low level of investment and the shift to services helps to explain the low pay, precarious jobs market. The productivity of its workforce is relatively low – because of the lack of investment in machinery – and so, low wages have become the key driver of the economy. Michael Roberts describes the situation accurately:

British employers, rather than invest in new technology that could replace labour, have opted for ‘cheap unskilled labour’, both British and immigrant, with full knowledge that with little employment protection and weak trade union backing, they can hire and fire as they please.

The scale of the disaster facing British workers is enormous. Although Britain has full employment, real wages for the average household have fallen further and for longer than at any time since the great depression of the 1930s. A TUC report indicates that wages have stagnated for 17 years. They state that the current period of wage stagnation is the worst for two centuries. Not since the beginning of the the 18th century has it taken so long for real wages to recover from a slump.

An interim report from the IPPRC Commission on Economic Justice noted that:

The UK’s high employment rate has been accompanied by an increasingly insecure and casualised labour market. Fifteen percent of the workforce are now self-employed, with an increasing proportion in enforced self-employment driven by business seeking to avoid employer responsibilities. 6% are on short term contracts and  3% are on zero hour contracts. More workers are on lower pay than ten years ago. Insecure and low paid employment is increasing physical and mental ill-health.

The picture, of course, is not uniform. High salaries are being earned in financial services in London, but this has only added to severe regional disparities. All of this has huge political implications.

The Party of Big Business

The Conservative Party has long been the main party of big business. It was the natural, trusted leader of British capitalism and has held a hegemonic position over a substantial minority of British workers. It promised security, reasonable living standards and stability if the population stayed loyal to Queen and country. It was the party of the Union, upholding an imperial tradition that incorporated Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The downward trajectory of British capitalism is mirrored in the decline in size, confidence and coherence of the Tories. The Tories are an ageing, mainly male and thoroughly upper-class party. The over 65s, for example, constitute 44% of their membership. They have only a fraction of the membership of the Labour Party, with 100,000 members compared to Labour’s half a million.

Much of the Tory membership base lives off forms of rentier income. They want their dividends to flow in annually. They invest in the City of London and expect a regular income as their fund managers scour the world for profitable returns.

Initially, the EU proved to be a major boon for those who lived off finance. The City of London became the continent’s centre for ‘light regulation’ and tax dodging. Money from all over world flowed into the coffers of its finance houses, which were then able to ‘passport’ their services throughout the EU. Even financial deals conducted in the euro, a currency which Britain did not join, were ‘booked’ in London. About 70% of EU foreign exchange trading and 40% of global trading in euros took place in the UK. The City also hosted 85% of EU hedge fund assets and half of EU investment activity. Only a small cut flowed into the pockets of the local dealer, but as this came from a massive amount of financial activity, it was enough to featherbed them for life.

After the crash of 2008, however, other EU states increased pressure for greater regulation of finance. France began pushing for a clearing house within the eurozone for financial transactions conducted in that currency. This represented a threat for the City of London, but it was by no means a matter of life and death.

However, it fed into the rage and resentment of the Tory grassroots. The EU was already a kind of punch bag for their anger over Britain’s decline. The EU became a symbol of how ‘the foreigners’ were taking down Great Britain, and its ‘red tape’ was apparently strangling their entrepreneurial spirit. Some began to move over to UKIP. Others turned Tory local branches into fanatical eurosceptics.

In normal times, the capitalist class have a stable support base in a right-wing party that champions private property and the market. The big capitalists rarely involve themselves in day-to-day politics, but they draw on an activist base of small business elements, barristers, auctioneers, estate agents and the like who, most of the time, remain deferential and loyal to their big capitalist betters.

But in times of crisis, the easy fit between the economic elite and their political servants comes unstuck. The core base of right-wing parties sometimes revolt – by moving further right – and shout and scream for a return to ‘making Britain great again’.

This is exactly what happened within the British Tory party. The core of the ruling class wanted to remain in the EU. They knew that many of Britain’s export markets were in the EU and that the City of London – despite minor attempts to restrict its activities – was benefiting. The top brass of the civil service, of the army and of the political elite, also knew that Britain’s geo-political interests were best served by Remain.

