Nobody mentioned the Backstop during the EU referendum, but now the Irish question is coming back to haunt us, says Helen Martin
THINK back to the EU referendum . . . now can we all remember anything said by either side at the time which warned voters on what a critical issue the Irish trade border, or lack of it, would become?
I doubt the majority of people in England even considered the effects on the Northern Ireland part of the UK, let alone the rest of Ireland in the EU. What about Donegal, geographically in the north-west of Northern Ireland, yet part of Eire and thus in the EU and in the euro currency?
Despite different governments, official nationalities and currency, the border had been removed as a crucial part of the Good Friday agreement to maintain peace and help end the Troubles.
It was certainly complicated, but became even more so when Mrs May signed up with the DUP to ensure a majority. Of course, they rejected the obvious solution of some sort of border control in the Irish Sea, because to an extent that nudged them out of the UK. But nor would they, nor Eire, support the restoration of the old land border. So how can the EU control its trade area?
Leavers, many of whom voted to regain total control and sovereignty of the UK, no doubt believed the British government was smart enough to find a solution for this problem.
Instead it’s a conflict that has become worse and worse. The UK government partnering with the DUP, hard-line Unionists and traditional anti-Catholics, was one factor that re-divided the people of Northern Ireland. Republicans in the province certainly didn’t want Brexit raising another trade barrier with the rest of Ireland, if not a physical one.
Now new alleged IRA off-shoots seem to be developing, albeit by posting little fiery letters everywhere rather than serious attacks.
There’s no chance Sinn Fein or any other politicians are encouraging that. But the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has been most effective when it comes to stirring up and reigniting violence.
With total ignorance of the sectarianism, inequality and prejudice that caused the Troubles in the first place, and the corruption of the UK government, Special Branch, British Army, Protestant paramilitaries and Royal Ulster Constabulary, all of whom worked secretly together but failed to quash the IRA, she should never have become Northern Ireland Secretary.
She didn’t seem to know that the RUC ended in 2001 and became the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) under the terms of the Good Friday peace accord, because the RUC had been exclusively Protestant. The new Chief Constable at the time admitted it would take at least a decade to recruit 50 per cent of Catholic officers to represent the whole community and create “a more equal culture”.
So only last week (while court investigations on Bloody Sunday and the Ballymurphy Massacre are still under way) Ms Bradley claimed killings by the police and military during the Troubles were not crimes – they were “dignified, acting under orders and fulfilling their duty”. Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy victims have already been proved innocent.
She may not be very knowledgeable or intelligent but she is certainly dangerous when it comes to keeping the peace.
There are so many Brexit threats – poverty, trade loss, unemployment, business collapse, food and medicine shortage, etc.
But the Backstop is also more important than it looks.
Where there’s a Will there’s no way
A NEW avenue of racism is opening up with “colourism”, the current example being reports that actor Will Smith has been given the movie role of Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus.
Campaigners describe Will Smith as “a light-skinned black” person while Richard is dark black. Therefore, Will’s too pale for the part.
I agree with that, though why should it be dubbed “colourism” and related to racism?
When movies are based on the real lives and true stories of real people who may still be with us, casting is twice as hard. The actors have to be so talented they can represent the personality, but also “lookalikes”.
Anyone who saw the Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody must have been stunned by the immediate recognition of each member of the band before even the first line was delivered.
Perhaps a few false teeth, a wig here and there, and a dod of movie make-up helped, but it was pretty much like watching Freddie Mercury, Brain May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
Plastic surgery, let alone make-up, would be needed to make Will Smith look like Richard Williams.
Council needs to dial down the road rage
OBJECTIONS to city council plans are flourishing like weeds and daffodils this spring.
Tram extensions remain a hot potato. Families are outraged that Sunday parking charges in residential areas are being restored, kyboshing traditional Sunday visits from relatives and friends.
Tour operators are enraged by Open Streets plans that cut off transport to attractions, forcing bus tourists of all ages to walk from Princes Street or the Grassmarket to the Castle. Businesses say the roadworks for cycle routes will force closures, and there are still potholes everywhere.
Is the council street-wise? Or on the road to nowhere?
At least Sturgeon’s bill is transparent
SCOTTISH Tories are complaining that Nicola Sturgeon’s five-day trade tour of the US and Canada, with seven members of staff, cost a whole £44,000.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find such a comparable, detailed account of the cost of UK Conservative politicians’ trade visits.