Letters to the Editor

Vital Northern Ireland maintains unfettered access to trade with UK

As the negotiations around Brexit intensify in the next couple of months, and as we deal with the latest furore at Westminster, the people of Northern Ireland should stay focused on what is important for them, as well as the rest of the UK and Ireland.

An important statistic that should be at the very forefront of how we view any proposed deal is that,
of the goods that we sell outside Northern Ireland, roughly 50 per cent go to the rest of the UK, 20 per cent to the rest of the world, 20 per cent to the Republic of Ireland and 10 per cent to the rest of the European Union.

It’s vital that we maintain unfettered access to trade with the rest of the UK, which is our most important external market by some distance. That means keeping additional bureaucracy to an absolute minimum – if there is to be any at all – and certainly avoiding additional costs like up-front tariffs, as both would undermine the competitiveness of our businesses.

We also need goods from the rest of the UK to flow to Northern Ireland with little impediment as, otherwise, we will face higher prices and less choice as consumers. Food stuffs are a particular area of concern, given that we are served mainly by national supermarket chains.

For Northern Ireland, a good outcome would be to maintain unfettered access to the UK internal market, while also having a similar position as regards the Republic, because of our links and our history. Whatever access is agreed to the EU is important too and we hope as well to have improved opportunities for trade with other parts of the world, thanks to any new free trade deals the government brokers.

I’m sure businesses across Europe would resolve Brexit quickly, if it were left to them, as the trade at stake based on 2019 figures, was UK exports to the EU of £300bn and imports from the other EU countries to the UK of £372bn.
In contrast, politicians will often allow their ideological allegiances to trump the best interests of the people. There should be a complete consensus on the need to minimise paperwork for Northern Ireland’s companies and rule out tariffs for trade with our most important market.

An agreement based on the founding principles of better trade and better relations between the countries of Europe would be the most appropriate overriding approach to finding a resolution to the problems arising out of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It was a decision that we were entitled to take as a democratic nation, which I have to respect even though I voted remain.

Holywood, Co Down


Revisionist mindset

Trevor Ringland (September 1) exhibits his complete and utter indignation at Tom Collins for the content of his weekly column angrily shouting ‘Northern Ireland exists, get over it and get on with it’. In his tirade, which is filled with dour notions, he attempts to extol the virtues of the failed entity he so lavishly labels ‘friendly and generous’, a ‘beautiful place’. Whether through ignorance or simple denial he fails to mention how this province was created and ignores the fact the ‘compromise’ he speaks of was forced upon the Irish people by an unconstitutional mob led by chief agitator Lord Carson. British-backed paramilitaries – who with 24,000 rifles and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition smuggled to Larne from Germany – conspired to defy the government they pledged allegiance to. Winston Churchill castigated Carson ‘for taking part in a treasonable campaign’ as did the law lord Sir James O’Connor who noted ‘that Carson’s action was treasonable is beyond question’.

Also excluded from his rose-tinted diatribe is the truth about the ugly history of the northern area of Ulster, one of the four ancient provinces of Ireland and the suppression of Irish culture and prohibiting of the Irish language. Sadly the language is still mocked and pilloried by senior figures in the DUP.

Despite all of this, the denial of basic civil rights and the reluctance of Protestants to relinquish that most cherished of concessions – ‘the right to look down on their Catholic neighbours’ – the Irish people are a fun, friendly and accepting bunch and would welcome with open arms anyone who cares to join them.   

Belfast BT1


Bringing hope and kindness to the homeless

Northern Irish politicians have been having a hard time this past few weeks from the media and respected Irish News columnists regarding legislating their own staff embarrassing pay rises.   

However, a young politician I’ve never talked to in my life but deeply admire, works a full-time job caring for people. He and unpaid volunteers feed the young men and women with drug and mental health problems that sit on the soon to be freezing pavements on Castle Street.

They bring hope and kindness to the homeless who sit in the cold and in the shop entrances in the city centre. He and his volunteers feed thousands of people every year in a charity for the homeless beside St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street and the same young man never has to brag “or Charlie Rich himself about the country”. Leadership? Now there’s a politician  who deserves a pay rise.

Belfast BT14


Boorish BBC

So the BBC, well-known for its fatuous mentality, is determined to spend £1m of taxpayers cash to set up surveys to ask its staff how it can get better. I know I know. This same staff who could not even work out the public’s hostility to the European Union during the Brexit debate.

A recent poll indicated that this organisation is hopelessly out of touch with its core audience and is riddled with political correctness, left-wing bias, and has a funding model unfit for the modern multi media age. So, to save the BBC £1m I suggest it gets out of the propaganda business and resume its old and largely forgotten practice of placing the truth before any other consideration. The £1m saved can pay the licence fee for 6,300 viewers aged
over 75.

Derry City


Broken agreements

One has to laugh when you hear senior Americans talk about the British breaking international agreements.

I would like to remind our good friends in the US how they broke the Iran nuclear agreement, Paris climate agreement and the Russian/US ballistic agreement. I could go on.

Clondalkin, Dublin 22


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Letters to the Editor