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Portillo condemns ‘shocking’ role of Tory chief in new documentary

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One hundred years ago there was no US president willing to give a demarche (diplomatic warning) to the then British prime minister over policies on Ulster.

President Joe Biden’s public dressing down of current British prime minister Boris Johnson over his attitude to the Northern Ireland protocol has no precedent in US-UK relations.

A century ago, then US president Woodrow Wilson was against Irish nationalism, and his successor Warren Harding refused to interfere in what he regarded as the internal affairs of America’s war-time ally.

In 1921, Ireland was partitioned. According to former Tory secretary of state for defence Michael Portillo, much of the blame for this should be pinned on two Conservative party leaders – Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston, and Andrew Bonar Law, the Canadian-born son of an Ulster preacher.

It was Churchill’s exhortation that “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right” that first stiffened the resolve of unionists to fight against Home Rule in 1886.

His support for Ulster unionism was not based upon conviction, Mr Portillo believes, but on the belief that the “orange card is the one to play” in domestic British policies.

However, it was the behaviour of the Conservative leader Mr Bonar Law which Mr Portillo states was the most egregious when it came to Irish affairs.

Documentary series

Partition 1921 is the third in a series of documentaries Mr Portillo has made about the decade of Irish centenaries, along with 1916 Rising: The Enemy Files, and Hawks and Doves, about the War of Independence.

The latest documentary, which focuses on how partition came about, is particularly scathing regarding the behaviour of Mr Bonar Law, who was Conservative party leader between 1911 and 1921, and prime minister for just seven months, between October 1922 and May 1923, when he resigned on the grounds of ill-health.

Mr Portillo said Mr Bonar Law’s conduct in stating there was “no length of resistance to which Ulster will go, in which I shall not be ready to support them” in 1912, was “shocking from the leader of his majesty’s loyal opposition. He is contributing to armed rebellion.”

Seen from the point of view of the Conservative party then, the Liberal Democrats, propped up by the Irish Parliamentary Party, were a “band of rascals besotted with remaining in office”.

Mr Portillo compares 19th-century British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone’s conviction that home rule was right for Ireland with that of Herbert Asquith (prime minister from 1908 to 1916) and his government, who were only implementing home rule to stay in office.

“The historians who contributed to the programmes tended to think not just that the Conservatives were supporting what the UVF were doing; the UVF would not have developed in the way that it did without unionist support.

“It wasn’t just about Ireland. It was about the British empire. If Ireland moves towards independence, how do you defend the frontier against India slipping towards independence?”

The Curragh crisis of March 1914 ( also known as the Curragh mutiny) in which dozens of Anglo-Irish officers preferred to resign their commissions rather than operate against Ulster showed the British army could not be “replied upon to do the government’s bidding”, the former British defence secretary concludes.

‘Parliament has spoken’

This was a major constitutional crisis for Britain, he continues. “Parliament has spoken. Parliament has legislated for home rule and home rule is on its say.”

Mr Bonar Law’s calculations though were correct, Mr Portillo explains. “Bonar Law was absolutely confident … that the nerve of the government would crumble before their [the unionists’] nerve would crumble.”

The Home Rule Act was shelved in September 1914 and never implemented. It was replaced by the Government of Ireland Act (1920), which partitioned Ireland.

Among those who Mr Portillo interviewed for the documentary were former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Jonathan Powell – one-time adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair – and former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who states in the documentary that the issue of partition was as live now as it was 100 years ago.

Mr Adams points out that the Government of Ireland Act was only repealed by the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Mr Powell said he hoped the Belfast Agreement would make Northern Ireland politics boring and about bread and butter issues, but that Brexit had made it about identity again.

The documentary ends on a pessimistic note. Mr Portillo says British government policy in creating partition was intended to placate unionism.

“The Border is no longer permanent but contingent on referendums on either side of the divide,” he states.

“It is hoped that after so much bloodshed, the question of removing the Border is approached with more wisdom and sensitivity than at its creation.”

Partition 1921 is to be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.30pm on Monday, June 14th.

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Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari are spotted house hunting at Jeffree Star’s mansion

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Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari have been spotted house hunting – and the $16.5million mansion in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas they’re considering belongs to none other than makeup mogul Jeffree Star. 

Britney continues to make strides in regaining her freedom and was seen by DailyMail.com Tuesday arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate, only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus

Britney, 39, drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while 27-year-old Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse. 

They were greeted by a real estate agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for about 35 minutes.

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills. 

