A pedestrian walked last year past a billboard in west Belfast erected by Sinn Féin, calling for a special status for northern Ireland with respect to Brexit. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

If anyone needs tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season, it is the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland. The unique challenges posed by the Irish border vexed more than 18 months of Brexit negotiations and could still scupper a deal. As the end game nears, the peace process is not a price worth paying.

When Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1921, the six northern counties comprising Northern Ireland remained part of the union. Its status has remained contested — with more than 3,600 killed during decades of violence known as the Troubles — between the Protestant and predominantly unionist community, and the Catholic and largely nationalist one.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, some video footage went viral in Ireland of a group of English men verbally abusing young women at a Dublin housing crisis protest. The men, it turned out, were part of a bachelor party who had come from Bristol and seemed to be dressed intentionally to look like a cartoon of landed gentry, in tweeds and the loudly colored trousers widely beloved by braying men of a certain kind.

It would have been a strange incident in any case, these English men who look like relics of the landlord class shouting at young Irish people rendered desperate because of skyrocketing rents, but it was to become more absurd still.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters against clerical sexual child abuse in Ireland, at a rally in Dublin on Sunday.CreditCreditPaulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

On Sunday, while the faithful gathered for mass with Pope Francis in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, a large group gathered in the city’s Garden of Remembrance at an event called Stand for Truth. The railings had been hung with dozens of tiny pairs of baby shoes.

Colm O’Gorman, who runs the Irish office of Amnesty International, organized the event. He told the crowd that he had been 13 years old, and deeply religious, when Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 — the last time a pope visited Ireland. “I was in a liturgical group,” he said. “The church was in every part of my life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sun setting behind a power station in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Getty Images.

Ireland currently has an €8 billon national investment fund with an estimated €300 million invested in fossil fuel shares. Under the bill, the government will be required to sell its investments in fossil fuels. How significant is this in terms of Ireland’s stocks and shares in non-renewable energy?

This decision relates to Ireland’s national investment fund which has specific objectives like making investments that have a positive economic impact. The new bill is the result of civil society and multi-party support for the idea that the investments in fossil fuels are in conflict with Ireland’s commitment to the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

When “Britannia ruled the waves”, Matthew Arnold defined the “English genius” as “steadiness with honesty”, in contrast to the Celtic character, “an indomitable reaction against the despotism of fact”. As the Brexit countdown accelerates with no detailed UK proposals forthcoming, the situation has reversed. The consequences for Ireland, both the Republic that will remain in the European Union and Northern Ireland that must leave, are forcing Brexiters to react reluctantly to the despotism of fact, while Ireland and the EU maintain a steady honesty about what Brexit means. The Irish situation has focused the EU’s approach to negotiations, stymied the British approach and forged a new role and identity for Ireland in the EU.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman from the “Yes” campaign reacts after the final result was announced after the Irish referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution in Dublin on May 26. (Peter Morrison/AP)

I was in Dublin in May 2015, on the day that Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage. The “yes” vote — in favor of allowing gays to marry — won resoundingly. That night, I walked through a street party which took over the city center. People spilled out of the pubs, sat on the curbs, talked and laughed. I was in town for a literary festival and asked one of the people who’d invited me how she had voted. She’d voted yes, she told me, though not because she was particularly invested in same-sex marriage. Instead, she said, “I wanted to show the Catholic Church that they don’t rule us anymore.”

Something like that has just happened again, though this time the issue at stake appeared even more controversial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mary Lou McDonald, the new Sinn Féin president, at her parliamentary office in Leinster House in Dublin.CreditFran Veale for The New York Times

On a misty Monday morning in the city’s north end, I am sipping coffee — not the Irish kind — with Mary Lou McDonald, the new president of Sinn Fein and the most exciting person in politics here today. At 5 foot 4, this fast-talking, 49-year-old mother of two is barely a few months into the job and is already being whispered about as the possible first female prime minister of Ireland.

