Displaying items by tag: Ireland
Theresa May’s post-Brexit plans for Northern Ireland to be under the same rules and regulations as the rest of the UK and to leave the EU customs union were challenged in the EU’s 120-page draft withdrawal agreement that includes Northern Ireland in a future customs union. The draft requires checks on goods coming in from the UK; in order for this to happen, single market legislation will also apply. The EU plan would create a border through the Irish Sea, which the UK will not accept. Michel Barnier challenged May to offer something different. The DUP is propping up the UK Government; some believe one wrong decision could see their support withdrawn. Boris Johnson said that the Northern Ireland border row is being used to frustrate Brexit, and there were ‘very good solutions’ to avoid the need for a hard border. Pray for the UK’s future to be directed by God’s Spirit, prompting MPs in all decisions they make.
Simon Coveney, Tánaiste (Irish deputy leader), has said that through the Brexit negotiations Ireland wished to see the creation of the closest possible future connection between the EU and the UK. He said, ‘A key strategic objective is to ensure that the outcome of Brexit does not undermine the hard-won gains of the peace process, as exemplified by the Good Friday Agreement. Despite the efforts of both governments in recent months, and especially in recent weeks, it is deeply regrettable that there is at present no power-sharing executive in place. However, we will not give up - we cannot give up. We urgently need to see the restoration of the Northern Ireland executive and assembly, to harness greater and broader input into how to make the best of Brexit.’
Abortions are illegal in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is a new wave of youth-driven campaigning on both sides of the abortion argument, which will come to a head over the next few months now that the Irish government has confirmed it will hold a referendum on reform of the country’s strict anti-abortion laws by the end of May.
Ireland's Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said Britain should be offered a bespoke trade deal with the EU after Brexit, rather than an ‘off-the-shelf’ agreement. He added that Ireland would like Britain to ‘stay closer in the EU’s orbit’ than non-member states, and mentioned the example of Norway, which currently implements EU single market rules with free movement within the bloc. He also suggested that although Theresa May had pledged to leave the EU customs union and single market, ‘perhaps we can negotiate something that isn’t very different from that’. Brussels wants the UK’s future relationship with the EU to be either Norwegian-style implementation of all EU rules, or a Canadian style free-trade agreement that would not cover large areas of the economy, including services. British negotiators have been given until March to decide what they want the future relationship with the EU to look like.
A leading Irish expert has called Church leaders to appoint a team of exorcists to cope with what he sees as a rising tide of evil in the country. While many believe exorcisms only happen in Hollywood blockbusters, exorcist Fr Pat Collins said he is besieged by desperate people seeking help to deal with what they believe to be demonic possession and evil activity. He is ‘baffled’ that Irish bishops are not taking more action to appoint priests to deal with everything from ghostly encounters, being pulled from their beds, and full-blown possession. ‘What I’m finding is people who in their own minds believe - rightly or wrongly - that they’re afflicted by evil spirits. In many cases it is wrongly, but when they turn to the Church we don’t know what to do, and often they are not helped.' He also said there was growing apostasy within the Church. 'As this has happened, there is increasing evidence of the malicious activity of the evil one.’
The problems over the Irish border dispute seem to have been resolved, after intense negotiations between London, Brussels, Dublin and Belfast. We can pray for God to bless everyone powerfully with the wisdom and discernment needed to bring about His purposes in all future discussions. May each nation prosper and flourish in its different Christian heritage. Pray that the UK will prosper as a result of what is negotiated in the days to come. Pray for Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK to be in unity and not divided; pray for Stormont, Scotland’s parliament, and the Welsh assembly to work in co-operation with Westminster; pray for God to be the author of all lawmaking, boundaries and borders.
(Linda Digby – Prayer Alert Team)
There are reports of a change of tone between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin; however, at present the prospect of a Northern Ireland executive and assembly being re-established remains elusive. The secretary of state has warned that Northern Ireland is on a glide path to the British government stepping in. While ‘stepping in’ remains vague enough to hold off direct rule by British ministers for now, options are running out. Further rounds of budgets will need to be signed off, and key decisions around health, education and capital investment cannot be postponed indefinitely. It is nearly nine months since the executive was brought down.
The German elections have weakened Chancellor Merkel’s leadership authority. Weeks of Brexit talks will be lost while Germany forms a government that can command a majority in its parliament. In the UK there are disagreements between Westminster and the leaders of the devolved parliaments/assemblies over which powers should eventually be ‘taken back’ from Brussels and the continuing failure to reach a Northern Ireland border agreement. Much more could be written, but the key thing for us all is to keep praying for those involved in the Brexit negotiations. May they make agreements that will speedily remove the fear and uncertainty faced by UK citizens in Europe and EU citizens in the UK, and bring clarity to businesses employing thousands who need to plan ahead for the next twelve months and beyond.
Christianity, no matter what form it takes, has now become unacceptable to the political and media establishments. The Bishops of Ireland call it 'a kind of persecution'. Viewed from a distance, anti-Christian activity might seem to have undergone merely an increase in intensity. But a closer inspection reveals that something more fundamental has changed. It is more subtle, taking the form of gradual exclusion of Church people or Christian activities from the public space. There is denigration of religious beliefs, practices and institutions on radio, television and on social and other media. There is often a focus on bad news about the Church, to the almost total exclusion of good news. The message is clear, in Ireland and in Britain alike: the persecution of the Christian faith has been ratcheted up a notch.
Ashers Baking Company, a Christian bakery in Belfast which was sued by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and found guilty of discrimination by refusing to bake a cake supporting same-sex marriage, has reported record profits. These topped £1.5 million last year, an annual increase of more than £170,000. In 2014, the McArthur family who own and run Ashers turned down the cake order because they said the slogan on the cake conflicted with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. The Equality Commission sued them, and the bakery lost the legal fight a year later. According to the Christian Institute, which is backing the company, the McArthur family is in the process of appealing to the UK Supreme Court.