Union Day celebrated as dental health initiative launched

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Above: The flag of the Confederation was raised in the corn patch next to Government Buildings in Orchardstown.

Union Day was celebrated in the Confederation of Leylandiistan & Gurvata today. On this day two years ago, the Presidents of the Democratic Republic of Leylandiistan and the Republic of Gurvata signed the Treaty of Union at Orchardstown, uniting the two nations into one confederation. Today the two signatories, the current Co-Presidents Fionnbarra Ó Cathail and Pádraig Ó Ceocháin, met at Orchardstown again today to discuss the nation’s progress since 2014. The occasion was celebrated with tea and cake.

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Above: the Co-Presidents celebrated with a lemon & white chocolate madeira cake and tea at Orchardstown.

The Co-Presidents used the opportunity to make the announcement that the Plan for 2016 had been fully implemented. The Plan for 2016, the government’s agenda for this year, was published in January. It has worked as a guideline for the government’s activities throughout the year, particularly in legislative and budgetary matters. While the vast majority of ideas in the Plan for 2016 were successfully implemented, such as the Official Languages Act signed into law last week, two were later discarded. Following the National Budget 2016, where the National Contribution Charge was halved and other taxes were scrapped, it was decided that the National Insurance scheme would be scrapped as further income was not needed. In addition, plans to create a judicial system have been shelved as the low number of citizens and non-existant crime rate mean such an endeavour would produce few results.

In addition, the Co-Presidents launched the National Dental Health Initiative today. The National Dental Health Initiative Act 2016 was signed into law on 22 August. The aim of the initiative is to promote positive dental hygiene. The National Treasury today ordered the first batch of products, which under the terms of the Act are to be distributed to citizens for free. An order of 31 was made with Peppersmith, a British company which manufactures chewing gum and mints from xylitol, a sweet compound which neutralises plaque acids on teeth. Béal na Tíre will be reporting on the progress of the initiative in the weeks ahead.

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Historic day as GUM vote earns unanimous support

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Above: election leaflets were erected on bean poles and bird feeders by the Yes campaign ahead of today’s vote.

It was an historic day in Leylandiistan & Gurvata as the country went to vote in the first referendum in the Confederation’s history. In the end, all voters supported the ballot question, which was whether or not to accept the Charter of the Grand Unified Micronational (GUM). Béal na Tíre has the full summary of the day’s events.

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Above: the polling station at Orchardstown after opening for voting.

The weather was warm and sunny on the day the Confederation went to the polls. A final bit of campaigning was done by the Yes side, who supported the GUM charter, by erecting leaflets around Orchardstown. There was no campaign put together to oppose the GUM Charter. The Act ordering the referendum set the voting hours as 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. However, the opening of the polling station pushed back to 3:30 p.m., a fact that was announced on the government twitter feed:

Thankfully, no citizen was left waiting outside the polling station. Voting got underway not long after the polling station opened at 3:30 p.m. The ballot box was located centrally in the Government Buildings, the venue for the polling station in Orchardstown, with an area for voters to cast their preference to the left. Béal na Tíre positioned its exit poll surveyer, a tablet on a stand, outside the polling station so voters could avail of it as they exited.

Above: a look into the polling station in Orchardstown, with the ballot papers on the left and the ballot box on the right.

Voters trickled in as the afternoon progressed. Co-President Ó Cathail  was the first to cast his ballot, followed by other Orchardstown residents. Co-President Ó Ceocháin was the last  to cast his ballot, one minute before polling closed at 6:00 p.m. All voters participated in the Béal na Tíre exit poll, which at 6:12 p.m. projected an overwhelming victory for the “Yes” side:

Above: the polling station rules posted on the window (left), voters completed the exit poll survey on the tablet provided by Béal na Tíre (centre), Co-President Ó Cathail casts his ballot (right).

Counting began at 6:30 p.m. and concluded not long after. Turnout was 80%, with one Gurvatan citizen not showing up to vote. All four votes cast were for the “Yes” side, supporting the GUM Charter. The result matched the 100% projection from the Béal na Tíre exit poll.

