Biden recommits to Good Friday accord on St. Patrick's Day
President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual meeting with Ireland's Prime Minister Micheal Martin on St. Patrick's Day, in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden marked St. Patrick’s Day on Wednesday by recommitting the U.S. to the Good Friday Agreement, which has come under increasing stress following the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union. Before the meeting, the president attended a morning Mass at the aptly named St. Patrick’s Church near his family home in Wilmington, Delaware, then returned to the White House to partake in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which were toned down due to the coronavirus pandemic. In keeping with recent tradition, the water in fountains outside the White House ran green for the day. Biden and Martin also emphasized their commitment to addressing global challenges and combating the coronavirus, among other issues, the White House said.
Block a bill? Biden wants old-school Senate filibusters
Fresh off passage of Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Democrats who control the Senate will face challenges passing the rest of their priorities. While the House is able to approve bills swiftly, the rules of the Senate are more cumbersome. Smith Goes to Washington,” when the Jimmy Stewart character spoke for hours on the Senate floor. Several Republicans are likely to be eager to take their turn talking for hours on the Senate floor to rail against the White House. Democrats did away with the filibuster rules to overcome Republican stonewalling of President Barack Obama's executive branch nominations and some judicial nominees.
EU vows to speed vaccine roll out, presses drug makers
European Council President Charles Michel, top of screen, takes part in an EU Summit, via videoconference link, at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The leaders also said that restrictions, including on travel, should remain in place in many parts of the 27-nation bloc. The EU has partly blamed supply delays for lagging far behind nations like Israel, the United States and Britain when it comes to vaccinations. By early this week, 6.5% of the adults living in the EU had been vaccinated, compared to more than 27% in the U.K. He also raised concern about other issues, like the exclusion of those who have not been vaccinated, or cannot be.
UK, EU meeting in bid to calm post-Brexit trade turbulence
The turbulence centers on Northern Ireland, whose complex status has been one of the trickiest issues in the U.K.-EU divorce. Checks have also been imposed on some British goods going to Northern Ireland because it shares a border with EU member-state Ireland. That would have drawn a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland -- exactly what the Brexit trade deal was crafted to avoid. AdThe EU quickly dropped the idea after British, Irish and Northern Ireland politicians expressed alarm. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said the bloc’s move had caused “shock and anger” in Northern Ireland.
Irish PM sorry for 'profound wrong' of unwed mothers homes
FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, Ireland's Prime Minister Micheal Martin speaks as he arrives at the European Council building in Brussels. The inquiry was part of a process of reckoning in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Ireland, where church-run institutions were often tied to a history of abuse. The report said 15% of all children in the homes died from disease and infections like stomach flu, almost double the nationwide infant mortality rate. The mothers were abandoned by their families and hidden away out of shame, and many of the children were separated from their mothers for adoption. The commission of inquiry said about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children had lived in the homes it investigated.
Irish PM says 'perverse' morality drove unwed mothers' homes
Prime Minister Micheal Martin said young women and their children had paid a heavy price for Ireland’s “perverse religious morality” in past decades. The final report of an inquiry into the mother-and-baby homes said that 9,000 children died in 18 different mother and baby homes during the 20th century. Fifteen percent of all children in the homes died, almost double the nationwide infant mortality rate, the report said. Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century. “While mother and baby homes were not a peculiarly Irish phenomenon, the proportion of Irish unmarried mothers who were admitted to mother and baby homes or (state-run) county homes in the 20th century was probably the highest in the world,” the report said.
The Latest: Coronavirus cases keep rising in South Korea
(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has added 1,092 new coronavirus cases in a resurgence that is erasing hard-won epidemiological gains and eroding public confidence in the government’s ability to handle the outbreak. It would deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Preliminary data on U.S. deaths show the coronavirus pandemic contributing to a 15% or more increase in deaths over last year. ___MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials have reported a new daily high in confirmed coronavirus cases as the country awaits its first shipment of vaccine. ___WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation is reporting 151 new coronavirus cases and seven more deaths related to COVID-19.
UK, EU resume face-to-face trade talks with time running out
LONDON – Teams from Britain and the European Union resumed face-to-face talks on a post-Brexit trade deal Saturday, with both sides sounding gloomy about striking an agreement in the little time that remains. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier returned to London to meet his U.K. counterpart David Frost. If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU. The U.K. claims the EU is failing to respect its independence and making demands it has not placed on other countries with whom it has free trade deals, such as Canada.
