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Ireland Brexit fury: Sinn Fein chief orders Taoiseach to urgently confront Boris in EU row

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On Tuesday, MPs voted to reinstate for a US-style visa waiver requiring EU citizens who are not Irish to apply online for pre-travel clearance, known as Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), before entering the UK at the Irish border. Irish ministers have denounced the “regrettable” plans, and raised concerns about freedom of movement in Ireland.

Now, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has called on Irish Prime Minister Mr Martin to talk to Mr Johnson about the plans, calling the visa amendment a “shameful situation”.

Ms McDonald said: “It undermines the Good Friday Agreement and Common Travel Area and creates significant restrictions on freedom of movement on our island.

“Are we really suggesting Polish people who live and work in Lifford now need papers to travel to Strabane?”

The Sinn Fein leader then added the new proposals for visa waivers will hit tourism across island of Ireland.

Ms McDonald added: “This could cost tens of thousands of jobs in a sector just barely getting back on its feet after Covid-19.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney denounced the decision as “regrettable”.

He said: “This decision is regrettable and contrary to the approach that UK and Irish governments have supported for many years to protect free movement on the island of Ireland for everyone.

“Our concern on this has been communicated clearly but has been ignored.”

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis responded in a tweet: “There will be no controls on the border. UK and Irish citizens will continue to be able to travel freely.

“This new ETA requirement is about protecting the Common Travel Area from abuse.

“Our commitment to the Common Travel Area is absolute, as seen throughout the pandemic.”

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The UK’s former Brexit minister Lord Frost also hit back at Mr Coveney, saying the Irish government was failing to recognise the international border on the island of Ireland, acting as if it had control of Northern Ireland.

He said: “The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is an international border between two different countries.

“One could be forgiven for thinking occasionally from Irish government public statements that sometimes they forget that.

“Obviously we must have rules for third country nationals entering the UK via that border just as at all others.

“And, for the avoidance of doubt, though after all these years it shouldn’t need saying, that does not of course mean those rules have to be enforced at the border.”

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MPs voted by a majority of 298 to 216 on Tuesday to overturn an amendment introduced in the House of Lords, which would have exempted Northern Ireland from the ETA legislation.

It is similar to what international passengers have to fill in before arriving in the United States or Canada.

The Government says it is simply an online form and once completed can be easily renewed.

Human rights group the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) condemned the vote and added the plans are “unworkable”.

They also said the visa system “risks a hard border for many non-British and non-Irish citizens in Border communities who have been able to freely cross the Border to date”.

The Common Travel Area (CTA) gives UK and Irish citizens certain reciprocal rights in each other’s countries and has continued since the UK left the EU.

The Bill will now be considered by peers in the House of Lords and both Irish and British ministers say their conversations about the plans will continue.

It comes as Richard Szostak, an EU official responsible for shaping the logistics of the bloc’s post-Brexit relationship with Britain, accused the UK of failing to live up to its commitments in “most areas” of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said there were “structural issues” in the implementation of the Protocol and cited temporary infrastructure at ports and issues over customs data.

Mr Szostak added: “We still don’t have full access to it customs databases, and the permanent infrastructure to check sanitary and phytosanitary products entering Ireland has still not been completed.”



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'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy

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Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

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Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”



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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?

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After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

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Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.



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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response

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US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

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“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”



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