But in post-austerity Britain, the chains that linked the ‘natural leaders’ of British capitalism to their petty bourgeois activist base snapped. The Eurosceptics consciously inter-mixed the lack of democracy in the EU with resentment against foreign migrant labour. To their own surprise, they won because this rhetoric connected with millions of workers who were fed up with low pay and insecurity. Workers wanted to give two fingers to the ‘establishment’, and they thought Leave was the best way to do it.

The person who most symbolises the ineptitude of the current political elite is Boris Johnson. This political adventurer aimed to lead the Tory party, and so he wrote two opinion pieces for the Daily Telegraph before the Brexit vote. One advocated Remain and the other Leave. In the end, he chose Leave – never imagining that he would have to carry it through. The game-playing of this ex-public school boy was symptomatic of a wider decay of his class.

There were legitimate reasons to vote Leave and, if allowed by his party, Jeremy Corbyn might have put them forward. But he was not. A left voice that was critical of the EU was barely heard, and what the British public got was a Tory Brexit, promoted by ageing, resentful fantasists with no strategy even for their own class.

This Tory Brexit will bring no benefit for workers. In the words of Jeremy Corbyn, ‘Britain would move into a low tax, bargain basement economy on the off-shores of Europe’. Once they leave the EU, the Tories will remove any restrictions on the City of London operating as a hub for global speculation. They will stage a race to the bottom on tax dumping – a move that will even undercut Dublin’s IFSC.

They aim for international trade deals that abolish any labour and environmental standards. Everything from antibiotic-and hormone-impregnated meat to unsafe chemicals will be allowed. Under the guise of even more free trade, they will cut back on ‘state aid’ and open up the NHS to American health providers.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the current upper class twit who leads the Brexiteers, has said that ‘the overwhelming opportunity for Brexit is over the next fifty years’. In other words, he is admitting there are no benefits for workers, contrary to the promises made during the referendum. Instead, empire nostalgia and the poison of racism will be used as the primary methods of rule.

In the Tory vision, not the slightest element of respect will be shown for the wishes of the majority of people in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Rees-Mogg’s claim that the Irish border will have to be ‘inspected’ for ‘gunrunning’ testifies not only to a deep ignorance but also to contempt for the concerns of the Irish people.

Given these developments, working people on both sides of the Irish border must prepare to defend their own interests from the consequences that flow from a Tory Brexit.

The post Brexit, the Border and Partition – Part 1 appeared first on REBEL.

Categorie: Irlanda

Application for geopark in North Connemara to be submitted to UNESCO by 2022

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 16:16

Galway Bay fm newsroom:
It’s hoped a full application will be made to UNESCO by 2021 or 2022 for a sustainable geopark in North Connemara and South Mayo.
The group leading the project presented the plan which aims to elevate Joyce Country to a UNESCO status geopark, according to Connemara Municipal District councillors this week.
The project emerged after it was identified that the rich geoheritage of the region could be a catalyst for broad-based enterprise and social development.
It aims to attract more visitors to the region, using the Gaeltacht area as its unique selling point and using surrounding towns such as Clifden, Headford, Oughterard, Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Wesport as gateways into the geopark.

Tune into the Galway Bay fm news for more on this story….

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Categorie: Irlanda

Theresa May says there will be further Brexit talks with the EU – Politics live

The Guardian - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 14:42

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments, as Tory backbench anger simmers after EU warns deal ‘not open for negotiation’

1.31pm GMT

Lisa O’Carroll, the Guardian’s Brexit correspondent was watching the press conference.

NEW: Theresa May says reports that talks been closed down at the EU are not true
"been reporting that the EU is not willing to provide any further clarification ... but [following talks this morning] further discussion is in fact possible"

MAY ON THAT JUNCKER EXCHANGE
"I had a robust discussion with JC Juncker... What came out of that was his clarity was that when he had been talking and used that phrase he was talking about a general level of debate."