“How great would that be?” she asked, with a laugh. “Well, why not?”

While Britain was busy this week celebrating a fairy-tale princess, Ireland was plunged into two painful and bruising debates about women’s health issues and Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Aer Lingus flight attendant walks past a new mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin on Friday, the day of a referendum on liberalizing Ireland’s abortion laws. Halappanavar’s death after a miscarriage helped spur the referendum. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

An Irish Times exit poll says Ireland has voted to repeal the constitutional provision banning abortion with a crushing majority. The poll says that 68 percent voted yes and 32 percent voted against. People on both sides had expected a yes vote over the past couple of days; few had expected that the margin would be so decisive. Of course, the exit poll may be wrong, but it is hard to imagine that it could be wrong enough to call the final result into question.

It’s not just the big cities that voted yes

Ireland, like the United States, has very different patterns of voting in urban areas and in the countryside.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mourning Our Daughter, While Ireland Votes

Walking around this city at the moment involves negotiating an unsettling array of campaign posters: Lampposts and billboards are covered in images of fetuses.

The posters have been put up ahead of the referendum on Friday on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which has enshrined the right to life of the unborn in the Irish Constitution since its introduction in 1983.

These images are meant to provoke a strong response, of course, but the sight of so many fetuses on the streets is particularly distressing for us. A few months ago, our daughter, Cara, who suffered from a chromosomal abnormality, died at 20 weeks.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marching in Dublin last year for more liberal Irish abortion laws.CreditClodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

In 1983 the Irish people voted to give a fertilized egg the same right to life as the woman who carries it. Feminists tried to stop it. We argued that crisis pregnancies were a reality of women’s lives and that we needed the right to choose how to deal with them. We said that the constitutional amendment on the ballot, which made abortion illegal unless the mother’s life is in danger, would harm women. We marched and chanted “Get your rosaries off our ovaries.” A Catholic bishop pronounced that the most dangerous place for a baby was in a woman’s womb.…  Seguir leyendo »

Just before lunchtime on Monday, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “Tell me why I like Mondays!” He had just gotten off the phone with the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar. Varadkar told Tusk that Ireland was happy with a formula of words the British government had already agreed to: that, after Brexit, there will be “continued regulatory alignment” between both parts of Ireland. Behind this technocratic phrase, there was a great retreat by the British.

They had previously insisted that Northern Ireland is as British as Yorkshire and thus could have no special status after Brexit. The Irish government, with the full support of the European Union, had argued that this would mean the reimposition of a hard border on the island of Ireland and a real danger of undermining the Belfast Agreement of 1998 that ended the Troubles.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Henry Farrell noted here on Monday, Brexit talks are in real danger of collapse. Britain is impatient to move past the first phase of negotiations, so it can talk about its future European Union trading relationship. But the Irish border has become a major sticking point. As I (together with Paul Taggart, Kai Oppermann, Sue Collard, Adrian Treacher and Alex Szczerbiak) argue in our research project “Responses to Brexit: Elite Perceptions in Germany, France, Poland and Ireland,” Irish politicians do not accept that Brexit talks can progress without detailed solutions on the Irish border from Britain. Britain has been reluctant to get into those details.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ireland has had a tendency of late to surprise itself, and occasionally the world, as it dispenses with the vestiges of its theocratic past. The country where, just over twenty years ago, homosexuality was still criminal became the first to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015. Shortly after, Ireland passed one of the most progressive transgender recognition laws in Europe. Previously, and within a generation, bans on contraception and on divorce were lifted.

Ireland’s leap into a new progressive era seemed to be solidified earlier this year with the appointment of the thirty-eight-year-old, half-Indian, openly gay Leo Varadkar as the country’s Taoiseach, or prime minister.…  Seguir leyendo »

Simon Coveney, Republic of Ireland minister for foreign affairs and trade, speaks with Jason Naselli about his government’s approach to the border, the Conservative/DUP deal and the ‘Brexit bill’.

