The political week in 5 points

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs calls for imaginative proposals to avoid a hard border. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has denied newspaper reports that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar proposed a ‘sea border’ between the Island of Ireland and mainland UK in order to avoid the implementation of a hard border between the North and South of Ireland as a result of Brexit. That said, Taoiseach Varadkar made it clear that the Irish Government would not be devising border plans on behalf of the UK, stating that “it is the British and the Brexiteers who are leaving”, not Ireland.

President Trump hits out at the transgender community. This week President Trump took to Twitter to announce “that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military”. The decision arose from the high cost estimations of covering transgender healthcare for those enlisted. However, the LGBT community worry that it is yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to chip away at LGBT rights, one policy/policy- reversal at a time.

James Brokenshire considers ‘a range of options’ to re-ignite a fresh talks process. It is widely understood that Sinn Fein and the DUP couldn’t break the political dead-lock during the most recent set of talks over divisive issues such as the Irish Language, same-sex marriage and legacy. The Secretary of State claims he is exploring a range of options in order to see the next set of talks succeed and is currently meeting with a range of diplomats and Senators in the U.S to explore what these options could be. In reality however, apart from applying tangible pressure and implementing real deadlines that would essentially result in direct rule should the parties fail to reach an agreement, it seems unlikely that no other creative or fresh approach would make a difference in tackling the (almost eight month) impasse.

Victims’ families win the right to fresh investigation after 40 years. The families of victims of the brutal ‘Glenanne gang’ won their court battle for a fresh investigation into the murder of their loved ones in 1975. It is largely suspected that state forces colluded with the UVF unit to carry out the Miami Showband massacre in 1975 and the Step Inn pub bombing in Keady in Co Armagh a year later. This long-awaited victory is just one small step in the right direction in providing the truth families of victims who have waited decades for it. 

Israeli Security forces remove security measures from al-Aqsa mosque. As a result of clashes between Palestinian protestors expressing anger at Israeli Security Forces who implemented strict security measures at the holy site, including barricades, metal detectors and scaffolding, erupted in violence, Israeli security forces had little choice but to remove all security enhancing devices. Al jazeera reported the protestors viewed the heavy security presence as ‘an encroachment of Israeli control over the holy site and a form of collective punishment.’ Sadly six palestinian protestors were killed during the clashes and hundreds more injured, yet again exemplifying the long over-due action need to reconcile this divided society.