Daily Mail: What’s been more difficult - the malcontents at home or the Eurobullies?
May: It's a job for delivering the vote for the referendum..I never said it was going to be easy. Negotiations like this always tough.. and as you get towards the v end, things can get more diff

1.28pm GMT

May tells the Sun that the government has stepped up its no-deal preparations, but that she thinks it’s better to leave with a good deal and that what she has secured is a good deal.

The Daily Mail’s Jason Groves says it looks like May has had a tiring week. “Why, what’s happened this week?” she responds. She says negotiations like this are always tough and get more difficult as they near a conclusion. May says she is driven by a sense that “this is what’s right for the British people”.

1.25pm GMT

She says it was clear from other European leaders that they wanted to get the deal “over the line”.

May tells the Times that we have had the clearest statement yet from the EU that the backstop is only intended to be temporary and that they want to negotiate a trade deal quickly.

PM:
- I had a robust discussion with Jean Claude-Juncker
- When he said "nebulous" Juncker had been talking about a general level of debate
- Further clarification available. We will be working expeditiously over the coming days

1.23pm GMT

May says she had “a robust” discussion with Juncker and that when he used the term “nebulous” he was talking about the “general level of debate”.

1.22pm GMT

May has started speaking in Brussels. You can watch the live stream here.

She says it is in the overwhelming interest of everybody - in the EU and the UK - to get this done as quickly as possible.

1.18pm GMT

Worth noting while we wait for May’s press conference, that Jean-Claude Juncker didn’t just announce that she would have to come back another day to Brussels with a less “nebulous” roadmap for Brexit.

He also announced no-deal operations will be published in full next Wednesday, about a month before originally envisaged.

12.42pm GMT

Brexit correspondent Lisa O’Carroll has been reacting to the Times’ story that European leaders decided at a dinner last night not to provide any “political comfort” to May.

If the point of the Brussels' position is to make sure everyone in Westminster feels the "bleak midwinter", then minds will be further concentrated next Wednesday (last night Brussels also said it would spell out no deal plans on 19 dec)

12.26pm GMT

It was only a matter of time … Channel 5 News has employed “two expert lip readers” to tell it what we had all worked out for ourselves – that Theresa May accused Jean-Claude Juncker of describing her as “nebulous” during the heated exchange captured on camera this morning.

NEW - Two expert lipreaders tell 5 News that Theresa May accuses Jean-Claude Juncker of describing her as nebulous.

This is how the conversation went, according to the lipreaders: pic.twitter.com/IuP99fJiXG

12.23pm GMT

The Times has been told that European leaders decided last night not to help Theresa May sell her Brexit deal to parliament.

British negotiators had agreed a draft statement with the most senior EU officials that would have provided “political comfort” to Mrs May that the bloc was prepared to compromise on the Irish backstop. At a dinner last night, held without her, European leaders went back on the joint agreement in order to send a message to MPs that no further concessions would be forthcoming from Brussels.

“To use a Christmas theme, we want all parties and factions in the British parliament to feel the bleak midwinter,” said a senior EU source.

12.01pm GMT

Theresa May is due to give a press conference from Brussels at midday, though it looks like it is delayed.

Theresa May press conference delayed because EU leaders are still in session. No revised timings as yet.

11.53am GMT

The Mirror is reporting that Westminster bridge has been blocked by pro-Brexit protesters wearing yellow vests. The Metropolitan police confirmed they were aware of the protest and said there had not been any arrests.

Transport for London tweeted: “Buses serving routes via Westminster Bridge Road may be delayed because of a demonstration which is blocking the road.”

BREAKING Westminster Bridge blocked by pro-Brexit yellow vest protestershttps://t.co/wEVzMR3OW7 pic.twitter.com/KskcvCFxF6

11.42am GMT

This from David Phinnemore, a professor of European politics at Queen’s university in Belfast, provides a useful analysis on how “the Irish question” came to dominate the Brexit process.

"By the time referendum result came in, Kenny and his team had already honed a message for their European allies: for you, this might be about market access, but for us, it’s about peace.. The British, who’d barely considered the issue, seemed unprepared"https://t.co/kMK0dQV40E

11.34am GMT

Here is that footage of May and Juncker in a “frosty exchange”.

