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The UUP’s latest recruit… July 29, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…Ian Marshall, former Ulster Farmer’s Union president, former Unionist Senator and now UUP member is a most interesting character. And he talks solid good sense in the IT this week when he notes one basic reality and makes an appeal for another quite intriguing proposition.

That basic reality?

On the protocol, Mr Marshall said it was time to get past all the “errors of judgment” that had been made in the Brexit negotiations.“We are where we are. We have a protocol that is here to stay,” he said.

While the “hard facts on the ground” are it is causing disruption and cost to some businesses – “for some it is minimal and small, for some more serious and it could be a threat to the business” – he said there are also undoubted advantages.

“There can be opportunities here for business and trade. It goes back to the pre-Brexit situation when we had all this access before, but we forfeited that.

And while he seeks some amendments or modifications they do not appear to be beyond the bounds of possibility. Indeed even the way he phrases matters is useful in terms of pointing to tensions needing to be addressed ‘whether it is reality or perception’. 

He also suggests that:

…the Oireachtas Committee on the implementation of the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement to sit some of the time in Belfast to bring unionists on board.

“It is a committee that sits in Dublin, it never sits in Belfast,” he said. “There is maybe a degree of sensitivities here, that here is a committee that maybe should meet in Belfast as well as Dublin.

“Because then unionists can be encouraged, maybe in a light-touch way, to engage in a softly, softly approach, sitting down together, to be seen to be more inclusive.”

One presumes it is precisely because of such sensitivities. But, the idea is a sound one, even – perhaps particularly, as Marshall frames it within a more nuts and bolts approach to the GFA/BA and one where Unionism must ‘take ownership’ of the Agreement – but also work it through “trade, business, infrastructure, tourism, education and the health service”.

And he’s spot on about saying that it was a ‘missed opportunity’ for FF in not renominating for the Seanad. There’s a lot that’s wrong with the Seanad, and that process is problematic in the extreme, but in the context of the crying need to have more voices there from across the island that’s a waste. 

Just on the Protocol interesting how that report from the cross-bench House of Lords Committee was released this week. Even more interesting is that it doesn’t seek the removal of the Protocol, but rather like Marshall, wishes modifications of it. It attempts to apportion blame fairly equally, but anyone listening to Morning Ireland this morning when Michael Jay, the chair of the Committee appeared will have noted that he stated the Command Paper delivered by the UK government this last week or so ‘went further’ than the Committee was recommending or presumably thought feasible. 

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