No technical reason preventing an entirely open land border
AFTER Arlene Foster attended Brussels last week may I present some interesting statements from Irish Revenue to the Joint Committee on Finance in Dáil Eireann on the May 25 2017, she may find useful. It certainly seems to me that the backstop is political as there does not seem to be any technical reason preventing an entirely open NI-ROI land border which keep the territorial integrity of the UK. Let the EU jointly monitor and gather data at NI/UK ports all they like so they can be sure of protecting their single market. But equally the UK, including Northern Ireland, should be outside the Customs Union and any alignment in Northern Ireland subject to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Irish Revenue Commissioner Niall Cody told the meeting that: “In 2016, 6 per cent of import declarations were checked and less than 2 per cent were physically checked. The vast majority of these checks were carried out in approved warehouses and other premises with a very small number at a port or airport. The low level of import checks is the result of pre-authorisation of traders, advance lodgement of declarations and an extensive system of post-clearance checks, including customs audit, which are carried out at traders’ premises. Authorised economic operators (AEOs) have a special status in the system and under agreed protocols are allowed to operate greatly simplified customs procedures. There are currently 133 AEOs, which account for 82 per cent of all imports and 89 per cent of exports. It will be very important that the bulk of trade continues to be through AEOs after Brexit. The way the customs code works is that it provides for simplified procedures, authorised economic operators and the checking is done for goods at the destination point. It is not brought somewhere to have the check carried out. When we talk about approved warehouses, we are talking about logistics operations that support the transport of the goods. The goods go to their destination and we can facilitate that if it is an approved warehouse.”
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty queried if custom checks would apply to a fruit and vegetable company in Derry that is selling to the Republic.
Commissioner Cody replied “It is unlikely that goods of that type would be selected for physical examination, particularly if the destination was an approved operator. Much of what is transported in both directions is construction material. There is also agri-food produce. Something that will distort the EU market will not be sourced from Northern Ireland into the south.”
All eyes on the backstop and the proxy Dublin representatives it would generate.
Coagh, Co Tyrone
Civil Rights inception pre-dates SF’s formation
Sinn Féin recently held a march in Derry to commemorate 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement. Mary Lou McDonald rejected criticisms that Sinn Féin was attempting to be revisionist regarding civil rights and pointed out that out of this large crowd Francie Molloy and Mary Nelis were at the forefront of Civil Rights back in 1968. Imagine being able to point to two people in that crowd who had been involved in the civil rights movement from almost its inception but it is disingenuous to suggest that this was somehow a conscious movement of the republican movement. First of all, its inception pre-dates the formation of the provisional movement and hence Sinn Fein. Secondly, Mary Nelis was originally opposed to the provisional movement and in fact campaigned on behalf of the SDLP, which she joined in 1974, only joining Sinn Féin belatedly in 1981. Moreover, the Civil Rights movement largely became a vehicle highlighting the discrimination experienced by Catholics in the six counties but Mary Lou in her speech sees current issues of equality revolving around LGBT rights and the rights of women. These are matters that would have been abhorrent to the original aims of those who were at the forefront of civil rights in the 1960s. So yes, Sinn Féin’s depiction of continuity within Sinn Féin regarding civil rights is both revisionist and an invention. Many believe this invention is to create the impression that the goal of the republican movement during the conflict was to create equality rather than the ultimate aim of a united Ireland and to try and claim from that standpoint that its campaign produced results. The IRA campaign was not interested in reformism, and it castigated those constitutional nationalists who were. Only the younger generation will be fooled by the revisionism of Sinn Féin.
Unionism caused the Troubles
The British government was the ‘main conflict protagonist’.
Michael Collins in two years freed 26 counties and wiped out the elite of British intelligence. In revenge the British government manufactured a unionist dictatorship which was allowed to discriminate against nationalists for decades and parade their Orange triumphalism enforced by the B-Specials and RUC.
In 1969 nationalists took to the streets in their thousands in the non-violent Civil Rights marches to bring about peaceful political change. The first people to use political violence and murder in support of their Orange dictatorship was unionism.
Unionism said no to peaceful political change by setting the precedent by defending their Orange dictatorship with political violence and murder and therefore change could only come by the same violent methods.
Unionism could have rewritten history by saying yes to peaceful change instead of opting for violent change. Unionism caused the Troubles by their refusal to share power.
Draperstown, Co Derry
Abortion is not healthcare
How we use language can be either telling or misleading. What is abortion? What is healthcare? And is abortion healthcare?
The Republic’s minister for health’s bill to legalise abortion defines “termination of pregnancy” as “a medical procedure which is intended to end the life of a foetus”. The death of the pre-born child is not an unfortunate consequence of a necessary medical procedure – it is ‘intended’.
Healthcare is (in my mind at least) about saving and protecting people’s lives and health. Abortion does none of these – on the contrary, it is intended to end life, and also leaves many mothers mentally and emotionally scarred.
Abortion is not healthcare – but the minister for health not only counts it as such but prioritises it above the myriad of chronic health service problems he is paid to address.
Is it not problematic to try to force doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others to assist against their will in intentionally ending the life of another human being? This is not even needed to make abortion available; instead, the government could establish an opt-in system where medical professionals who do wish to participate in abortions can be included.
These issues are still a problem if doctors are expected to refer women to other doctors for abortion, in spite of their professional judgment or ethical position that abortion is harmful and not necessary.
The bill also creates resource issues: there is already a serious shortage of GPs, and of nursing staff in Irish hospitals, yet the minister would force many out of healthcare and deter others from entering it, by insisting that they act against their conscience on abortion or face serious penalties.
This bill is not about healthcare: it is a grotesque distortion of it.
Dr RUTH FOLEY