Letters to the Editor

Real threat to economy comes from DUP's stubborn hard Brexit stance


Listen carefully and you can hear the unmistakeable, inevitable death rattle of the seedy Tory-DUP confidence and supply deal as Wobbly May finally cuts a deal with the EU on the withdrawal agreement and, in so doing, dishes the dirt on her erstwhile best buddies from Norn Iron. 
The trusty trio of Arlene, Nigel and Jeffrey this week are all over the airwaves indulging in what the DUP do best – threatening mayhem and warning of the dire economic consequences for ‘our wee country’ should the backstop go ahead. Bandying around meaningless headline statistics about trade volumes between NI/GB and GB/NI, they rant and rave about the damage to the NI economy that would result from a few regulatory checks on goods moving port to port, (east-west only), across the Irish sea – where checks on live animal and plant products currently exist anyway and have done for many years.

Of course, as most passive observers can discern, the real threat to the NI economy comes from the DUP itself and their stubborn hard Brexit stance.  

Their ideological, nonsensical assertion that the backstop is tantamount to the annexation of the ‘backwater homeland’ here by those voracious land-grabbers in the EU is nothing short of laugh-out-loud ridiculous.  

But they know of course that their supporters will lap up this sort of senseless rhetoric, and the DUP brand will carry on and on.  

Here’s a couple of facts for them.  First, to paraphrase Dr Katy Hayward, (The Guardian, Oct 14 2018), the backstop is NOT the final deal; it is merely an insurance policy for the people of this whole island against the reckless consequences of the hard Brexit that the DUP and their pals in the ERG would love to see happen.  Second, how many times must blue-faced business leaders here repeat with a single voice that the UK should accept the backstop for what it is (just insurance, that’s all) and get on with the business of negotiating befitting customs arrangements aimed at avoiding the real economic catastrophe for NI that a no-deal exit would entail?

And while I’m about it, here’s another fact for the DUP to mull over. After the UK departs the EU a few months hence, if the trusty trio  (or anyone else for that matter)  thinks that the Common Travel Area will guarantee the free and unfettered access of travellers into GB, they can think again. There will be a border down the Irish Sea, but any paltry regulatory checks on some goods moving east-west will pale in comparison to the checks that will apply to everyone moving west-east. Make sure, everybody, (and especially the travelling band of DUP Westminster MPs)  that you get your pristine new blue passports in good time – I’ve a feeling you’ll be needing them a lot.  Now there’s a constitutional threat to the integrity of the UK if ever I saw one.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Let forward-looking architects redesign Bank Buildings

Why do we, as a people, and I freely include myself, insist on selling ourselves short? We, who built and perfected some of the greatest ships in the world, in fact today, there wouldn’t be a cruise ship built by any shipyard if it hadn’t been for the expertise of Harland & Wolff. Instead we celebrate a ship that sank, thankfully, though sadly, not through our fault. The Sunderland flying boat which saved many lives during the Nazi submarine campaign in the Atlantic and elsewhere – Short Brothers & Harland. Mark Allen in snooker and our young boxers – nobody bothers. 

Initially though my thoughts are about the Bank Buildings. Here we have a ruin smack bang in the middle of one of the great cities that has given so much to the world, and what do we do? Slap a preservation order on it and in the process drive out of businesses and people who, with their efforts, were contributing to the economy and welfare of Belfast. On top of all this we propose to arrange, like tribes of yore, to gather with our children and dance around the remnants of what is a failed enterprise.

If, for a change we remove the mote from our eye and suggest to all forward-looking architects of Irish extraction the chance through competition to submit their thoughts on what could be built on this prime site –  boy, just think what we could show the world. In the meantime – and quick – pull the ruin down.

‘Never, never, never’ is gone for good and we now stand for what we are – builders and innovators of note.

I finish this, having just become aware of the news that the council are exceeding pleased with the news of Primark’s resurgence. Maybe, apart from dancing round the ruin we will also be treated to a fireworks display.

Kesh, Co Fermanagh


We must remember war dead as victims

As a lifelong republican I would not always agree with Patrick Murphy’s  take on political events. But on reading his article ‘Ireland in love with the Great War – again’ (November 10) I felt compelled to write this letter to congratulate him for putting things in a proper historical perspective in his article. He did something similar two years ago.
I congratulate The Irish News for publishing it. It needed to be said. We must remember the dead as victims. We must resist what he called “the propagation of ignorance” which now annually tries to legitimise the absolute carnage of the First World War. As I write this I am watching the last episode of Blackadder on the Yesterday channel on TV. Mr Murphy’s article and Blackadder  should mandatory be on all school curricula.

Tom Kettle in his poem to his daughter Betty talked of “the foolish dead”. He was right. Keep up the good work.

Co Monaghan


Republic has taken wrong direction

As we approach the Brexit end game I can’t help but think the Republic of Ireland has taken entirely the wrong direction. It would have been far better if both the UK and Ireland worked together towards their mutual stated aim of retaining an invisible border. This aim is supported by Leavers, Remainers and indeed unionists. 

It should be noted that Strand 3 of the Good Friday Agreement (which the EU has pledged to uphold in full) allows for bilateral deals between the various parts of these isles including on the issues of health, education, transport, culture and ‘EU issues’. 

On the currently proposed deal and backstop Northern Ireland can leave the UK via the Good Friday Agreement. Scotland can leave the UK via an independence referendum. But under the PM’s deal the UK/NI cannot leave the EU customs union or single market under any circumstances without the consent of the EU. Think about that. Horrendous and it should be opposed vehemently. 

An alternative solution is that Northern Ireland remains in the UK sphere but you allow the EU to monitor/check at NI ports.
Along with administrative processes, trusted trader schemes and the fact we are on an island, this should allow the EU/ROI to identify any leakage into the EU single market. Also setup a north-south trade body. 

Cookstown, Co Tyrone

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