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A link too far! February 25, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

The response to the latest proposal for an East/West link between Britain and Ireland ran into predictable criticism last week. So much so that the Tory Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was moved to tweet at the idea of an undersea tunnel from Stranraer to Larne:

“The trains could be pulled by an inexhaustible herd of unicorns overseen by stern, officious dodos,” tweeted Simon Hoare, the Tory MP who chairs Westminster’s Norther Ireland affairs committee.

“A PushmePullYou could be the senior guard,” he said, alluding to the Doctor Dolittle creature with a head at each end of its body, “and Puff the Magic Dragon the inspector”.

The idea was a fantasy that distracted from efforts to smooth post-Brexit checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, said Hoare. “Let’s concentrate on making the protocol work and put the hallucinogenics down.”

Those behind this proposal, ‘rail industry leaders’ received short shrift from Northern Irish business sources. For example:

Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said it took 30 years to build the Channel tunnel, that there was a munitions dump blocking the way and that any tunnel to Northern Ireland would not obviate border checks.

But this is the problem with blue sky thinking – or blue undersea thinking. Any old proposal can be sketched out on the back of an envelope and will likely be picked up by one media outlet or another. And some of the criticism – note Connolly’s reference to the reality that a tunnel wouldn’t do away with checks between Britain and NI – points to a different aspect of this proposal:

Politicians and business leaders have lined up to scorn the idea, calling it a distraction from efforts to adapt to the Northern Ireland protocol, a part of the Brexit deal with requires customs checks on some goods entering the region from Great Britain.


1. Michael Carley - February 25, 2021

I wouldn’t want to claim that any of this is a good idea, but the Channel Tunnel took six years to build, not thirty, and only nine years from submission of proposals to opening.


yourcousin - February 25, 2021

A little googling,

“Although the two countries agreed to build a tunnel in 1964, the phase 1 initial studies and signing of a second agreement to cover phase 2 took until 1973.[38] Construction work of this government-funded project to create two tunnels designed to accommodate car shuttle wagons on either side of a service tunnel started on both sides of the Channel in 1974.

On 20 January 1975, to the dismay of their French partners, the then-governing Labour Party in Britain cancelled the project due to uncertainty about EEC membership, doubling cost estimates and the general economic crisis at the time”

I kind of figured something like this might be the case. Mega projects are rarely that simple or smooth.


yourcousin - February 25, 2021

That’s Wikipedia of course. Should’ve cited my source.


Michael Carley - February 25, 2021

The /construction/ took six years. The big delays were political because of a combination of chauvinism, paranoia, and all the difficulties that go with joining two independent countries for the first time. At least for now, an Irish Sea link would be internal to the UK. It’s still a very bad idea obviously.

There’s a similar story about the Oresund Bridge: a lot of political and commercial issues to be dealt with, followed by relatively quick construction.


2. oliverbohs - February 25, 2021

Between this and Johnson giving Arnold J Rimmer a slapdown at PMQs yesterday Tories suddenly can give off the impression of being closer to competency than arrogant nastiness. Not good, but noone shall want to dwell for too long on 2020 and they know it. That tunnel wheeze was first reported in the Sunday Telegraph so the DUP’s role as political straight men waiting for the custard pies has been established. The main reason Tories wd want to hold onto NI is only for that. You’re never going to look bad compared to that shower

Liked by 1 person

3. Klassenkampf Treehugger - February 25, 2021

It’s good to see that No 10 Downing St. can still supply unlimited amounts of pharma-grade coke to the residents.


Klassenkampf Treehugger - February 25, 2021

A line too far, perhaps?

Liked by 1 person

4. NFB - February 25, 2021

A brutal takedown, but a deserved one. It’s a ridiculous idea. Whos going to insure construction work happening over a munitions dump?


5. Bartholomew - February 25, 2021

A few other practical considerations:

1) The steep coast on the Irish side means that it would be impossible to bring a railway tunnel above ground anywhere near the coast. The Scottish side isn’t much easier.

2) The railway gauges aren’t the same.


Liked by 1 person

Pangurbán - February 25, 2021

The Irish railway gauge is 5’3” as laid down in the gauge act of 1846; as seen in Irish statute book online. Transport is a devolved function to NÍ assembly


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