Update. Several of us think she's saying "NEBULOUS" - the word JCJ used to describe the UK's position last night. Still just a guess, though. https://t.co/VL6a19ZOBg

11.21am GMT

It’s Frances Perraudin here, taking over from Ben Quinn for a few hours.

Tony Blair has started speaking at a People’s Vote event at the Royal Academy in London. The Tony Blair Institute Twitter account is tweeting extracts of the speech.

Tony Blair: To state the obvious – the country is in crisis. And we are suffering. The Government is preoccupied by Brexit to the exclusion of all else when so much else requires urgent attention. The nation is bitterly divided. pic.twitter.com/TeeHV0RXBF

Tony Blair: “Over the last 30 months it has become apparent that the 45 years of British membership of the EU has intertwined us with Europe in ways which make disentangling us, hideously complex.” pic.twitter.com/EC4vCNyLPQ

Tony Blair: “What has been revealed by the whole negotiation process is that all the Brexit options have significant drawbacks compared with staying in the EU.

This pursuit of incompatible ends through inept means has led us to the present impasse.”

10.54am GMT

Only one obstacle is preventing May from winning Tory backing for her Brexit deal, writes Paul Goodman in a piece on the influential Conservative Home website, in which he imagines that the backstop was radically amended so that a “unilateral exit” mechanism was included.

For now, however, he concludes:

Her deal and the backstop march together in step. And admittedly, even with a right to unilateral exit, this government would be unlikely to exercise it if no deal waited on the other side of the door.

Nonetheless, that exit would be there – which, ultimately, is what matters. We’ve said before that Brexit isn’t a still photo, but a moving film – or should be. Where Britain will be on day one isn’t where we will be in year ten. The backstop freezes that film and prevents it from playing. Provide a sure means of escape from it, and the film begins to roll. And May’s deal thus becomes acceptable.

10.47am GMT

The DUP leader is on Twitter with a “we told you so” statement aimed squarely at the prime minister.

The Prime Minister has promised to get legally binding changes. The reaction by the EU is unsurprising. They are doing what they always do. The key question is whether the PM will stand up to them or whether she will roll over as has happened previously. pic.twitter.com/h0UcxLqXj9

10.37am GMT

You had almost forgotten about the Democratic Unionist party (DUP), hadn’t you? Its leader, Arlene Foster, has been talking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, and it looks like May really has an uphill struggle to get the party back on board in terms of providing any parliamentary support.

Arlene Foster- ‘Key question is whether the PM will stand up to them or whether she will roll over as has happened previously. This is a difficulty of the PM’s own making. A deal was signed off which the PM should have known would not gain the support of Parliament. ‘

10.30am GMT

Despite the pictures of May remonstrating with Juncker, No 10 tried to sound a diplomatic tone this morning, arguing there was still time for the “dust to settle” and that there was a range of briefings emerging from EU leaders and officials.

The prime minister is due to give a press conference at lunchtime to respond to last night’s EU rebuff.

10.23am GMT

Here’s a clip of Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker having what appears to be a less than cordial exchange this morning before the opening of the summit’s latest session. It’s really set tongues wagging in Brussels.

This doesn't exactly look like an exchange of pleasantries between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker as the Brexit summit gets underway. #EUCO pic.twitter.com/l0r4NwDj8h

9.55am GMT

Here’s the Irish taoiseach speaking on his arrival this morning in Brussels, via a tweet from Sky’s Mark Stone (that sound you might hear in the background is the grinding of Conservative MPs’ teeth):

The Irish Prime Minister @campaignforleo speaks on his arrival at day two of the EU summit - he says he is “very satisfied” with how things went last night. That means the backstop is firmly still in place with no time limit. pic.twitter.com/T943QV1dDS

9.49am GMT

In other non-Brexit news (yes, it exists), Politics Home reports that the former head of the House of Commons standards and privileges committee “angrily confronted” Jeremy Corbyn after Labour blocked the appointment of its own MP Jess Phillips to the watchdog.

