Political Action / Freedom For All of Ireland

Committee Chairman
Bill O'Neill, Div 17
woneill11680@comcast.net

Political Education Report for November AOH Allegheny County Board

A.

NI-ROI economic links to be examined by think tank project

 

Two leading think tanks have started a project to improve understanding of the economic links between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It could be used to inform the debate about the potential economic consequences of a united Ireland.

 

the intention is to "put the best information possible into the public arena" to inform public debate and political decisions.

The project also aims to link the Northern Ireland model with model of the Irish economy,

This should lead to a better understanding of how policies in each of those economies will impact Northern Ireland.

 

I think this would help when it came time to have a Border Poll.  Help convince everyone on the island that a United Ireland could work.

 

B.

Escalation in Loyalist violence as second bus in a week is hijacked and set on fire

A BUS was hijacked and destroyed in the Newtownabbey area of North Belfast the other night after four masked men boarded the vehicle and ordered passengers and the driver to disembark.

The incident took place near the Valley Leisure Centre on Church Rd at around 19:45 on Sunday evening, though police have been keen to stress that nobody was injured.

It comes a mere six days after two armed men boarded a bus in Newtownards, Co Down, and set it alight on the morning of Monday 1 November.

The Local DUP leader said “The ringleaders should step back. Change is brought about by politics not by burning buses.”

C.

The National Hibernian Digest – Political Education Chair, Neil Cosgrove in his article commented about the letter by congressmen Boyle and Fitzpatrick to the British prime minster. .

He thanked the effort of some of our brothers, citing the letter was sent with 36 signatures.  Saying it sent a powerful message in the cause of justice and the AOH played a vital role.

But he cited that if we were given a honest report card on the effort, he said that report card would say “must do better”  thirty six signatures represents only 8 percent of the congress.

In closing his report he said when we see a call to action please participate.

D.

Keeping his comments in mind, I saw in the Belfast Telegraph today that

Twenty-one members of the US Congress are asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken to issue a public statement of opposition to the UK Government’s proposed Troubles amnesty.

The Congress men and women, led by Richard Neale — chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee —  have written to Mr. Blinken outlining their demands.

 The Congress members’ letter states: “The UK Government plans for dealing with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland will close all paths to justice for victims denying them the truth, justice and accountability to which they are entitled.

“It is clear the UK Government’s primary motivation is to ensure security forces are placed beyond accountability for the human rights abuses committed during the ‘Troubles’.

I contacted Congressman Doyle Tuesday after noon before leaving work asking if he was aware of the letter and is he one of the 26?   Also contacted Guy Reschenthaler office.

So keep a look out for a call to action about this letter from Danny O.

Thanksgiving is not officially celebrated in Ireland, but there's such a strong connection between Ireland and the USA that some hotels and restaurants do offer a Thanksgiving dinner.

 

 

Respectfully Submitted

Bill O’Neill

Allegheny County Political Education Chair

POLITICAL ACTION REPORT OCTOBER 21, 2021

Brexit: What is Article 16 and what exactly does it say?

The UK's leaders said that using Article 16 may be the only way to bring about changes to the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Lord Frost said the Northern Ireland Protocol - put in place to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland - was "not working and needs to change".

Lord Frost said triggering Article 16, which would suspend part of the deal, may end up as "the only way" forward.

We all want a United Ireland, but we do not want the citizens of N.I. to suffer from shortages of food and goods to make them hold a favorable border vote.  If the EU and UK don’t solve the border problem the population is going to suffer, and there may be a return to sectarian violence.

What is Article 16?

As we all know In October 2019, the UK and EU agreed a special Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, known as the protocol.

It leaves Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods.

That means that goods can flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, removing the threat of a "hard border".

However goods arriving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would now be subject to checks and control.

This arrangement is referred to as the Irish Sea border.

Article 16 of the protocol sets out the process for taking unilateral "safeguard" measures if either the EU or UK concludes that the operation of the deal is leading to serious problems.

Those safeguards would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

What exactly does Article 16 say?

Safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious "economic, societal or environmental difficulties" that are liable to persist.

So, while it is not intended to be used for temporary or minor problems there is no specific guidance on what qualifies as a "serious" difficulty.

Additionally, it can be used if the protocol is leading to "diversion of trade", but again there is no guidance on how exactly that should be interpreted.

The UK government says that, in its opinion, the threshold has been reached for using Article 16, but it is choosing not to use them for now.

So one of the recent problems has been about the supermarket supply chains across all foodstuffs which is the vast majority of the checks required under the protocol.  The EU is proposing a package of changes that would ease the transit of goods from UK into N.I. especially food

The checks required for British goods destined for Northern Ireland and staying there, consumed there, would be dropped if proper sharing of data and labelling was adopted.

