Letters to the Editor

UK single market must be retained in all its parts for benefit of all our people

I have become very concerned to hear a number of notables within the political and business communities suggesting that the European Union’s proposed ‘backstop’ for Northern Ireland post Brexit would “represent the best of both worlds”.

This is unicorn thinking as the EU has clearly stated that their backstop proposal is based on the Spanish relationship with the Canary Isles which is part of Spain but has different customs and tax regime from the rest of Spain.

The Canary Islands are 2,000kms from mainland Spain and a ferry crossing takes 43 hours. People arriving in Spain from the Canaries are subjected to intrusive baggage checks and have very stringent import limitations in terms of personal allowance for alcohol and tobacco etc.

Having Northern Ireland in the EU Customs and Vat regime while the rest of the UK left would be devastating for the Northern Ireland economy which is plugged into the UK internal market. It would lead to restrictions on individual freedom of movement within the UK with restrictions on what we could bring from the mainland.

It would almost certainly lead to an end to UK-wide pricing and provisions of services by UK multiples like ASDA, Tesco, Halfords, Argos etc and drive us into the Republic of Ireland’s pricing and Vat structure which would add considerable costs and put pressure on family budgets here. People only have to look to the influx of shoppers from the Republic into border towns to understand that the UK retail and service sector is far superior to what is available in the Republic.

It would also mean that Northern Ireland would not be able to avail of any UK liberalisation of the banking and services sector as we would be shackled to the EU regime but not allowed to sell our products into the EU as they would be still be UK registered companies. 

The Republic is forcing the ‘backstop’ not for the benefit of Northern Ireland business or the people here but because they are terrified that Northern Ireland would thrive outside the UK as part of a liberated United Kingdom and they cannot allow that to happen. 

The Republic wants to us to retain all the burdens and liabilities of being part of the EU that they will continue to embrace as full members and denied the opportunities that will flow from being part of an Independent UK.

If the Republic is truly concerned about business on this island then they should be making moves to facilitate and cooperate rather than the bash the Brits policy they have adopted. There are genuine concerns on agriculture and plant health where the UK will have to move to facilitate the Republic and keep cross-border trade in that sector as at present but there can be no fully fledged border in the Irish Sea as it would be disastrous for Northern Ireland and also the Republic. The business community and pro-union politicians must now send out a clear and unambiguous message that the UK single market must be retained in all its parts for the benefit of all our people.

Independent Unionist,
Kilkeel, Co Down


Tour of HMS Caroline a deeply emotional event

As it is coming up to Armistice day my son-in-law and daughter took my wife and I to visit the HMS Caroline, now decommissioned and based permanently at Belfast.

The  Caroline, is only one of three major warships remaining today that fought in the naval battles of the First World War.

It has now been made into a very impressive tourist attraction where every part of the ship can not only be visited but given a verbal description of its purpose from the ship’s wheelhouse on the bridge to the engine room and every other compartment.

On entry to the ship each visitor is given a set of head phones, having a hand held pointer that they can point to the sound recorder of every department if one may wish to know more of.

However the most impressive part of the tour has to be the re-enactment of the naval battle of the war, as if it was happening right before your eyes.

In between the thunderous noise of bombs exploding one after the other, with notifications of the loss of ships appearing on the screen – HMS XXX direct hit 1,030 lives lost, followed by HMS YYY direct hit, 1,025 lives lost.

Yes, there was also recordings of German naval ships suffering similar fates.

In truth, I found this part of the tour deeply emotional but at the same time driving home the importance of Remembrance Day, and how much the people of Britain, owe to those who gave all, that they must never be forgotten.

Kircubbin, Co Down


Offended by KKK display

The media here focused solely on the offence caused to the Islamic Community in Ards, after images appeared of 10 individuals dressed in sinister KKK outfits outside an Islamic Community Centre.

Though it was good that many showed solidarity with the Muslim community over such events, shouldn’t Christians in Ards, Belfast and further beyond be seen equally as offended in their own right?

Many Churches here have been attacked in recent times. These images show men wearing KKK outfits, holding the Christian Cross, the symbol of sacrifice and love to many of the Christian faithful.

The KKK warped Christian symbolism and applied it to an ideology to commit horrendous crimes whose victims tended ironically to be Christians.

I dare say these individuals in KKK outfits passed a number of churches in Ards to or from the Islamic Centre. 

Wouldn’t images of these people outside a Church not be as offensive to Christians as they are to Muslims who see men dressed as this outside a Mosque?

Belfast BT15


Councillor’s legal bill

I am deeply perturbed but yet not entirely surprised to learn as a rate and tax payer that Alliance councillor Patrick Brown, who is suspended from Newry, Mourne & Down Council, has now cost both me and the public purse £31,000. 

The suspended councillor’s failed High Court appeal of his suspension for drink driving back in March 2017 is now coming out of public coffers when it should be either the Alliance party or Patrick Brown footing the bill.

As reported in the media irrespective of the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards engaging both senior and junior counsel I think it is insulting and grossly unfair that we the public are now paying £31,000 when the High Court should have been minded to award the commissioner any legal costs following winning the High Court appeal against Patrick Brown.

Furthermore why did the commissioner not pursue and seek the legal costs of £31,000 from the Alliance Party or Patrick Brown given he had lost the High Court appeal?

Saintfield, Co Down

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