PoliticsHome reported last month that the Birmingham Yardley MP had been nominated by Labour to take a seat on the committee, with the appointment even appearing on the House of Commons order paper on 19 November.

9.44am GMT

Fresh from his spat with fellow members of England’s 1986 World Cup squad, BBC Sport host Gary Lineker has now been criticised by his colleague Jonathan Agnew for expressing his political views on Twitter.

The former England football captain, who hosts the BBC’s flagship Match of the Day programme, has been outspoken in his political opinions, in particular his opposition to Brexit, which he regularly tweets about. Lineker also appeared at a rally in London campaigning for a second referendum in November.

@GaryLineker Gary. You are the face of BBC Sport. Please observe BBC editorial guidelines and keep your political views, whatever they are and whatever the subject, to yourself.

I’d be sacked if I followed your example. Thanks.

9.34am GMT

Today’s bilateral between May and Macron – which is still going on – is particularly key given that France is one of the countries pushing hard against the prime minister’s idea of having a 12-month time limit on any Irish backstop.

A grim-sounding No 10 official tried to remain upbeat in briefings, according to the Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh.

9.25am GMT

The Labour party is floating proposals today to break up the big four accounting firms.

The party has commissioned a report which also proposes capping the firms’ share of the audit market at 50% of the largest listed companies.

Professor Sikka’s full independent report on reforming the accountancy sector with all of its recommendations is available at:https://t.co/XKGiDESDGS

9.15am GMT

Parliament’s Twitter account tweets a reminder of today’s historic significance:

100 years ago today a general election was held that represented a shift in British politics - women could be elected as MPs for the first time. It was also the first general election where some women and all men over 21 could vote. Equal voting rights wouldn't be won until 1928 pic.twitter.com/tEE41J84zY

9.09am GMT

Theresa May is now meeting the french president, Emmanuel Macron, according to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Meanwhile, the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, appears to be continuing to shore up support for Ireland’s position:

With @HMcEntee meeting @antoniocostapm at the start of the second day of @EUCouncil. Portugal has been very good ally to Ireland in Europe and on #Brexit pic.twitter.com/WyN0UGL4h6

8.59am GMT

Arriving for the second day of the summit, the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, said he does not expect a special Brexit summit in January to agree a way forward. He said they now need the British parliament to back the deal agreed with May.

We need a positive vote from the British parliament, not a summit. We want a vote. We need a vote from the British Parliament to continue.

We very much hope this will be a positive vote. We count on that.

I know there was in the room a strong willingness to offer something, but at the same time it would put, most probably, into question the backstop for Ireland.

It was almost an impossible situation and technically speaking there was not an easy way out.

8.58am GMT

The Croatian prime minister has just arrived for today’s summit discussions, saying “the ball is in the UK’s court”.

Sounds like there might be a few contenders to do something about that, namely warring members of England’s 1986 World Cup football squad.

squad line up lads - live debate ? @bbcquestiontime @GaryLineker @chriswaddle93 @reid6peter https://t.co/jh2bs8BEh3

8.47am GMT

Tony Blair has made a fresh pitch this morning for a new referendum on Brexit, predicting there will be a majority soon in parliament for such a poll.

Apppearing on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme before a speech in which he will say that Europe will be “significantly weaker” at a time of global geopolitical competition from China and other countries, the former prime minister sketched out how he believed the EU could lay the ground for a new referendum.

8.20am GMT

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has weighed in this morning with her conclusion on last night’s events in Brussels:

PM has tried, credit to her for that, but, as expected, the EU is not open to renegotiation. It’s time to stop this pretence, bring the vote to Parliament and then, when the deal is rejected, seek to bring majority behind a second EU vote. Anything else now is just wasting time. https://t.co/a7qIpjtWgE

8.17am GMT

Back in the UK, Conservative civil war continues. The Times reports that the Conservative party is facing an irrevocable split over Brexit. It says:

Some MPs from the European Research Group (ERG), a Brexiteer faction, were said to be threatening to go “on strike” until there was a change of leader.

