Monday 16 December 2019

Letters to the Editor: Brexit is going to happen, so let's now look to EU markets

‘The EU, even without Britain, has a population of 400 million, which represents a huge market on our doorstep’
‘The EU, even without Britain, has a population of 400 million, which represents a huge market on our doorstep’
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

There has been much sounding of alarm bells over Ireland's trade with Britain, following the Brexit vote.

Britain is regularly described as 'Ireland's largest trading partner'.

The EU is very unlikely to permit Ireland any 'special relationship' with Britain that goes beyond whatever is agreed on an EU-wide basis.

As it looks certain Brexit will happen sooner or later, perhaps it's time Ireland stopped crying over spilled milk and instead got proactive developing new market relationships elsewhere before the inevitable happens.

We've only been in the EU for the last 44 years! Britain has a population of some 60 million, but the EU - even without Britain - has some 400 million. Even a small slice of that would compensate for the loss of easy access to the British market.

Yes, such a move would require the Irish business community to develop some proficiency in EU languages, when the laziness of the Irish in acquiring a second language compared to our EU fellow-citizens is almost proverbial.

Maybe we could tap into some of the many EU expats living here to help.

It could only be a good thing - opening a wider window on the world to us than our traditional, narrow, English-speaking one and finally providing some real competition for consumers.

So why do we rely so heavily on Britain when there's a market of 400 million on our doorstep? The EU has been there for us since 1973, let's start using it.

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork

Little chance of soft Border

I read in your paper (Irish Independent, January 9) that according to the Irish Commissioner to the EU, Phil Hogan, Britain must lobby for Ireland in the EU.

With his usual diplomatic skill in his interview with John Downing, he stated "clearly Brexit is a mess and getting messier".

Later in his interview he hoped that the EU "may be able to persuade the London government on a common position for the entire island of Ireland".

The previous week it was reported that the UK minister for exiting the EU, David Davis, said last month in Gibraltar that he was "loath" to pursue a special status in terms of Brexit accepting that Gibraltar had a special economic dependence on Spain.

He was well aware of Gibraltar's strategic importance as the UK's listening post for the entire Middle East and North Africa. Also, due to the fact that from time to time an RAF squadron was based there, it controlled exit and access to the Mediterranean.

He told the assembly in Gibraltar that he was asked by the House of Lords special committee about the possibility of special arrangements for Gibraltar and Northern Ireland because of their circumstances.

His comments "dismayed many of those who had been hoping for a special deal for Gibraltar".

In the same paper, it was reported that Spanish customs are reintroducing identity checks on vehicles entering Gibraltar. The registration plates will be automatically scanned with the objective of clamping down on tax evasion by Gibraltar citizens residing in Spain.

A soft Border does not look likely.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

Trump claims are not helpful

Donald Trump defied all expectations and won the US election.

Previous attempts to vilify him in the eyes of the electorate have backfired spectacularly, making him strong and resilient.

It is true that Mr Trump holds seemingly unacceptable viewpoints about Muslims, the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in historic Palestine and climate change, to name only a few.

However, raising false, absurd and unfounded allegations against him at this critical juncture will only divert attention from the critical topic that has contributed to the upsurge of international extremism and terrorism and the global humanitarian refugee crisis affecting Jordan, Lebanon, Europe and the wider world. That topic is political, economic and social disenfranchisement and religious and ethnic alienation.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, UK

Teach pupils critical thinking

I'm glad to read that first-year students in Maynooth University have been offered a new critical thinking skills module (Irish Independent, January 11).

However, it is long overdue that secondary school students across Ireland have the opportunity to take a class in critical thinking, conflict resolution and/or logic.

For the most part, we now have secondary school students entering adult life without any knowledge in these disciplines.

No democracy can thrive unless its citizens are trained in these skills and disciplines.

Vincent J Lavery

Dalkey, Co Dublin

Goodbye to wrinkles

Scientists tell us that wrinkles may soon be a thing of the past.

Surely this news will be met by some raised eyebrows?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Ireland needs a proper army

Retired Commandant Edward Horgan said in his letter that: "It's time we Irish matured sufficiently to put behind us our cap-in-hand colonial servitude attitude at 'fighting in every clime, for every cause'" (Irish Independent, January 6).

While Ireland has no reason to fight in the Middle East, perhaps the Irish are joining the UK army because Ireland spends as little on its army as Andorra, and its air defence depends on the kindness of the UK.

Mature neutral nations rely on their own military strength for their defence - like Finland with its relatively large fleet of combat-capable aircraft - and they do not rely on their former colonial masters for their military radars.

On no account should a sovereign Ireland be outsourcing its communications security to UK companies.

For example, Britain-based security firm Verrimus was asked to investigate alleged bugging at the office of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Instead of lambasting those Irish who joined the British Army, commentators should put pressure on the Government to build a proper army for Ireland - capable of defending its own people, in its own clime, for its own cause.

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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