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Minister for Transport Shane Ross has described the potential Brexit impact as a ‘geopolitical, economic earthquake’.

23/01/2017 | Irish Times |

Minister Shane Ross TD

The cancellation of flights from Donegal to Glasgow, Scotland, a 50 per cent per cent slump in second hand car sales, and a slowdown in growth at Rosslare Europort in Co Wexford are among the effects of Brexit already being experienced.

That is according to delegates at a Department of Transport think-in on the effects of Brexit, in Dundalk on Monday.

More than 100 representatives from transport sectors engaged in a series of round table discussions on what Minister for Transport Shane Ross described as the “geopolitical economic earthquake” which was Brexit.

Mr Ross revealed a possible solution to the problem of cross-Border goods traffic was to have lorry “depots” where customs clearance could take place, in a bid to deal with predicted traffic tail backs many kilometres long.

“It is one idea I’ve heard mentioned in the department” he said. He was responding after delegates said a “best possible” customs processing time of eight minutes for lorries leaving Dublin Port, would result in a tail back of 15 kilometres at peak times.

Similar or worse delays were anticipated at the Border with Northern Ireland where 326,000 vehicles crossed the Border in the northwest region alone each week.

A number of haulage companies also spoke of the need to improve the skills of staff on customs clearance requirements.

While transport companies Matthews Coaches reported buying 11 vehicles from the UK thanks in part to the drop in the value of sterling, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said sales of second hand cars had dropped by up to 50 percent for the same reason.

Discussion facilitator Monika Wallace told the conference two weekly flights between Donegal airport and Glasgow had already been cancelled due to the drop in sterling, and negotiations over the future of the service were hampered by uncertainty.

She also said Rosslare Europort had reported a slowing down of growth because of the sterling differential and uncertainty about ongoing cross border arrangements.

The question of trade through Derry Airport, much of which is destined for the Republic was also raised as were the jobs of workers in the northwest who crossed the Border to Northern Ireland every day for work. Facilitator Ray O’Leary of the Department of Transport said it had been suggested by hauliers that electronic processing of traffic, as opposed to paper certification, should be explored.

Other issues raised by delegates included potential difficulties in getting fresh fish from Killybegs to France, should the route through the UK prove difficult and the future of the Commissioners of Irish Lights which was associated with lighthouses across the UK.

Facilitator Mary Lally said tree growers generally believed they were selling product to Irish buyers but it was not generally known that 75 per cent of such product went to the UK.

Niall Gibbons of all-island body Tourism Ireland said research carried out by Red Sea just last week showed 18 per cent of British people surveyed said the Brexit vote would influence their holiday choice in 2017. He said the number of travellers from Britain – to all destinations – would fall by 2.5 per cent with Ireland particularly exposed. But he said tourist numbers coming from “mainland Europe” were catching up on Britain, with numbers from America being particularly strong.

Mr Gibbons said tourism interests would “have to fight” just to keep market share from Britain. Remaining competitive would be key, he said

O’Leary’s Strange Bedfellows Snooker Ahern’s Unholy Alliance

While Senator Mary White remains on the warpath (see article here), Bertie Ahern should count himself lucky there is no currently identifiable Mrs Ahern.  Senator White may have an unusual political approach to her opponents but she has hita chord on Aer Lingus. Her outspoken stance on the Shannon issue has struck strong resonances throughout Fianna Fáil. And elsewhere.

The Aer Lingus decision to abandon Shannon has turned the Irish political, aviation and business world upside down. Unholy alliances have been formed. Recently, even the champion of state ownership, left-wing TD Finian McGrath, was spotted boarding a Ryanair flight. Perhaps Michael O’Leary has opened a new route to Finian’s beloved Havana?

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Bertie’s Finest Hour… Shame He Couldn’t Detach Himself From The Developers For It

It was Bertie’s day in the sun. Behold the Taoiseach, applauded by priests and poets, by businessmen and actors, by princesses and prime ministers. Up there in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, it was Bertie’s finest hour.

His predecessors as guests of honour in the holiest of parliamentary holies included Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterand. On Wednesday, the list of political dignitaries in attendance embraced John Major, Gordon Brown, Neil Kinnock, Peter Brooke, General John de Chastelaine, Senator Maurice Hayes. All had been players in the peace effort. They came to honour Bertie.

