Jake O'Kane: Not even Banksy could claim to have impact of Larne spray painter

So, a lunatic with a spray can managed not only to scupper the Irish Sea border but succeeded in heightening political tensions to a level where questions on the issue were raised both in Westminster and Strasbourg

The graffiti that appeared in Larne this week. Brexit-related checks on goods were subsequently suspended
Jake O'Kane

LAST Monday, Brexit-related checks on goods coming into Larne were halted after staff – both local and from the EU – were threatened. Nobody should have to work under such conditions; on that there is no confusion.

Where there is confusion, however, is around the origin and seriousness of the threats. Early reports said staff car registrations were being noted, with loyalist paramilitaries being blamed. Within a day, the PSNI clarified that there was no truth to either of these claims. No registrations were taken, and individuals – not paramilitaries – were blamed for the threats.

So, a lunatic with a spray can managed not only to scupper the Irish Sea border but succeeded in heightening political tensions to a level where questions on the issue were raised both in Westminster and Strasbourg. Even the world's most famous graffiti artist, Banksy, couldn't claim such an impact.

As for the problems at Larne, I may have a solution – halt all imports of Buckfast wine and the threats will disappear.

Tuesday saw a group of UVF men wandering aimlessly around the Newtownards Road. I wish the media would stop calling such idiocy "a show of force"; it lends a degree of undeserved importance to their antics as they looked more like a group of OAPs searching for a vaccine centre.

Their only victory was to close a community centre busy preparing food parcels for local families. While the police claim their prompt arrival halted any violence, they looked powerless to intervene. Surely, they could at least have handed out a few fines for the breaking of Covid rules on gatherings?

* * *

I'VE recently developed the rather worrisome habit of shouting at the television. I don't know if this is due to Covid, middle age, or a combination of both.

My latest episode happened as I watched news about home-schooling difficulties experienced by the Duchess of Cambridge. Seemingly she's exhausted combining her usual motherly duties with tutoring her three offspring. An uncontrollable roar came out of me, “C'mon, it's Prince William's wife, the future queen. The woman lives in a palace with an army of servants. I doubt she combs her own hair, much less tutors her kids.”

After my wife had shouted at me for shouting at the television, I hit back, enquiring why she wasn't mortified being a citizen of a country headed by a monarchy?

“They're a pile of chinless wonders whose only achievement was to be born in a royal bed."

She replied they were my monarchy as well as hers. I knew this was a wind-up; still, I couldn't resist biting.

Climbing high on my horse, I pointed out: “Listen, it may say British on your passport, but it's always said Irish on mine, they're not my monarchy. My head of state is President of Ireland Michael D Higgins who, unlike your monarchy, is elected.”

I could see by the way she relaxed into her chair she had me. “And when did you last vote for an Irish president?”

I've read it's important in a relationship to admit when you're wrong. I don't believe a word of it; I changed the subject, demanding to know who'd left the light on in the toilet.

* * *

DURING the week, Covid death rates topped one million worldwide, with the UK accounting for 100,000-plus. With the coronavirus continually mutating into more communicable variants, it's typical of this government's mishandling of the pandemic that confusion remains around border controls.

While the prime minister argues closing UK borders will damage the economy, he dithers on plans for all inbound travellers to face compulsory quarantine in hotels. The result is the daily Covid death rate in the UK is averaging 1,000 while in Australia and New Zealand, which have closed their borders, the daily Covid death rate sits at zero.

For us to slow the transmission of the virus, the wearing of face masks must become compulsory. I was heartened to see some shops are finally facing down the selfish minority still refusing to wear a face covering.

I witnessed a young woman being stopped from entering a shop after refusing to wear a mask. Incensed, she angrily waved a lanyard she was wearing, screaming, “But I'm exempt, I'm asthmatic."

Her argument was somewhat undermined by the fact she was puffing on a cigarette while arguing to be let in. No doubt the people with genuine reasons to not wear a mask will be annoyed by my comments – my apologies to all 10 of them.

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