Prior to his pending retirement in May 2017, Prison Ombudsman Tom McGonigle talks to David Whelan about the role of his office and the latest annual report. In March 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly passed legislation to support placing the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland on a statutory footing. Tom McGonigle believes this is a...
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she wants to see a “seamless, frictionless border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but has given no indication of how this would be achieved. May made the comments to Taoiseach Enda Kenny while visiting Dublin at the end of January.
Around the same time as the talks in Dublin, MPs in Westminster were debating a Bill that would allow May to trigger Article 50, which she has strongly stated will mean a removal of the whole of the UK from the Single Market and Customs Union.
Speaking after the meeting with Kenny, May said that she recognised the movement of people across the border was “an essential part of daily life”.
Earlier that day May had met with, representatives from the UK’s three devolved governments at a summit in Cardiff including Health Minister Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Sinn Féin accused Arlene Foster of being in denial over the loss of her ministerial post, maintaining that O’Neill was there in her capacity as Health Minister, however, the DUP said that Arlene Foster was still required to carry out a number of ministerial functions.
O’Neill reaffirmed that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstance would require a special status within EU negotiations. In a shift from the polarised pre-election rhetoric from the two biggest parties, Foster said that she and O’Neill would “have to work together, because if the people of Northern Ireland decide that Sinn Féin and the DUP are the two largest parties then we have to move forward and we have to get the institutions up and running again as soon as possible”.
May returned to the Joint Ministerial Council meeting fresh from a controversial meeting with new US President Donald Trump. With Trump having implemented a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries visiting the US, mass protests were held across the world, including those in UK major cities encouraging May criticise Trump for his policy. However, May instead announced that she had invited Trump to for a State visit to the UK.