The EU proposals would also make it "crystal clear" that there would be no barriers to medicines coming into Northern Ireland from Britain and that the Brussels would effectively change EU law to solve this problem.

Customs controls would also be significantly reduced for goods that traders can show are staying in Northern Ireland.

The EU agrees that in some respects the operation of the protocol is causing difficulties for Northern Ireland.

This is a major intervention by the European Commission and a very genuine effort to try to resolve the concerns that many people in Northern Ireland have expressed.

Can the whole deal be suspended?

The text of Article 16 says any measures should be restricted in both scope and duration and limited to what is "strictly necessary" in order to solve the problems.

Additionally, it says that priority shall be given to measures that will "least disturb" the functioning of the protocol.

Negotiations would continue, with any safeguards being jointly reviewed every three months with a view to their abolition or limitation.

A month's formal notice is supposed to be given before any action is taken, although immediate action is allowed in "exceptional circumstances".

Respectfully Submitted;

Bill O’Neill

Political Action Report March 18, 2021

 

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed support on Wednesday for the Good Friday Agreement and said political stability in Northern Ireland is critically important as he marked St. Patrick's Day with a virtual meeting with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.

I hope all members of the AOH in Allegheny Co. responded to President O’Connell’s request to contact their Senators in favor to the U.S. Senators to sign on to the Senate Resolution demonstrating U.S. support for the Good Friday Agreement.

 

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement’s:  Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland – Article 16

The protocol was a resolution to the sticky Irish border question and was designed to avoid a return of checkpoints along the politically sensitive frontier and minimize potential disruption of cross-border trade. 

Article 16 provides both the UK and the EU with a unilateral power to take action should the application of the Protocol give rise to ‘serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade.’

However, amid a row over vaccine delivery shortfalls, the EU has invoked article 16 of the NI protocol which allows the EU or UK to unilaterally suspend aspects of its operations if either side considers that aspect to be causing “economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

Specialized Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

This committee is one of six UK-EU committees set up by the Withdrawal Agreement to manage the implementation of different parts of that agreement, also including citizens’ rights and the financial settlement. The committee on the Northern Ireland protocol oversees UK plans to implement customs procedures on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as health, regulatory and other checks. Another important task for the committee is to determine which goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are considered ‘at risk’ of entering the EU and therefore subject to tariffs and more stringent checks.

In summary, we should continue to be watchful on the use of this Article 16, especially on how it is used, or not used in regards to “Citizens Rights” in the fair treatment of the people of Northern Ireland.

Respectfully Submitted

Bill O’Neill

Political Action Report January 21, 2021

 

Thousands of bereaved demand full investigation into Northern Ireland conflict

 Some 3,500 relatives of people killed during the Northern Ireland conflict have urged the British and Irish governments to fully investigate the decades of violence.

They are seeking the long-delayed establishment of an independent team of detectives to pursue fresh prosecutions and other measures to recover information about what happened.

The families have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish premier Micheal Martin calling for action awaited since a major political agreement in 2014.

“The peace process has repeatedly failed to deliver on our rights to truth, justice and accountability.”

The letter will appear in newspapers in Belfast and the US.

More than 3,600 people were killed and thousands injured during republican and loyalist violence and in some cases through the actions of the police and British Army.

The Government has pledged to “intensify” engagement with victims’ groups in addressing the legacy of the past.

The system for releasing Troubles-related information is not working and the “divisive” cycle of reinvestigations and civil action is failing to obtain answers for most families, ministers have said.

Without renewed focus on information recovery the prospect of securing convictions dwindles.

Arrangements were agreed by the UK and Irish governments and a majority of Stormont’s main parties in 2014.

The Northern Ireland Secretary has proposed that after a paper review exercise, most unsolved cases would be closed and a new law would be enacted to prevent the investigations from being reopened.

Mark Thompson, chief executive of Belfast-based lobby group Relatives for Justice, said about half of those who signed the open letter are 35 years and under.

This represents the current and future generations and underlines the ongoing trauma and intergenerational impact that the killing of a relative has also had on surviving families.

It’s also a clear indication that the past is ever-present and speaks to a determination, now more than at other time, that following human rights violations the human rights of victims must frame how we address the past. 

  The position remains at stalemate. This is deeply unfair to the surviving victims of the Troubles for whom a pension has been legislated but not delivered.

Article is from the Northern Ireland  - News and Star.

 

Respectfully Submitted

Bill O’Neill