What is the Irish government’s preferred solution with regards to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic if the UK leaves the EU customs union?

Our preferred solution is that we find a way of maintaining as close to the status quo as possible. We don’t believe we can do that by simply using technology on the border. There needs to be quite a unique political solution agreed between Ireland, the UK and the EU that can allow the free movement of goods and services and people, and the normal environment that has been created in the border area on the island of Ireland, to continue.…  Seguir leyendo »

The dead babies scandal in Ireland has taken a new turn, as investigators have confirmed that significant quantities of human remains in two underground structures, one a decommissioned septic tank. A sampling of the remains suggested that they were from human infants, ranging from foetuses at approximately 35 weeks of development to children 3 years old. These remains seem to date from the 1925 to 1961 period when a Catholic order of nuns, the Bon Secour sisters, ran a home for unmarried mothers on the premises.

Early reports suggested a mass grave for 800 babies

When this scandal first broke in 2014, much reportage, including two stories published by The Washington Post claimed that the bodies of 800 babies had been discovered in a disused septic tank.…  Seguir leyendo »

A complete British withdrawal from the EU’s single market seems increasingly possible. Business organisations such as the CBI are openly expressing alarm about the prospect of a “hard” Brexit, the kind of rupture that would take Britain out of the single market and possibly even the customs union.

But largely ignored in Westminster and Britain more widely is that some of the most profound economic, political and constitutional consequences of a hard Brexit would be on Britain’s nearest neighbour, Ireland, and on British-Irish relations. Theresa May has indicated that, though both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, the English and Welsh majority in favour of leaving must prevail.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pesar de su inequívoco europeísmo, los irlandeses han sido muy maltratados por la Unión Europea.

Cuando los votantes irlandeses rechazaron el Tratado de Lisboa en 2008, la UE les obligó a volver a votar hasta llegar al resultado “correcto”. Un año más tarde, cuando los bancos privados irlandeses implosionaron, amenazando a sus acreedores privados (principalmente alemanes) con sufrir graves pérdidas, Jean-Claude Trichet, entonces presidente del Banco Central Europeo, “informó” de inmediato al gobierno irlandés de que el BCE cerraría los cajeros automáticos de toda la Isla Esmeralda a menos que los incautos contribuyentes del país las asumieran en lugar de los bancos alemanes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Economics was not one of my favorite subjects in college, so I avoided economic courses. But I do know a few things about human nature. If you tax income at too high a rate, corporations will look elsewhere for relief.

Take Ireland.

In 1991, Apple Corporation cut a deal with the Irish government so that only a certain bracket of its earnings would be taxed, giving it, writes Business Insider, “a dramatically lower tax rate than it would have to pay in the U.S.” In return, Apple promised jobs, lots of jobs, which it provided. The company currently employs 4,000 at its Cork campus and announced in November that it will expand that number by 1,000 by 2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Not the first or the last bleeding women about to face a long trek home.” This was one of the tweets sent this month to the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, from a woman who was traveling abroad for an abortion.

The woman and a friend set up a Twitter account, @TwoWomenTravel, to live-tweet her experience as she flew from Ireland to England for an abortion that she could not obtain safely or legally in her own country. By documenting the dreary trip with photographs of bleak-looking places along the way, the women sought to highlight the hypocrisy of lawmakers. These politicians turn a blind eye to the thousands of Irish women who travel abroad for terminations while imposing a 14-year prison sentence on any woman who procures the same service at home.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tax battle between Apple and the European Commission can seem abstract, especially if you’ve actually read the EC competition arm’s explanation of why it is demanding Apple pay $14.5 billion of back taxes.

How exactly did Apple create a company with no employees, no office and no country of registry? Why did Ireland rule not once, but twice, that such a setup was legal? Why doesn’t Ireland want to collect the money the European Commission says it should have received in taxes up to 2014?

But beyond these particular questions, there’s a much bigger and more important dynamic playing out.…  Seguir leyendo »