SIR – Whilst no-one should try to deny Ireland the euphoria of a successful divorce from Britain a century ago, it may be unwise to pretend the East Island no longer has any influence here.
It is now some eight months since, via this column, I outlined the four border options I saw as a possible outcome next March, two of which surrounded a united Ireland, but I was amazed to hear that very possibility openly discussed on a BBC politics programme a few days ago.
The UK motives for Brexit are just as important as the trade issues that Ireland wishes to focus on, and can be equally crucial in deciding the final deal, if any. Even those with short memories will recall the news bulletins from the lead-up to the referendum, when huge queues were lining up at the eastern borders of the EU, all intent on reaching the more prosperous countries like France, Germany and the UK where social benefits are so superior.
With a population equal to that of France, but only a third of the area, and the fear of unrestricted immigration taking things like housing, education and health beyond breaking point, the UK voters decided that ‘Taking Back Control,’ especially of the borders, was worth the possible upheaval of leaving. Although they accept that some immigration is vital for the economy, there needs to be a filtering system between the UK and the rest of the world, which includes the EU and Ireland, where selection can take place.
For the Irish government to repeatedly ignore the fiasco that has been Calais, is to obscure the picture being painted to its people? When Messrs Barnier and Juncker make statements for Irish uptake, unchallenged by Team Varadkar or the media, they concentrate on trade but deliberately skirt round the fact that any consignment of goods, again per Calais experience, can contain what will then be illegal immigrants who need to be turned back.
Whether that filter is at Newry, Belfast, Dublin, Shannon, Dun Laoghaire, Rosslare or Cork, an EU Ireland will be out on a limb dealing with the problem; not the UK’s intention but the result of a decision by another independent nation to protect itself.
A news item recently outlined a proposal from the EU to fine Ireland €600 million per annum for falling short of its environmental requirements in the West of Ireland. If that comes to pass, each man, woman and child in the State either pays an extra €130 in taxes, over €500 for a family of four, or accepts a similar reduction in public services to pay for it.
Having now attained the status of nett contributors, i.e. we pay a subscription to belong, is this really what one expects?