Under the plan those MPs would fail to vote on some legislation, to prove that Mrs May cannot command a majority in the Commons.

Despite publicly supporting the prime minister, ministers believe the prime minister has been left significantly “weakened” by the vote of confidence in which 117 MPs called for her to go.

8.08am GMT

A good explanation of where things are at – and some rather pointed criticism of Theresa May – can be found in this thread by Ole Ryborg, the EU correspondent in Brussels for Danish Radio and Television.

It contains quotes from the Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who recalls when Danes and Irish voters opposed EU treaties in previous referendums, adding: “In both countries someone took the responsibility on them to decide what to do.”

Danish Prime Minister @larsloekke say that it is now up to the House of Commons to define what the UK actually want 1/4 #euco #eudk #Brexit

Understand that , under questioning from EU 27 leaders, one of Theresa May's responses was "Brexit means Brexit."

Jeez.

8.03am GMT

Eurozone reform will be the first item on the agenda when the EU’s leaders gather again this morning at the European Council summit, reports the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief, Dan Boffey, who adds:

But they won’t be able to avoid questions about what went wrong for Theresa May last night. The prime minister had made an impassioned appeal to the 27 heads of state and government before their dinner.

She had called for them to put faith in her one last time to get a Brexit deal through parliament.

8.00am GMT

EU leaders are due to start arriving for the second day of the summit in Brussels for a session which starts in around an hour.

There’s going to be a press conference by the European council president, Donald Tusk, and the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as one by May. Timings are hazy at the moment but they’re expected shortly after lunchtime.

7.50am GMT

The job of flying the flag for Theresa May’s tattered attempts to seek changes to the Brexit withdrawal deal has fallen this morning to her de factor deputy, David Lidington.

Gamely, he has just told the BBC’s Today Programme that last night was a “welcome first step”, with the removal of any doubt about the intentions of the other EU states to negotiate a free-trade deal with the UK speedily.

7.50am GMT

Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s politics live blog. I’m Ben Quinn and, as usual, we’ll be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web.

Theresa May will be returning to the UK later today to face the continued wrath of Tory backbenchers, 117 of whom opposed her in a vote of confidence on Wednesday, after EU leaders delivered a devastating knockback to her in Brussels last night.

Our UK friends need to say what they want, rather than asking what we want. We would like in a few weeks for our UK friends to set out their expectations because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications.

Continue reading...
Categorie: Irlanda

It’s hoped a full application will be made to UNESCO by 2021 or 2022 for a sustainable geopark in North Connemara and South Mayo. The group leading the project presented the plan which aims to elevate Joyce Country to a UNESCO status geopark, to...

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 14:31

Galway Bay fm newsroom – It’s hoped a full application will be made to UNESCO by 2021 or 2022 for a sustainable geopark in North Connemara and South Mayo.
The group leading the project presented the plan which aims to elevate Joyce Country to a UNESCO status geopark, to Connemara Municipal District councillors this week.
The project emerged after it was identified that the rich geoheritage of the region could be a catalyst for broad-based enterprise and social development.
It aims to attract more visitors to the region, using the Gaeltacht area as its unique selling point and using surrounding towns such as Clifden, Headford, Oughterard, Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Wesport as gateways into the geopark.
Obtaining a geopark status would mean Joyce Country would have equal status to World Heritage sites but would not carry any legislative weight or impose restrictions on people, landowners or industry.
Board member, Dominic Ó Moráin says a a feasibility study is being finalised examining a number of details.

The post It’s hoped a full application will be made to UNESCO by 2021 or 2022 for a sustainable geopark in North Connemara and South Mayo. The group leading the project presented the plan which aims to elevate Joyce Country to a UNESCO status geopark, to Connemara Municipal District councillors this week. The project emerged after it was identified that the rich geoheritage of the region could be a catalyst for broad-based enterprise and social development. It aims to attract more visitors to the region, using the Gaeltacht area as its unique selling point and using surrounding towns such as Clifden, Headford, Oughterard, Ballinrobe, Castlebar and Wesport as gateways into the geopark. Obtaining a geopark status would mean Joyce Country would have equal status to World Heritage sites but would not carry any legislative weight or impose restrictions on people, landowners or industry. Board member, Dominic Ó Moráin says a a feasibility study is being finalised examining a number of details:to be submitted to UNESCO by 2022 appeared first on Connacht Tribune.