Ireland focuses on Christmas as it enters new lockdown
A man walks past a closed bar in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)DUBLIN – Ireland is already focused on Christmas. Unless the country can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, there won’t be much Christmas cheer this year in Galway, Cork or Dublin. Cadden, a past president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said that between corporate events and family gatherings, Christmas can account for 40% of the annual revenue for some establishments. “That makes me feel able to keep going.”Business owners seem to be almost willing the lockdown to work because they, like everyone in Ireland, need a break from the loneliness, suffering and death.
European nations mixed in their response to virus spikes
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks, during a coronavirus media briefing in Downing Street, London, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)Countries across Europe are battling coronavirus infection spikes with new lockdowns, curfews, face mask orders and virus tracking smart phone apps. In a small indication of success, Spain's government said it won't extend a state of emergency in the Madrid region when it expires Saturday, but will look to more local measures. Britain's government on Tuesday said it will impose tough new measures on Greater Manchester, sparking anger from the region's mayor. An outcry in Portugal has forced authorities to back away from a plan to make a tracing app mandatory nationwide.
Brexit trade talks: both EU and UK dig in heels
European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier leaves after addressing a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Ahead of Britain's angry retort to the summit conclusions, few doubted that Johnson will lean toward continuing the talks for a few more weeks. Overall, the EU says Britain is trying to retain the advantages of EU membership without the commitment to play by the bloc’s rules. Britain says it is baffled it can't get a quick deal with generous free trade concessions like Canada got a few years ago. It left trust in the Johnson government shattered, and the European Parliament, which must approve any deal, has vowed not to approve any trade deal if the U.K. government doesn’t withdraw this legislation.
Progress is the word in Brexit trade talks before summit
(Brian Lawless/PA via AP)BRUSSELS – The European Union finally sees progress in trade talks with the United Kingdom, but insists a momentary change in mood between the oft-bickering sides is no guarantee that an agreement will be delivered on time, officials said Thursday. “I would say that the mood appears to have changed," Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said when he hosted European Council President Charles Michel. It does need substance to follow the mood," he added, urging the negotiators meeting in London this week to speed up progress. In diplomatic delegations in Brussels where member states eagerly follow the talks EU negotiator Michel Barnier has with his counterpart David Frost, there is the same sense of change in the air. In London, the government said the talks would go on straight through to next week's EU summit.
Irish leader forced to defend govt future amid golf scandal
Irelands prime minister has been forced to defend the future of his government as criticism mounted over a golf event attended by senior politicians despite a ban on large gatherings designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)LONDON Irelands prime minister was forced to defend the future of his government Monday as criticism mounted over a golf event attended by senior politicians despite a ban on large gatherings designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. But he sought to focus attention on the Irish governments legislative record, not speculation that his coalition will collapse over the scandal. The scandal erupted last week amid reports that more than 80 people, including senior members of Martins party, Fianna Fael, attended a golf society dinner in Galway on Aug. 19. He said organizers and the hotel had assured him that it would be held in compliance with government guidelines.
Ireland's Micheal Martin to lead historic Irish coalition
Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin leaves the Dail government in Dublin, where he has been officially elected as the new Irish Premier, Saturday June 27, 2020. The deal will see Martins Fianna Fail govern with Fine Gael the party of outgoing leader Leo Varadkar and with the smaller Green Party. Despite coming out ahead, Sinn Fein was unable to assemble enough support to govern. The two centrist parties have long shunned Sinn Fein because of its historic links to the Irish Republican Army and decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Faced with the prospect of losing their grip on power, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have circled the wagons, McDonald said.
Rival Irish parties strike deal to form coalition government
The deal will see Fine Gael the party of incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail led by Micheal Martin govern alongside the smaller Green Party. The election result was a blow for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the centrist parties that have dominated Irish politics since the country won independence from Britain a century ago. Fianna Fail holds 38 seats in the 160-seat Dail, parliaments lower house. Sinn Fein has 37, Fine Gael has 35 and the Greens have 12 seats. The two centrist parties have long shunned Sinn Fein because of its historic links to the Irish Republican Army and decades of violence in Northern Ireland.