After the votes were counted, the Co-Presidents signed the Grand Unified Micronational Charter Ratification Act to confirm the result of the plebiscite and consequently ratify the Charter on behalf of Leylandiistan & Gurvata. Commenting on the result, Co-President Ó Cathail said that the vote was “a resounding endorsement for the Confederation’s membership of the GUM, as well as our overall participation in the micronational community.” He added that the success of the referendum paved the way for further decisions to be made through referenda. Co-President Ó Ceocháin said that the result was unquestionable, and that the referendum was very successful. Leylandiistan & Gurvata has been the only nation to put the GUM Charter to a referendum, and with the support of everyone who voted, the Confederation shall now join the 16 other nations who have ratified the Charter in restarting the Grand Unified Micronational. Only one more nation needs to ratify the Charter in order for the organisation to be restarted.

Referendum on GUM Charter to be held

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The Co-Presidents today signed into law an Act which has authorised a referendum to be held this Friday, 3rd June, on the Charter of the Grand Unified Micronational (GUM). The Government decided to put the Confederation’s ratification of the Charter to a plebiscite, the first in two years, since the constitutional referendum in Leylandiistan in February 2014. The Grand Unified Micronational Charter Referendum Act 2016 was signed into law in the newly-declared capital of Orchardstown this evening. Leylandiistan & Gurvata will be the only prospective member state of the GUM to put the Charter to a referendum.

The law on the referendum has allowed for just one polling station, at the Government Buildings in Orchardstown. Due to the lack of a census or other form of citizenry records, the National Treasury was authorised to supply a list of known residents who pay taxes to the Treasury, in order to create a list of eligible voters. The polling station will open at 2:00 p.m. and close at 6:00 p.m., after which the votes will be counted.

Béal na Tíre will be providing extensive coverage of the campaign and the vote itself. Arrangements are being made to provide an exit poll, surveying voters exiting the polling station, giving an approximate result half an hour before polls are closed. The campaign will be short, given less than 72 hours remain until the vote begins. Co-President Ó Cathail, a former Vice-Chair of the GUM, is expected to campaign for a “Yes” vote, with Co-President Keohane’s position being unclear.

In other news, Co-President Ó Cathail has written to Co-President Ó Ceocháin to notify him of his absence from office for three weeks, beginning this Saturday. He has invoked the procedure outlined in the Acting Presidency Act 2016, in order to allow Co-President Ó Ceocháin to serve as the Confederation’s acting president for the first three weeks of June from Saturday. Ó Cathail will continue to serve as Foreign Secretary, although he will not be able to exercise this office to full capability due to the lack of access to an internet connection during his absence, which is due to a holiday.

Taxes slashed in National Budget as huge surplus reported for 2015

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The budget for the Government of Leylandiistan & Gurvata for the year ahead has been released, outlining the planned tax income and spending of the National Treasury on the Government’s behalf. One of the largest budget surpluses in the micronational community has been recorded for the past financial year, proving the success of the Confederation’s simple tax system.

The National Budget for 2016 was released after the government entered technical financial shutdown following the expiration of the 2015 budget. The Co-Presidents released the budget today after extensive discussion on the previous year’s financial progress.

The first part of the budget consisted of a review of the past year’s budget and financial records. It showed that as well as tax returns beyond those projected, an unexpected donation from the Mercian Government to the Treasury made by the Lord Spiritual of Mercia resulted in a large income, totalling €162.50. Expenditure was 20% below target, with a lack of capital spending under the “Regional Improvement Grant Scheme” likely the cause, resulting in a large budget surplus of €78.00.

The most notable changes were in the area of taxes. The main income source for the Treasury, the National Contribution Charge, was halved from €2 to €1, with the reason being the large surplus left over from the previous budget. In addition, VAT and Corporate Profits Tax were abolished due to the fact that neither raised any money for the Treasury, and in the view of the Treasury, “overcomplicated the tax system”. No new taxes were created in the budget.

There are no major changes in expenditure, apart from slight variations in the allocations to the government’s spending programmes as well as a marginal overall increase in spending. The most notable statement in the expenditure plans was under the Enterprise Grant Scheme, where it was stated that the Treasury expects no further diversification of the economy this year, suggesting the government will focus on the agricultural sector and its sub-sectors heavily instead. The Government expects a surplus of around €28.00 by the time Budget Day arrives next May.

