Leo Varadkar is back as Ireland’s Taoiseach, following a coalition deal switcheroo, and is already turning to the neverending problems seen with the Northern Ireland protocol. At a press briefing in Dublin, he told hacks that all parties – the EU, Ireland and the UK – “made mistakes in the handling of Brexit.” He specified that one error was designing the protocol as “perhaps… a little bit too strict.”
“We’ve seen that the protocol has worked without it being fully enforced.
“And that’s why I think there is room for flexibility and room for changes and we’re open to that and up for that, and I know from speaking to President Von der Leyen and Maros Sefcovic, that’s their position too.
“So, we are willing to show flexibility and to make compromises. We do want there to be an agreement.
He also tried to improve his poor image among Northern Ireland’s unionist community, many of whom blame him personally for the protocol problems:
“And, you know, I have spoken to a lot of people who come from a unionist background in Northern Ireland over the years.
“I do understand how they feel about the protocol. They feel that it diminishes their place in the Union, that it creates barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland that didn’t exist before.
“And I do understand that and I do get that.
Reacting to Varadkar’s honest statement, this morning John Redwood has said he is “glad Ireland now admits they and the EU made mistakes”, asking “will the EU now end its intransigence and drop the Protocol?” Guido reckons John will have to wish on tonight’s expected Quadrantid meteor shower to see any chance of that happening…
In March this year Sadiq once again asked ministers to devolve him the power to introduce a rent cap in London. Thankfully the government has not acquiesced. We’ve already how badly the policy worked in Berlin, however despite the evidence the London mayor continues pushing for rent controls. Berliners had a miserable time at the hands of their rent cap; real estate analysis revealed it crashed supply by 41% and drove demand up to 172%. It also led to the phenomenon of ‘shadow rents’ where landlords and tenants would agree one rent complying with the cap, and a separate rent significantly above it, sometimes paid in cash.
Thankfully the cap was ruled unconstitutional by Berlin’s courts and scrapped. If Sadiq and socialists still think the cap would do anything to alleviate the housing and renting crisis in the capital they could take a look west to the Republic of Ireland. The country introduced multiple rent pressure zones between 2016 and 2020, with 55 local authorities being allocated the status. In December 2021 those houses inside the zones had rent rises capped by 2%. Unsurprisingly the rental market has gone exactly the same way as Berlin’s.
A report commissioned in May this year by the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers concludes the attempt to control rent rises has “backfired”, with landlords leaving the market and rents rising as a result of the policy. The latest DAFT survey found “The number of homes available for rent across Ireland has dropped to a new all-time low and led to a further spike in rents around the country”:
“In Dublin, 712 homes were available to rent at the start of this month, less than one-quarter of the average seen for February over the last two decades.
Outside of the capital, DAFT notes that availability is less than one-third of the pre-pandemic level of February 2020 with 685 homes available to rent.
The average rent nationally now stands at €1,524 per month, an average of 10.3% higher than the same period in 2020.”
This devastating market effect isn’t just seen in statistics, it’s felt in real life. Last week 150 people were photographed queuing for a three-bedroom house in Dublin.
There are now just 716 properties to rent in the whole country according to property website DAFT, with the country’s largest private landlord on Thursday saying he could have recently filled a new apartment block 30 times over. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Is Sadiq Khan insane?
Guido has some sympathy for the British Foreign Secretary over her mispronunciation of the Irish Prime MInister’s title as “tea-sock”. If his daughters and wife are being particularly exclusionary they will talk in Irish over the breakfast table and mock any attempt by him to join in. It is headline news in the Irish press that Liz Truss mispronounced Taoiseach. Further evidence to feed the national meme that the British don’t understand Ireland…
It should sound like “tee shuhk”, though there are regional variations. Here is some guidance:
Incidentally Liz, if you do get to first name terms when you meet the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, do be careful. His name is pronounced “mee-hole”. Honestly…
Guido is not sure this alternative historical analysis is widely shared in Ireland or America…
UPDATE: Chris Hope comments “I was not trying to make light of the Irish famine and never would. I was simply trying to draw attention to Biden’s connections to his ancestors in Ireland. That’s all.”
As the chaos at Dover continues amid talks between the UK and France, Westminster isn’t the only seat of government feeling Anger towards Macron. Stats from the Institute for Government last month revealed the UK is also the Republic of Ireland’s main route into Europe, with 150,000 truck crossings from the Republic to the continent via Dover every year. An estimated €18.2 billion of annual trade now ground to a halt…
Averaged out, Dover could expect to see €50 million of Irish trade per day – €100 million over the two days France has had the border closed. The alternatives via sea take at least twice as long for the roll-on roll-off route, and the load-on load-off sea route takes 60 hours compared to the 20 if driven through England. This is the third time in a month the French have shafted Ireland: firstly for threatening to veto the UK-EU negotiations, and secondly for laying claim to most of €5bn Brexit compensation fund Ireland had hoped they’d get to cushion a no-deal outcome…
Irish politician Peter Fitzpatrick today called for the Irish Army to patrol the Northern Irish internal border to stop cars driving south in an effort to combat Coronavirus, which is far more rife in the North than in the South. The Teachtaí Dála (TD) told the Irish parliament that cross-border travel is “being abused” and that “the number of northern registered cars you see is unreal”. He added “I don’t like it”…
“I think it’s about time that we started using the army. You see what’s happening in Dundalk we have a barracks in Dundalk where we have 450 soldiers there. Why not deploy them along the border area?”
Leo Varadkar responded by dismissing the suggestion, saying says the Irish “5 kilometre rule” is best enforced by gardaí (police) “and not by military means” in the border counties. Bit rich of the Irish Parliament to talk about protecting the Good Friday Agreement one day then discuss patrolling the border the next…