Categorie: Irlanda

HSE to work with Galway Autism Partnership to secure vital funding

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 13:07

Galway Bay fm newsroom – The HSE is to work with Galway Autism Partnership to ensure the charity can keep operating.
The community-based group was set up in 2011 and provides supports and services to autistic people and their families in the city and county.
GAP says despite huge fundraising efforts, it needs 75 thousand euro more to continue on a sustainable basis.
Tune in to Galway Bay fm news to hear more….

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City officials urged to extend bike scheme

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 12:00

Galway Bay fm newsroom – City officials have been urged to expand the bike scheme to areas where people ‘want’ to use it.
The matter was raised at City Hall where councillor Pearce Flannery raised a motion to have the Coke Zero scheme expanded to Salthill and Knocknacarra by May 2019.
Officials advised that eight new stations were introduced last year, leading to a 75 percent increase in trips.
Tune in to Galway Bay fm news for more details….

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Traffic lights at Headford Road following burst watermain

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 11:11

Galway Bay fm newsroom – Temporary traffic lights have been installed at Headford Road, just outside the city due to a burst watermain.
The lights are located opposite Sceilig Ard near Ballinfoyle Mews.
Works are currently underway to fix the watermain but no timeline has yet been given for the route to be cleared.
Motorists are advised to avoid Headford Road while works are being carried out

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Renovation plan for Salmon Weir bridge to be unveiled early in new year

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 10:00

Galway Bay fm newsroom – The CEO of Galway City Council says a definitive announcement regarding Salmon Weir Bridge will be made early in the new year.
The iconic structure is almost 200 years old and is heavily traversed by cars and pedestrians.
Tune in to Galway Bay fm news for more details….

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Categorie: Irlanda

Galway League advance in Oscar Traynor

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 09:16

Galway League 2

Limerick League 0

Two second-half goals eased Galway past Limerick in Eamonn Deacy Park on Wednesday night and in the process set them up for a home Oscar Traynor Cup quarter-final tie against the Inishowen League in the New Year.

Having drawn 3-3 with the Clare League at the weekend, Victor Collins’ charges knew that a win or a draw against the visitors would be enough for them to advance from the group as either winners or runners up, with the home game the top prize for the winners.

Collins made two changes to the selection that started against Clare, with Tommy Walsh coming in at the back, while Ronan Caldwell got the nod in attack.

The opening half was short of inspiration on a cold and wet night on the Dyke Road, but the home side turned matters their way with two late goals. The opener on 81 minutes was set up by a clearance by goalkeeper TJ Forde, when a poor defensive header by the visitors Thomas Clarke only succeeded in setting up substitute Enda Curran and the striker availed of the gift to make it 1-0 from close range.

The home side had numerous opportunities to make matters much more comfortable for themselves earlier in the tie, but Ronan Caldwell and Shane Concannon were guilty of some poor finishing from close range; before Mikey Gallagher and Curran combined to set up Darren Creaven for a tap in past John Mulready to make it 2-0 and settle the contest in additional time.

Galway League: Forde, Greaney, O’Riordan, O’Rourke, Walsh, Kinneen (Finnerty), Molloy (Gallagher), Collins, Concannon (Curran), Shaughnessy (Broghall), Caldwell (Creaven).

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and  county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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“France is the stronghold of rugby and it’ll be good to play over there”

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 09:10

Gavin Thornbury’s career trajectory was very much on an upward curve earlier this Summer.

The Dublin-born lock forward, with strong Galway roots, had caught the eye of Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt, while donning the green jersey of Connacht and earned a call-up to Summer international training camp.

“Obviously, it was a massive honour,” he says of being drafted into the Ireland senior squad for the first time.

