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Connacht Tribune

Sinn Féin in the firing line as Brexit blame game gains pace

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Outside looking in...Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald in the shadow of Westminster.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

The Brexit clock is only minutes before midnight and tempers are fraying, with no solutions on the horizon and everyone preoccupied with the blame game. Even Sinn Féin – in absentia – found itself in the firing line when rivals pointed out that the party’s six votes would have at least seen one positive suggestion passing through the House of Commons on its second night of indicative votes last Monday.

This was where MPs from all parties were allowed to table alternative motions to the Government’s withdrawal proposals.

None of them were compulsory – in other words, if any succeeded, the Government would not be compelled to follow them.

Still, a parliamentary majority for any one alternative would have massive powers of persuasion.

The motions that were voted on included a revocation of Article 50 (in other words, stop the Brexit process); a commitment to remain in the Customs Union; and a so-called ‘Common Market 2.0’ which would mean the UK would have the same relationship with the EU as Norway does, with access to the single market.

In the event, none of them were successful, even though one came very close.

But there is no doubt that the Brexit process has now reached a sorry pass.

This week is the first time that I have sense real panic in the air, in the UK, here in Ireland and also in Europe.

There is still a chance that Theresa May’s high-stakes long game of spooking MPs to back her deal for fear of the nightmarish alternative might succeed.

If she does that, it will be a triumph but one achieved at the price of chaos and division and uncertainty. She will also need to fall on her sword to achieve it.

At it stands, there are only three possible scenarios. The first is May forcing through her withdrawal deal on the fourth time of asking. The second is a crash-out and no deal Brexit which will be disastrous.

And the third is a really long delay that will certainly involve a new general election in Britain, the prospect of a second referendum and the British having to grasp the undesired reality of having to hold elections for a European parliament to which they no longer want to belong.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Remote working creates rural boom

Stephen Corrigan

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Report....Professor Alma McCarthy.

Urban dwellers are now looking to up sticks and move to the countryside, as working from home becomes the norm – and with a new survey showing almost all workers who have made the switch hoping to maintain some level of remote working, rural life is becoming increasingly attractive.

According to one of the lead researchers behind the second national employee survey carried out since the onset of Covid-19, remote working is surging in popularity, with 94% of over 5,600 participants hoping to continue working remotely for some or all of the time – an increase from 83% six months ago.

Professor Alma McCarthy of the Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUIG told the Connacht Tribune that the desire to continue working from home had grown since the first phase of the survey in April, with more flexible hours and no traffic adding to its appeal.

“What we are looking at here is a particular cohort of the workforce that have jobs which lend themselves to working from home, and where people have that opportunity, we see that support has gone up [for remote working].

“Most people want a blended type of working arrangement, where they work from home some of the time and go into the office maybe one or two days a week. I think that is probably how it will look from now on,” said Prof McCarthy.

The number of people who wish to work from home five days a week has more than doubled since April, now at 27% compared to 12% in the early days of Covid-19.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Retail outlets stay positive despite shut-down

Stephen Corrigan

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Challenge...Fiona Charity.

Galway retailers have reiterated calls to shop local online in the coming weeks, as Level 5 restrictions force them to close their doors in the run up to peak shopping season.

From today (Thursday), unessential retailers must shut up shop until December 1 – limiting outlets such as clothes, furniture and toy shops to online sales and collections only.

One such shop is Modella Fashion in Corrandulla, which only opened its doors for the first time in July, and while owner Fiona Charity said it was clearly a huge challenge to start a new business in a pandemic, she remained hopeful that she could weather the storm.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing, but public health is the most important thing, and if this works, we might have more freedom for Christmas.

“We are lucky in that we went live with our website last week and that’s been really busy already. Even though we can’t open, people are able to order online and have their order delivered, or click and collect,” said Ms Charity ahead of closing this week.

Likewise, Standún in An Spidéal has seen a surge in their online sales since the onset of Covid-19, according to manager Deirdre Ní Ghríofa, who said the message for everyone was to “shop local as much as you possibly can”.

Ms Ní Ghríofa said they had a big increase in local sales online during the early days of the pandemic and that was something she hoped would continue in the run up to Christmas.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Back in our bubble – and braced for the impact

Dara Bradley

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Fourth Class pupils from Galway Educate Together NS in Newcastle enjoying the wonder of science to mark the launch of Galway Science and Technology Festival's 2020 online programme running from November 8 to 22.

Galway is braced for the economic impact of this week’s return to lockdown – with both the pub and retail sector preparing for the worst.

The head of the county’s publicans predicted that as many as one in five outlets will never reopen, given that the best case scenario now is that they’ll return to Level 3 for Christmas,  which limits outdoor drinkers to just 15.

In a stark warning, Chair of the Galway branch of the VFI, Joe Sheridan, said a conservative estimate was that 20% of pubs won’t reopen – but that could rise to one-third if they didn’t see some return to business for the festive season.

Retailers too were predicting the worst – but still with the belief that a good December could save them.

The reasoning behind the move to Level 5 was underlined by the fact that new cases of the infection are now rising at a rate of 500 per week.

After another record week of positive cases in Galway, there were 13 patients in two public hospitals being treated for Covid-19 – twelve in UHG and one in Ballinasloe.

There were a further three suspected cases in UHG.

See full coverage of the Covid crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download a digital version from our website www.connachttribune.ie

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