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Brexit & Ireland, an inside story of the Irish response

Tuesday, 03 September 2019
Need to understand how Ireland helped to shape the EU's response to Brexit? RTÉ's Europe correspondent Tony Connelly tells the dramatic story of the Irish response to this political and economic earthquake. Read More...
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Stanhope Forbes, father of Cornwall's Newlyn School of painting

Friday, 16 August 2019
Dublin-born Stanhope Forbes spent time painting Brittany before founding the influential Newlyn School of painters in Cornwall in the late 19th century. Read More...
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Lough Derg: the spirit of a holy place

Wednesday, 04 April 2012
A small island in a lake called Lough Derg is one of the most famous of Ireland's places of pilgrimage. About 35,000 pilgrims come to it each year intent on doing penance for their sins or seeking divine intervention in their lives. Read More...
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Nantes-Brest Canal, Brittany's popular leisure waterway

Friday, 07 October 2011
The Nantes-Brest Canal is a 364 km long waterway connecting the city of Brest, on the west of Brittany, to the city of Nantes in the south east. Read More...
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The shrine of the Cailleach at Glen Lyon

Wednesday, 07 September 2011
Each year, in one of the most remote areas of Scotland, a family of stones are brought out of the house in the spring and returned to the house for the winter. The tradition stretches back thousands of years and the site is believed to be the only surviving shrine to the Celtic goddess Cailleach. Read More...

Scottish Devolution being reviewed ten years after its inception

After ten years of devolution, two competing reviews have been set-up to try and map out the political future of Scotland.

After ten years of devolution, two competing reviews have been set-up to try and map out the political future of Scotland.


SNP review

The SNP government originally announced their intention to hold a ‘national conversation ’ in August 2007, to explore what options should be included in a referendum to decide Scotland’s constitutional future. The second phase of the national conversation, engaging the civic institutions of Scotland, was launched in March 2008.

The conversation will consider three options:
  • Continuing with the current constitutional settlement with no or minimal change.

  • Extending devolved power in Scotland in areas identified during the National Conversation.

  • Taking the steps to allow Scotland to become a fully independent country.

Upon completion of the national conversation, it is the intention of the government to hold a multi-option referendum during the term of this parliament, most likely in 2010.

The exact format of the proposed referendum has yet to be decided upon, however the suggestion by First Minister Alex Salmond that the Single Transferable Vote system could be used has caused a great deal of consternation amongst opposition parties. Under this system, in which voters rank each constitutional option in order of preference, independence could be achieved with a minority of voters choosing independence as their first option.

It seems unlikely that the Scottish government would be able to gather enough support in parliament to hold the referendum as the Liberal Democrats, Tories and Labour parties have declared that they will not support any vote in which independence is an option.

The stance of the unionist parties has drawn criticism from some unlikely sources, most notably the former Scottish Labour leader, Henry McLeish. He has stated that, "We need an open and inclusive conversation to discuss our future, one in which all the positive options are included - the current devolution settlement, more powers, independence and also a form of federalism.”


Labour review


On March 25th, the unionist parties in the Scottish Parliament announced the creation of a rival constitutional review that will examine the current set-up and make proposals to improve devolution, whilst maintaining Scotland’s place within the union. Unsurprisingly, independence will not be considered and it is unclear whether or not powers could be transferred back from Holyrood to Westminster following the review.

The review will be headed by the government's former chief medical officer both in Scotland and England, Sir Kenneth Calman. The first meeting will be in April 2008, with an interim report expected in November of this year. No other members of the commission have been announced at this time, but it is likely that they will be drawn from the three unionist parties.

Sir Kenneth has described the commission as "a genuine opportunity to take stock of what the settlement has achieved to date and the challenges it may yet have to address in the years to come.

When the findings of the review are published, they will be ‘considered’ by parties in both the Westminster and Holyrood parliaments. As part of this process, it is also expected that the UK Chancellor, Alistair Darling, will produce a paper on the funding of the devolved parliaments. It is likely that this will see a move away from the block grant towards a system where taxes raised in Scotland are spent without having to go through the UK treasury first.

Following the announcement of the review, a spokesperson for Alex Salmond made it clear that the SNP were disappointed with the limited scope of the commission: “The review excludes the option of independence, which is extraordinary, and has no clear means of reaching agreement, or allowing the people into the process."

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Celtic Countries is the online magazine for people who enjoy the Celtic nations, their natural splendour, culture, and lifestyles.

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