DailyMail.com spotted Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari house hunting Tuesday in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas, California

DailyMail.com spotted Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Asghari house hunting Tuesday in the upscale Hidden Hills neighborhood in Calabasas, California

Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 Bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills

The house, purchased by Jeffree in 2019 for $14.6 million, has seven bedrooms, 13 Bathrooms and boasts sweeping views of the Southern California hills

They were greeted by a Real Estate Agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for 35 minutes

They were greeted by a Real Estate Agent who gave them access, arriving at the property at 2pm and viewing the house for 35 minutes

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Britney drove her white Mercedes-Benz to the gates while Sam, dressed in short camo shorts and and a tight-fitted blue t-shirt, got out of the car and went to the gatehouse

Sam, 27, has been by Britney's side throughout her conservatorship battle and as her soon-to-be husband it's only right he accompany her on her house hunting adventures

Sam, 27, has been by Britney’s side throughout her conservatorship battle and as her soon-to-be husband it’s only right he accompany her on her house hunting adventures 

The engaged couple were seen arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez

The engaged couple were seen arriving at the private entrance to the Hidden Hills estate only accessible to its A-list residents, including Drake, The Kardashians, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview

The Jeffree Star Cosmetics founder listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time. 

Jeffree Star listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time

Jeffree Star listed his mansion in July this year with plans to move to Wyoming full-time

The YouTuber has had a career embroiled in controversy and made the move to his 70-acre ranch in Wyoming, where he’d already been living part-time, to focus on his mental health.  

‘I need to get away from California and its day-to-day atmosphere,’ he said in a YouTube video. ‘I think I’ve gotten all that I can out of this state.’ 

And while he’s ready to start anew, so is Britney, after her father Jamie was removed as conservator of her multimillion dollar estate  last month. 

According to the listing, the 21,000sqft French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac.  

The home boasts ‘superior quality amenities throughout’ which include a home theater with custom seating, large game room with wet bar, two story gym with steam & sauna, complete home spa, and a wine tasting room & refrigerated wine cellar. 

According to the listing, the 21,000 square foot French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac

According to the listing, the 21,000 square foot French Normandy Estate sits on 2.82 acres and is nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios

A sunken outdoor living room with a fire pit in the middle is surrounded by the luxurious pool and fits at least a dozen guests

A sunken outdoor living room with a fire pit in the middle is surrounded by the luxurious pool and fits at least a dozen guests

The home boasts a  large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room

The home boasts a  large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room

The home movie theater is beyond and impressive and perfect for entertaining guests who visit Britney and Sam

The home movie theater is beyond and impressive and perfect for entertaining guests who visit Britney and Sam 

The home has an expansive wine cellar with a two-seater table for any wine-loving connoisseurs to enjoy

The home has an expansive wine cellar with a two-seater table for any wine-loving connoisseurs to enjoy 

The listing states, ‘Additional features include a large gourmet kitchen with two islands that opens to the family room, two beautiful custom offices, large game room with wet bar, craft room, home automation system, safe room, and sculptural glass elevator.’

The main house has five bedroom suits, including the luxurious master suite, perfect for Britney and her new fiancé. 

Outside, the grounds feature a sparkling pool, spa, fire pit, two barbecue centers and two covered patios. 

The house hunting comes days after Britney wrote a scathing Instagram caption, in which she told her relatives they should be worried if she ever gives an interview.

As she continues to adjust to life as a free woman, the star sent a clear message to those who profited from her ‘abusive’ conservatorship, controlled by her father Jamie, for the past 13 years. 

‘Lord have mercy on my family’s souls if I ever do an interview!!!’ she told her more than 35.4 million Instagram followers on Friday. 

The huge mansion even has a sculptural glass elevator to take you between floors

The huge mansion even has a sculptural glass elevator to take you between floors 

The home also offers a 4,700-square-foot underground garage for more than seven cars

The home also offers a 4,700-square-foot underground garage for more than seven cars

The home boasts ‘superior quality & amenities throughout’ which include a home theater with custom seating, large game room with wet bar, two story gym with steam & sauna, complete home spa, and a wine tasting room & refrigerated wine cellar

Huge doors from an elegant seating area lead out into the pool area for indoor and outdoor fun

Huge doors from an elegant seating area lead out into the pool area for indoor and outdoor fun 

An entire area is dedicated to gaming, with classic gaming machines seen in an elegant room with an oversized chandelier

An entire area is dedicated to gaming, with classic gaming machines seen in an elegant room with an oversized chandelier 

If Britney moves to the estate in Hidden Hills, she'll be neighbors with other A-listers the likes of Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus

If Britney moves to the estate in Hidden Hills, she’ll be neighbors with other A-listers the likes of Drake, The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus 

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she's called 'abusive'

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive’

In addition to stating she is ‘staying clear’ of the entertainment business for now, Britney confessed navigating her independence has been hard. 

‘I’ll just be honest and say I’ve waited so long to be free from the situation I’m in… and now that it’s here I’m scared to do anything because I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake!!’ she said.    

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive.’

She has said that she’s ‘afraid ‘ of her dad and declared that she would not perform again until he was no longer in charge of the conservatorship he’s been overseeing since her much-publicized breakdown in 2008.

