In December, the Government published a 131-page plan on how to deal with a hard Border in a “damage-limiting exercise”.
The draft agreement published in November had, as Leo Varadkar stated, “reached a satisfactory outcome”.
In relation to the Border, he envisaged that “the best way to avoid a hard Border was to agree a comprehensive future relationship that would render a border unnecessary”.
The Garda Commissioners’ comments in Galway that “zero work” has been done in the implementation and planning for a hard Border is extremely worrying. The threat from dissidents and increasing crime and smuggling requires an immediate response and not the lacklustre political-sponsored approach that those in senior positions like Drew Harris have adopted.
In January 2019 in Davos, Mr Varadkar explained that in a no-deal scenario we could see physical infrastructure, men in uniform, gardaí and possibly the Army, and he came in for a lot of criticism.
The confusing, muddled and half-hearted approach by those in Government and in senior security positions has left me in no doubt that the planning phase and implementation in a no-deal, hard-Brexit scenario is just that, confusing.
The loss of parliamentary control by Mrs May and the indicative votes leaves us in no doubt that Westminster is in absolute disarray with no clear way forward and with a hard Brexit more likely.
We have a right as EU citizens to agree what is best for our citizens, yet we don’t get to vote, and the UK government’s confusing strategies and statements to deliver an open-border, tariff and customs-free, is fanciful and a form of denial.
We hear time and time again that the Good Friday Agreement is under threat in a no-deal or hard-Brexit scenario. This agreement has been used as a ‘Damocles Sword’, or threat, that if an agreement isn’t reached that we could see Northern Ireland erupt back into the violence of the 1970s and 80s.
The main parties in Northern Ireland have done nothing under this agreement for the past two-and-a-half years. They’ve refused to engage to get the Assembly up and running, yet they’re still getting paid.
The ESRI’s stark warning – of the loss of 80,000 jobs and the cost to the economy could be between €8bn and €15bn a year in a deal or no-deal scenario, along with warnings given by business leaders in the UK – should give us all food for thought.
The way for politicians and others in senior positions in both the Government here and in the UK to avoid the meltdown of both economies is to get an agreement palatable to the UK, Ireland and the EU passed, and to prevent a cliff edge or no-turning-back scenario.
Sadly it will not be those in the political sphere who will suffer but those of us who contribute to our economies on a daily basis.
Letterkenny, Co Donegal
Poem for a mother long gone
Mamma, there’s a sale on in Ryan’s Drapery in Galway
In between having babies through the 60s
Torn down by way too much
Of things she did not speak of
Of rules she had not broken
Of guilt already assigned
Of sounds she stifled silent in her mouth
Of tastes bitter and thwarted
Of things seen but more unseen
Of smells bleached out,
Ryan’s Drapery Shop was the out that outed her – the skittish girl.
Flirting in hemlines
Dancing in scarves of silk
Skipping button holes of tweed
Rolling raglan sleeves of wool
Rising and folding in pintucks
Threading in and out of waistbands that fit in collars that scooped and rolled
In pockets where her hands might later hide
There the skittish girl would out
And out and out
The mother sewn within.
Drimnagh, Dublin 12
General election will end in a kicking for parties
While hinting a general election would be facilitated by extending the Brexit date, the EU is holding its hands up and smugly saying ‘it is not our problem, it’s the UK’s’.
Likewise our Government is by and large giving out the same message.
Jeremy Corbyn, while objecting to everything Theresa May comes up with, has not come up with any real solutions himself and instead of providing any well-thought-out policy on Brexit, he is as much at sea with it as the Tories. All he can come up with is the old reliable of calling for a general election.
It seems to me all the participants in this debacle should be careful what they wish for. With the British public frustratingly witnessing such political ineptitude in their government and opposition party, surely it would be Ukip who would make large gains in the event of a general election. This would suit none of the above.
The DUP should also be careful in its role of the tail wagging the dog in parliament. The business and farming community in the North can only stand by and watch their political representatives give their legitimate concerns the two fingers as they follow their own ultimate objective of bringing down the Good Friday Agreement by saying ‘no, no, no’ to everything.
They too may expect a good kicking in any future general election.
Our national attitude to conservation is appalling
A quarter of our species in Ireland (birds, mammals, insects and wild plants) face possible extinction.
Birds like the corncrake, skylark, curlew and yellowhammer have all but vanished from our Emerald Isle. The Irish hare, hailed in song and folklore, has been in decline for the past 50 years due to loss of habitat resulting from modern farm practices and urbanisation.
And how do our politicians respond to the plight of these creatures that enhance our own lives even as they battle for survival?
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which works so hard to conserve and protect Ireland’s diverse flora and fauna, receives State funding of just €11m a year – while €16m of taxpayers’ money is granted per annum to the greyhound industry and a jaw-dropping €64m a year goes to horse racing.
Successive governments have accorded a higher priority to these activities than to the conservation of endangered wildlife and vulnerable habitats.
In the case of the Irish hare, our leaders do worse than merely fail to cater for its preservation as a species – they allow the capture of thousands of these inoffensive creatures every year for use in a cruel blood sport.
I saw one of these iconic animals earlier this month: A “mad” March Hare frolicking in a sun-lit meadow.
A happy scene, but I couldn’t dispel the image of the same animal criss-crossing a muddy field in winter, dogs snapping at his heels.
Maybe some day we’ll get a government that commits to protecting our wildlife heritage instead of funding silly dog and horse races and propping up the scandal of live hare-coursing.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
A great start by Mick and the lads bodes very well
Well done to Mick McCarthy and the Irish soccer team for the engaging display of footballing skills in the Ireland v Georgia game on Tuesday evening.
The way they controlled the ball and moved around the pitch reminded me of the open football played by England in the World Cup last year.
If they continue to play like this, they will earn more fans and put themselves in pole position to qualify for the Euros next year.
Mrs May might need to be literally shown the door
Failure is generally linked to a little sadness but as Theresa May prepares to do ‘the decent thing’, many people will find it difficult to show empathy.
However, given her history of calamitous incompetence and ineptitude, it has been suggested she might try to fall on her sword but miss.
A mallet and wooden stake, perhaps?
Why being down in the dumps is for the birds
I woke up this morning around 5am feeling down. I lay there wondering what I could write about.
Suddenly, I heard the birdies singing. The wonderful ‘dawn chorus’ was in full voice. Spring was indeed in the air. The birdies had cheered me up no end. A new beginning. Sure is life not full of them?
Thank you, birdies.
Glenties, Co Donegal