Included in this year’s National Budget are economic statistics collected by the National Treasury. It showed that seeds had been the only form of goods exported this year, with seeds exported to Cinnamon Creek and Lundenwic. Imports consisted of cookies from Lundenwic, as part of the “seeds-for-cookies” deal made with Lundenwic earlier this year. This establishes that the government accomplished one of its primary economic goals from the “Plan for 2016”, which was to trade goods with other micronations and export goods for profit.

With the National Budget enacted, the Government will now move on to addressing other areas of importance. Legislation is expected to be brought forward over the course of the month on a number of matters, while another Statement of Foreign Policy is expected to address the issues raised today in a productive foreign policy discussion had by the Co-Presidents following the budget discussions.

You can read the National Budget for 2016 by clicking here.

Agricultural year slow to commence as pact established

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Above: the plots at An Fheirm in Orchardstown, seen today.

A pact for the advancement of micronational agriculture has been formed by a number of micronations. The International Agricultural Development Pact will facilitate discussion between micronations interested in agriculture, and promote agriculture as a vital economic sector for other nations. The group will also exchange seeds and other materials, promote sustainable and traditional cultivation methods, and publish a quarterly journal. The seven founding members of the pact are Leylandiistan & Gurvata, Lundenwic, Elsanor, Mallanor, Roseland, Timeria and Uberstadt. Over the past week they have agreed on a treaty for the pact, which will act as a founding document. The aforementioned states are now ratifying the treaty, after which the first quarterly journal will be published.

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Above: the oats, on the right of the bed, are thriving while the barley, on the left, is not as tall or healthy in colour.

Meanwhile, late frost in March followed by tough conditions for seedlings in April have caused setbacks in this year’s agricultural activities. Farmers in both regions of the Confederation have reported that their plantings are around two to three weeks behind on the same period last year.

One crop which is thriving in the Leylandiistani climate is “Caffreys” oats, an old Irish variety of oats. Standing over two feet tall already, the plants have not been damaged by pests or strong winds. The crop is due for harvest around July, although the oat inflorescences which will emerge in the next few weeks will be harvested before they harden into grain, in very small amounts, to make herbal teas. Much of the seed harvested will be donated to the National Seed Bank, while some may also be marketed by the Confederation Seeds Company.

DSC_0030Above: the barley crop in An Fheirm is around 6 weeks away from harvest.

The other overwintering grain being cultivated this year is barley. The awns are beginning to emerge from within the plants, with a harvest expected in late June. The variety of barley is unknown, but it is now considered likely that it is a spring variety, not suited for overwintering. It is suspected the plants may have net blotch, or a similar disease affecting the leaves, but since the barley is progressing to the grain-producing stage it is unlikely to affect the harvest or the quality of the grain. In addition to oats and barley, spring sown grains are being trialled. These include einkorn, emmer and amaranth, all of which are at the seedling stage of growth.

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Above: a view of the location where the Treaty of Union was signed in August 2014, with barley in the foreground.

Above: a robin examines some seedlings (left); young leguminous plants are among the first to be planted out, with peas left to climb a fence.

As well as being a year for trialling grains, several different types of bean are being trialled too. Gurvatan farmers are growing dwarf french beans, while broad bean, borlotti bean and soya beans are being grown in Leylandiistan, as are lentils, which are related to beans. The variety of pea in Leylandiistan this year is a purple podded pea from West Cork, while in Gurvata the “Progress #9” pea marketed by the Confederation Seeds Company is being grown.

Lastly, the National Budget for 2015 became invalid on the 1st of May, thus the spending abilities of the government have been suspended until a new budget is agreed by the Co-Presidents. They are expected to meet as early as tomorrow to resolve this situation. Béal na Tíre will be reporting on Budget Day 2016 as it happens, and will offer a summary of the major changes.

