We should all be concerned that a realignment of Northern Ireland’s trade, thanks largely to the complications of the Protocol, has seen a steady increase in goods flowing north-south on the island of Ireland, rather than across the Irish Sea.
Defenders of the Union see the “all-island” economic argument as a Trojan Horse to bring about reunification, and warn that the longer the realignment continues, the harder it will be to reverse.
One leading unionist politician told The Telegraph: “If you can divert trade away from Britain towards the Republic and create at least a sense of an all-Ireland economy, you enhance the argument for a united Ireland”.
It is clear that the Protocol is a fudge designed to avoid physical checks on goods crossing the land border in Ireland and remove any need for infrastructure, such as cameras or customs posts, which would have breached the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The EU insisted that checks must instead be carried out on goods crossing the Irish Sea, effectively creating an internal border in the UK, and causing the delays and shortages that prompted violent protests at ports earlier this year.
Britain insists the checks and delays can be overcome by the increased use of technology, but the EU won’t agree to something that works if it doesn’t fit into their ‘political’ structures.”
EU rules ban the import of chilled meat products from non-member countries, meaning sausages cannot be sent across the Irish Sea under the terms of the Protocol. That rule has been suspended under a grace period that was due to expire at the end of last month. While Boris Johnson and his Brexit minister Lord Frost have persuaded Brussels to extend it, the concession merely postpones, rather than solves the problem of cross-border checks, and it does nothing to dispel unionists’ suspicions of what Dublin and Brussels are up to.
They are engineering and manipulating the Protocol to create the impression of an all-Ireland economy.
The economic facts are that in the first four months of 2021, imports from Northern Ireland to the Republic increased by 60 per cent and goods moving the other way increased by 40 per cent. Meanwhile, British exports, including sausages, to the Republic were down 20 per cent in the same period, according to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Fine Gael party, said in June that reunification should be his party’s “mission” and that it could happen in his lifetime (he is 42).
Ireland’s foreign minister - and Fine Gael’s deputy leader - Simon Coveney, who is 49, suggested a much shorter timescale, saying he would like to see a united Ireland in his “political lifetime”.
Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin, who is seen as being more moderate but says his Fianna Fail party remains committed to a united Ireland.
The Irish President Michael D Higgins, the son of an IRA intelligence officer, has said there are no “symbolic obstacles” to possible reunification but appears uncomfortable discussing the issue.
None of this bodes well for the Union. Nicola Sturgen, those within and on the fringes of the IRA and Brussels are clearly in cahoots to tear to shreds the Union flag. The British Government and all those who care about Great Britain and Northern Ireland, must stand up and show we are not prepared to allow these people to ride rough shod over the Union.
Lord Frost is preparing to get tough with Brussels and tear up the protocol. The solution is straightforward but there is nothing straightforward or honest about his adversaries.
My son Charley an HGV license holder, received an invitation from Swansea to offer his services. I have not, so should I complain of ageism and sexism? I don’t think so!