EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator warns against return to violence in Northern Ireland

European Parliament's lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt address the media after a meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels in this Dec. 7, 2016 file photo. (AP)
Updated 14 December 2016
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EU Parliament’s Brexit negotiator warns against return to violence in Northern Ireland

STRASBOURG: The European Parliament’s negotiator on Britain’s divorce from the European Union warned on Tuesday against the risks of a return to violence in Northern Ireland because of Brexit.
“The worst thing that can happen is that we return to violence because of this,” Guy Verhofstadt told a news conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The former Belgian prime minister said a new hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which is staying in the EU, and the British province of Northern Ireland would be “politically a big problem and economically a disaster.”
Britain and Ireland, which broke away from British rule in 1922, both joined the EU in 1973, ensuring that the openness of their border remained, even during years of violence in the province involving groups favoring rule from either London or Dublin.
However, Brexit will transform the line across the island into the only land frontier between the European Union and Britain, raising the possibility of customs and other controls.
Verhofstadt said he had met representatives of Northern Ireland and cautioned EU and British negotiators to tread carefully on the issue.
The EU chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, said last week he would do all he could to avoid upsetting the peace in Northern Ireland.


Spanish king’s brother-in-law turns himself in to serve prison sentence

Updated 19 min 16 sec ago
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Spanish king’s brother-in-law turns himself in to serve prison sentence

MADRID: The brother-in-law of Spain’s king turned himself in to authorities on Monday to serve a five-year, 10-month prison sentence for crimes including tax fraud and embezzlement, a prison system spokesman said.
Inaki Urdangarin signed himself into the Brieva prison in Avila at around 8:00 am (0600 GMT). He had been given five-day deadline last Tuesday to appear at a penal institution of his choosing.
Urdangarin is married to Princess Cristina, sister of King Felipe VI.
Urdangarin was found guilty in February last year of using royal connections to overcharge regional governments through public contracts to stage sports and tourist events and with tax fraud.
The retired Spanish handball player appealed the sentence before the Supreme Court, which cut the sentence slightly after overturning a part of the original ruling by the Mallorcan Court.
He may appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling before the Constitutional Court.