One of her most heart-wrenching revelations came during a tearful phone appearance at Judge Penny’s court last June when she said that she wanted to have a baby with her fiancé, personal trainer Sam Asghari, but the strict conservatorship wouldn’t allow her to remove her IUD birth control.

‘I feel ganged up on and bullied and alone,’ Britney told the court during that emotional statement. ‘I just want my life back.’

She also told the judge that she felt ‘enslaved’ by her dad, whom she, added, ‘should be in jail.’

Britney and Sam are looking forward to starting their lives together now that her father Jamie has been removed as conservator of her estate

Sam has spoken out about Britney's conservatorship and denounced her father Jamie's right to control his pop star daughter

Britney and Sam are looking forward to starting their lives together now that her father Jamie has been removed as conservator of her estate  

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she's called 'abusive'

For more than a year, Britney has been calling for her father to be fired as her conservator and for an end to the conservatorship which she’s called ‘abusive’

Fans hold signs that read 'Fry Jamie Fry' and 'I want my life back' outside of the courtroom last month as Jamie was removed as her conservator

Fans hold signs that read ‘Fry Jamie Fry’ and ‘I want my life back’ outside of the courtroom last month as Jamie was removed as her conservator 

Last year, at her father’s request, the conservatorship (the one dealing with Britney’s personal affairs, not the conservatorship controlling her finances) was temporarily transferred from Jamie to her long-time caregiver Jodi Montgomery.

While he blamed his stepping down on health issues, Jamie’s decision came amid accusations that he had gotten into an altercation with Britney’s then 14 year-old son Sean Preston, now 16.

Kevin Federline – Britney’s ex and the father of Sean and his brother Jayden James, 15 – made a police report and took out a restraining order against his former father-in-law after the incident in which, reportedly, a ‘very angry’ Jamie broke down the door of a room Sean had locked himself in and ‘shook’ the frightened teen.

Finally last month, a judge  suspended Jamie as the conservator of Britney’s personal life and $60 million estate after 13 years, appointing accountant John Zabel as a temporary conservator. 

The suspension comes as allegations of his mistreatment of his daughter – including secretly recording her calls and messages – have ramped up the furor over his conservatorship.

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Pharmacists call to be involved in Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout

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Pharmacists should be involved in the rollout of the booster vaccine campaign, the general-secretary of the Irish Pharmacy Union has said.

Darragh O’Loughlin said pharmacists had been included in the original plans as vaccinators but were not included until the summer.

“When we did start vaccinating we saw tremendous demand from people to get their vaccine in a local pharmacy – pharmacies were inundated with people looking to get vaccinated,” he told Newstalk’s Breakfast Briefing.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) this week approved the extension of Covid-19 booster shots to people over the age of 60.

A number of prominent GPs have criticised the HSE’s plan to rely on family doctors for administering boosters to older patients.

However, plans announced on Wednesday did not contain any reference to pharmacies, Mr O’Loughlin said.

A number of prominent GPs have criticised the HSE’s plan to rely on family doctors for administering boosters to older patients.

Navan GP Ruairí Hanley said the system “cannot cope” with providing boosters to everyone aged over 60 in the coming months.

“That will simply prove impossible in the context of flu season and the existing pressures on the system,” he told The Irish Times on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Mr O’Loughlin said it would make perfect sense for pharmacies to be involved in the booster programme as there are 1,000 pharmacies in the country delivering the vaccine every week with people still coming forward every day to get vaccinated,.

“It makes no sense that as we move into the booster phase of the programme we wouldn’t be involved in delivering those boosters”.

“It looks like GPs are going to be expected to pick up the bulk of the work – despite the fact that the GP system is already under such pressure – and vaccination centres will be used as well.

“We obviously aren’t saying vaccination centres shouldn’t be used, and we aren’t saying GPs shouldn’t be involved. We’re just saying that in a programme of this size and a campaign of this size, where we will want 800,000 people between the ages of 60 upwards to get vaccinated with a booster dose, it makes no sense to exclude 1,000 vaccination locations around the country”.

Meanwhile, oncologist Prof Seamus O’Reilly, speaking on Morning Ireland, called for a targeted social media campaign to encourage the unvaccinated.

Such a campaign had been undertaken by CervicalCheck and he felt it would help to address the concerns of the unvaccinated rather than berate them.

The virus was going to be an issue for years to come as new variants emerged worldwide.

This means vaccination programmes have to be accelerated, he said, otherwise waiting lists were going to grow as care was diverted to Covid cases.

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Experience of pandemic in Dublin and London worlds apart

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I have spent almost the entirety of the pandemic in London. And though the vertiginous changes in Irish and UK Covid policy over the past 18 months are easy to track through the news, a recent trip back to Dublin offered a fresh perspective.

The atmosphere on the streets is markedly different. And the day-to-day experience of life amid a pandemic worlds apart.

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