First foreign policy statement released as trading commences with Lundenwic

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Link to Foreign Policy Statement, 22 April 2016

The Foreign Office today released the first statement of foreign policy following the recent overhaul of the management of external affairs. The Foreign Secretary discussed three topics with the other Co-President, and both agreed on the Government’s stance towards those topics. The first point made was a pledge of support to the government of Lundenwic as a state of emergency continues there following a rebellion by the Communist Party of Lundenwic. The Government condemned the rebellion as “despicable and unreasonable”, and called for participation in the political process rather than seizing territory as a means of achieving political goals.

The Government also used the statement to condemn the impeachment of Dilma Rouseff, the president of Brazil. It criticised members of the Brazilian Congress as prioritising their own political goals over the national interest as Brazil endures economic and health crises, and said the fact that proponents of impeachment were themselves charged with corruption was “insulting to the intelligence of the Brazilian people”.

The last item covered by the statement was the restoration of the Grand Unified Micronational, something roundly welcomed by the Government. It praised the leadership and venue for discussion offered by the organisation, and reaffirmed the view that responsibilities within the organisation should be restricted to a small number of positions, rather than a cabinet of assistants to the Chair. Notably, the Government said it viewed the GUM as a way to counter the divisions which had arisen in the past year between the so-called “Old” and “New Guards”.

In other news, the first successful trading of goods has commenced between the Confederation and Lundenwic. Cookies baked in Lundenwic were imported by the Government, and in return seeds produced within the Confederation and marketed by the Confederation Seeds Company were exported to Lundenwic, the first time goods have ever been officially exported from Leylandiistan & Gurvata. The goods exchanged were of equal value, and the costs met by the taxpayers of both governments (although it is understood the seed producers have not yet been compensated). Both governments agreed that the arrangement would be repeated in the future. The Government is now looking to establish an agricultural pact, with Lundenwic among the nations expressing an interest. The pact would allow nations to share information, exchange seeds, co-ordinate economic, environmental and agricultural policy, as well as trade goods. It is currently undergoing the process of formation, with further announcements expect within the next few days.

Government releases Plan for 2016

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Above: The logo for the plan, likely to be used in projects resulting from it.

The first programme of government since the union between Leylandiistan and Gurvata in August 2014 has been released today at Orchardstown. Entitled “Plan for 2016”, the 6 page document details the proposals put forward by the two Co-Presidents in a number of areas for the year ahead. Government finances, foreign affairs, economy, agriculture, environment, justice, cultural and social affairs are the main areas to be targeted by the Government.

The programme contains an introduction from both co-presidents, with Co-President Ó Ceocháin mentioning the environment and infrastructural development, and Co-President Ó Cathail mentioning taxes and the judicial system. The Finance summary at the start of the programme indicates the National Treasury currently has a budget surplus of €85.20, meaning there is plenty of room for expenditure and tax cuts. The main proposals announced in the plan today are:

  • Reducing the National Contribution Charge (monthly flat tax on citizens) from €2 to €1.50 in the next National Budget in May.
  • A state run insurance scheme proposed by Co-President Ó Ceocháin, funded by the National Treasury, for items of reasonable value.
  • A complete foreign policy reassessment by Co-President Ó Cathail.
  • Initiating trading of goods with other micronations.
  • Further economic diversification, particularly into the crafts and light manufacturing sectors.
  • Legislation on cultural matters, such as national holidays and symbols.
  • Ratifying the Alcatraz Environmental Treaty.
  • Introducing a criminal code and functioning judicial system.

The last point is considered by the government to be the most important, as there is currently no way to enforce legislation. In addition, there is no judicial branch to balance the legislative and executive branches (both of which are currently held by the Co-Presidents).  A basic criminal code will be drafted and put to a referendum. One idea to make the criminal code unique is for alterations to the code to be made through a referendum only. It is thought that punishments will mostly, if not solely, be based on fines. Currently fines only exist on infringements with nature reserves. The criminal code will be drafted over the course of the spring, with a review taking place in order to determine the need for a courts system.

The programme includes aims to increase agricultural production, and to cultivate a variety of grains to determine their use in small scale agriculture. An official government website is also proposed, in order to solidify the Confederation’s internet presence. The “Plan for 2016” will dominate government policy for the year ahead, as the Government will now face the grand task of implementing the comprehensive list of proposals in the plan.

The “Plan for 2016” can be read by clicking here.