It was “a massive learning experience”, says Thornbury; and by all accounts, the 25-years-old was in line to for inclusion in the November test series’ squad, with the possibility of a first international cap. Then, disaster struck.

Thornbury damaged his shoulder against Scarlets in the Sportsground in late September, which side-lined him for the crucial eight weeks’ window around the Autumn internationals. “I don’t think there’s any good time to get injured but, yeah, it was pretty devastating,” he admits.

“Thankfully, I deal with superb physios and strength and conditioning staff, and they got me back as quick as possible and I’m feeling really good now and hopefully the injuries are behind me for the rest of the season.”

Thornbury hasn’t heard from Schmidt since camp but confirms he’s “delighted to be back playing” after the lengthy injury lay-off, and is firmly focusing on re-establishing the form with Connacht that got him noticed by the New Zealander in the first place.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and  county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Categorie: Irlanda

Gaming company contests injunction preventing dismissal of Galway executive

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 09:00

Galway Bay fm newsroom – Gaming company EA is contesting an injunction granted last week over the dismissal of one of its executives based in Galway.
The staff member was dismissed for allegedly making an inappropriate remark to a female colleague based in the U.S.
An injunction was granted to 56 year old Philippe Grenet over his dismissal as director of global delivery service for EA Ireland.
According to today’s Irish Times, he admits he used a clumsy, ill-advised expression relating to male genitalia to convey that he didn’t want to challenge his colleague about a work matter.
Tune into Galway Bay fm news for more details….

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Categorie: Irlanda

Work to begin on revamp of Galway’s pedestrian zone

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 07:05

Galway City Tribune – The multi-million euro ‘phased revamp’ of the city’s pedestrianised zone – due to begin early in the New Year – has the potential to transform the ‘centre of town’ into a 21st century urban showpiece.

That’s the pledge given by City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, to councillors this week after plans were unveiled for phase one of the pedestrian area rehabilitation project.

“This is a wonderfully exciting project that can transform the city centre into a 21st century urban showpiece. Once we get this job done, the potential is there, to put the pieces in place to further enhance this area.

“We will be looking at things like signage, street furniture, LED lighting that can change with the seasons, and solar-powered phone chargers,” said Mr McGrath.

The Shop Street section of the project is to start in late January 2019 and be completed by the following Easter (mid-April), but councillors did warn that mistakes of the past – such as the Eyre Square revamp – should not be repeated.

“Eyre Square started off at €3.2m in 2004 and ended up costing us €15.2m,” said Cllr Pádraig Conneely. The project is due to be completed in 2021.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the revamp plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Categorie: Irlanda

Consultations on future of city’s Ceannt Quarter

Connacht Tribune - Ven, 14/12/2018 - 07:04

More than 170 students, members of special interest groups and business leaders took part in two days of public consultation with the developers of the Ceannt Station lands before design plans are drawn up for the new urban quarter.

The Galway City Development Plan stipulates that the eight-acre Ceannt Station site owned by CIE should only be developed after extensive public consultations.

Those were held on two days last week at Tribeton on Merchants Road where proceedings kicked off with Transition Year students from the Jes, the Bish, St Mary’s and Our Lady’s College.

“This plan for Ceannt is going to be the future for the city so we thought it appropriate to invite students in to have a say about what their city will look like in 20 years,” said a spokesperson for Edward Capital, the company owned by developer Gerry Barrett which was selected in a tendering process to build the €450 million project.

Groups such as the Galway Environmental Network and Friends of Merlin Woods attended in the afternoon to give their views on the nature of the development. The following day, various stakeholders, neighbours and business organisations such as the Galway Chamber of Commerce, the Galway City Business Association and the Harbour Company were invited to outline what they believe should be included and excluded on the site.

“What was clear from the feedback was the need for residential in the city centre. This is essentially a new neighbourhood. There has to be 30% residential under the planning laws and the City Development Plan – that could be 400 residential units in the form of apartments, houses, flats – that’s all still to be decided,” the spokesperson stated.

“Traffic kept coming up, an issue as we all know. The height and how high it should be was another one.”
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and details on the consultation days, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Categorie: Irlanda