Sportsmen Eddie Jordan and Keith Wood arrived to bow the knee to Bertie. Ireland’s business elite in the UK greeted Bertie. BA chief Willie Walsh was there; investment banker Hugo McNeill was invited; so was designer Paul Costelloe. The Great and the Good of the Irish in England rubbed shoulders.

Suddenly, along the Royal Gallery strode the slimmeddown figure of Sean Dunne (or Lord Ballsbridge’ as he is sometimes known). One of the invited guests told me that he gasped at the sight of Sean.
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NI Agreement as much Reynold’s Creation as Anybody’s

Following yesterday’s historic agreement in Belfast, tribute must be paid to the Taoiseach for his incredible achievement. Further, we should not forget former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, one of the great unsung heroes of this agreement who took the issue by the scruff of the neck and had the nerve to do things other politicians did not.

It may be that he was not burdened by ideology, in the sense that many in all parties throughout this island are burdened. He had incredible courage and while his language of taking risks for peace was to some extent rhetorical, it was also true. Today, it is as much his creation as anybody’s.

Extremists Moderated; Moderates Marginalised

Tribute must be paid to people here and in Northern Ireland following the extraordinary agreement reached yesterday between the two largest parties. However, one of the sad results of yesterday’s agreement is that many of the moderates have been sidelined. Whereas the extremists may have been moderated, those who have been responsible for the process have found that their parties have been marginalised.
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Archbishop Robin Eames is an Unsung Hero of the Battle against Paramilitarism

I wish to pay tribute to Archbishop Eames who has announced his plans to retire. It must be immensely frustrating to be a clergyman in Northern Ireland where the only weapons one possesses are words to be used against the weapons of action used by politicians and the real weapons used by paramilitaries. Archbishop Eames wielded the weaponry of words very well.

He consistently preached the gospel of peace and practised ecumenism in that he consistently joined with other denominations in an attempt to bring peace to Northern Ireland. (more…)

Apologies for Terrorism from Government should not be Tolerated

Reacting to comments by Senator Mary White in the wake of ETA’s ceasefire, I told the Seanad that apologies for terrorism from Government benches should not be tolerated.

I am concerned about the apologies for terrorism emanating from the Government benches. If Senator White wants to use the Seanad to praise the president of Sinn Féin and his 14 years striving for peace, she should join that party. (more…)

There are Political Reasons for the Government Ignoring the Extent of Criminality

This country’s attitudes to Northern Ireland have moved on in the most encouraging way. The Leader [of the Seanad, Mary O’Rourke] stated that the Taoiseach’s great flexibility and the fact that he does not carry any baggage are assets. I endorse that view. We can sit back and criticise the Taoiseach for many things. However, on the issue of Northern Ireland he has a permanent place in the history of Ireland.

The reality is that whatever the setbacks, the situation improves by the day and the great tolerance the relative sides have of each other has improved immensely. (more…)

The Problem of Northern Ireland is Developing into a Problem of Crime

In the Seanad, I called for a debate on Northern Ireland. The problem of Northern Ireland is developing into a problem of crime. Out of the recent welcome outbreak of peace has sprung an incredible amount of cross-Border racketeering, money laundering and co-operation among the former criminals who have committed violent acts and who have diverted their energy into criminal activities of a different sort.

The Seanad should recognise the scale of that and not brush it under the carpet. I refer to pubs, hotels, bookmakers’ shops, cash businesses — diesel, springing up all over Ireland on both sides of the Border. If we ignore this we do so at our peril. I hope there is no consent or turning of a blind eye to such activities among officials of the Irish establishment.

Sellafield Affects Northern Ireland and Republic Alike

Today the Seanad debated a Government motion on Sellafield. I am delighted this motion has been proposed because I have been tabling motions on Sellafield for a very long time in a similar, but perhaps not quite so detailed, manner.

No matter how many times motions are tabled regarding Sellafield and the danger it poses to Ireland they have little effect, and this is one of the many failures of both Houses. The Government has great and good intentions in putting forward this motion, but the end result will be the same as the motions I previously proposed and the court cases and confrontations between the Irish and British Governments with regard to the issue. (more…)