Letters to the Editor

Brexit merry-go-round will continue unless accommodation is found

And so, with the passing of each Brexit-bloated day, the prospect of No-Deal looms ever larger. It was always going to come to this simply because of the impossibility of resolving the border question. When the British government first announced that it intended to leave the customs union, yet somehow still manage to keep the border open, it set itself on a collision course with the EU – especially Ireland – and with the provisions for identity and citizenship within the GFA. Our delicate peace process was immediately at risk.

The imposition of customs controls, either in Ireland or down the Irish Sea, was always going to be unavoidable where two different customs and regulatory regimes would meet face to face. Yes, to an extent, technology can be used to smooth the passage of legitimate trade. But facilitating the compliance of legitimate trade is only one of two major preoccupations of any customs authority – the other is of course with non-compliance. It is the enforcement of compliance and the combating of illegality that together necessitate any form of customs check, no matter where or how it is carried out. To seek to do this again at or near the border poses a serious risk of a return to the rigid borders of the past – the return of a fiscal border that was removed more than 26 years ago, and the return of a security border that was dismantled after the GFA.

Enforcing compliance along that border was a nightmare back then – not only because of the impracticalities of monitoring more than 300 crossing points, but also because of the dire security situation that demanded the constant attentions of two police forces and two armies. Little wonder no one wants to even contemplate the return of that horror, except of course those who will not have to cope with the fallout if it does, the likes of Johnson and his hard-core Brexiteer cabal, and their blinkered DUP apostles.

Bar some miracle, I think a no-deal Brexit is now inevitable and can safely guess that all parties will lose.  However, we shouldn’t fear ‘no-deal’ for now – this festering carbuncle must be lanced before any healing can start. My longer-term fear is that unless a final accommodation is eventually found, we will be stuck in the Brexit merry-go-round for years to come and God help us all if we are.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Pro-abortion lobby will never succeed in attempt to silence male voices

Fionnuala O Connor (October 8) has some worthwhile insights on human rights and equality. Sadly, there is a total blind spot when it comes to the child in the womb.

She again would pit women against men in the abortion dilemma, by referring disparagingly to an “all-male hierarchy” of “celibate prelates”, who are “fronted up by an unelected, crucially female intellectual”, in Baroness Nuala O’Loan.

Nuala O’Loan speaks for many citizens. Fionnuala O Connor and others would have us believe hat the only legitimate stance for a woman on abortion is pro-choice, with its attendant rhetoric of “my body”, “women’s rights” and “healthcare”.

Not only Baroness O’Loan but a huge number of women disagree. The pro-life movement is led by many very able women. The pro-choice lobby speak for some women – not all.

Furthermore, abortion is emphatically not a “women’s issue” only. Children in the womb have fathers and their voices too must be heard.
The pro-abortion lobby will never succeed in attempting to silence male voices.

In the abortion debate the word ‘choice’ features much. From the pro-choice perspective it becomes necessary to deny and entirely suppress the reality of the humanity of the child in the womb. People have a right to make their voices heard and to do all within their reasonable power to dissuade people from abortion.

Finally, the supporters of abortion ideology might, if they dare, go see the film Unplanned, which tells the story of the conversion of Abby Johnson, from being director of an abortion clinic, to pro-life advocacy.

Belfast BT12


Unplanned is a film worth watching

Contrary to what might have been expected, the film Unplanned did not show any gory details of a surgical abortion. It did show some details of medical abortions.

However, the main thrust of the film was the (probable) progress of a real person, one Abby Johnson. She commenced with a firm belief in the value to women of the services provided by Planned Parenthood (PP), and was appointed director of a PP clinic in Bryan, Texas. However, having had a radical change of heart, she resigned in 2009. She subsequently became a prominent pro-life speaker.

It would seem that the film itself precipitated an internal debate – different, but still somewhat similar – within PP itself. The discussion centred on the purpose of PP. Some held the view that abortion should be about broader healthcare of women and children, not politics – this latter including a narrow view of opponents. Others felt that abortion was not being prioritised enough by the new director.

In the event, Dr Leana Wen, then president of PP (not a clinic director), was asked to leave in July 2019, after having served only from November 2018.
Dr Wen claims she was dismissed for the same reason as that for which she was engaged, ie, changing the direction of PP. She still holds to her belief in PP. Unplanned is a film worth seeing.

Blackrock, Co Dublin


Alliance inconsistency

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw MLA (October 3) wrote of the serious threat to our NHS through privatisation as part of the Brexit process and on October 9 tweeted in support of  the Royal College of Nursing beginning to ballot for strike action. However, in October 2012 she was writing on her At The Frontline blog that “workers need to be thankful for their jobs... we have to deal with the real world, and not just in health... A huge proportion of Tesco’s staff work 20 hour weeks... It is thus hard, already, to have much sympathy with people merely having to deal with pay freezes and 3 per cent higher pension contributions”.

Paula Bradshaw needs to tell the public, specifically the public sector, whether she is with them or against them if elected as MP. Furthermore the Alliance Party needs to make clear whether they will support a Tory minority government in any hung parliament.

Belfast BT13

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