Back after a summer with more conversation around issues hitting the political headlines, and some bubbling. Events have moved quickly over the past week since this was recorded, but still very relevant by way of what lies behind some of the current news.
Anticipated in this podcast recorded on the 2 September, the Protocol ‘grace’ periods and delays are bumped down the road to maybe closer to Christmas. More likely more delay will then be generated going into 2022, until after the Assembly elections due in May. It would be highly embarrassing if the ‘rigourous implementation’ demanded by some were to actually happen before the election. Bad enough they’ll be eating beans on toast in Cherryvalley this Christmas.
Unremarked in that story from M&S was a warning on the likely impact of rules being applied to goods from all EU countries – the UK Government has so far not implemented import rules as it ought. Archie Norman is quoted as noting:
“This is not a one-way street. At the moment, the Irish Government is following EU guidelines and implementing their draconian controls. But by contrast, the UK has allowed EU products to continue to flow into the country, no veterinary checks, no border inspection.
“Starting in October, that is going to change when UK Government rules are set to mirror those of the EU. So in a mutual act of self-destruction, we risk lumbering French cheese producers and Spanish chorizo manufacturers with the same costs as we have faced trying to export food to the EU.”
He said “delays, driver shortages and paper mountains could be spectacular”.
A sigh of relief all round today with the extension of ‘grace’ periods in respect of the NI Protocol. That relief will be short-lived in the Republic as the full impact of Brexit on imports into the UK are to start soon, with the biggest changes in January. From Dublin, with a very subdued Leo Varadkar commenting on UK news outlets about the delay in implementation of the Protocol: Leo of course knows that the food will hit the fan on exports Republic of Ireland to GB (East-West) around the same time as he takes back control of Leinster House.
Meanwhile, the Simon Byrne, PSNI Chief Constable, looks less and less in control of anything much. Just a week after a row about failure to address open displays by paramilitaries he finds himself ‘explaining’ when the PSNI undertook survey work, using a group associated with a convicted terrorist with whom his previous engagement wasn’t a PR success.
— Simon Byrne (@ChiefConPSNI) March 18, 2021
This can’t be a problem for the Chief Constable alone. As Suzanne Breen points out, there is an army of advisers that are either ignored or fairly useless if the path taken in this Report on policing was considered credible.
Simon Byrne doesn’t look like a man with a £200k+ job supported by a 62-strong comms team. The South Armagh policing review launch was a disaster. Our clueless Chief Constable stumbles from one calamity to another, offending everybody & pleasing nobody.https://t.co/aKqeN8L3jb
— Suzanne Breen (@SuzyJourno) September 5, 2021
It is a presumption of incredible naivety that survey work undertaken by the Community Restorative Justice Ireland would lend credibility to determining recommendations on policing. That the Strategic Management Board of the PSNI thought this was a Report worth accepting in principle is astounding – either not knowing or not being remotely curious on what basis the recommendations were made.
Other Surveys and Polls have also been in the news. The Let’s Talk Loyalism survey is what it is, and doesn’t pretend to be anything more. The group generated a means of expressing views from within a specified community and used bit of online software to do that. The published report doesn’t hide its methodology or the limitations.
Some have been very quick to attack this on the basis that it called for the “collapsing of Stormont.” That missed the point by a mile. The survey didn’t pretend to be scientific and simply provided a snapshot on thinking with a particular community. It is a contribution on what is happening on the ground, on the street, in conversations around the country. Better trying to articulate views than have them played out on the street. The initiative should be commended and by all means address the issues raised, but don’t shoot the messenger.
Lucid Talk. If anyone had background doubts on how Lucid Talk conducts online polling in Northern Ireland the interview on the Stephen Nolan Show won’t have eliminated those questions.
No names, addresses or electoral register checks for LucidTalk NI opinion poll panel. Nolan interrogates Managing Director Bill White
— Stephen Nolan (@StephenNolan) August 30, 2021
At best, anyone out and about over the summer, speaking to actual people, can’t have been surprised at the headlines around the poll. They indicate what those very observant dogs in the street are all talking about. The DUP needs to show some capacity to deliver on promises, and an uncomfortable and despairing shift to Alliance by some UUP voters seem to have been reversed.
The TUV strength are no surprise. While there are many who doubt Jim Allister as a future First Minister, or would agree with policies of the TUV outside ‘Unionist’ issues, he is hugely respected as a person of principle. On the dominant issue of the day, he is head and shoulders above the others – he was one of the three instigators of the Judicial Review of the Protocol winding its way through the legal system, to which the others joined. The basis of that JR was covered in a previous podcast. Jim Allister acted while others talked.
Of course the only poll that matters is the electoral poll. The next Assembly Election is due in May 2022, which maybe sooner, or later, if ever at all.
The DUP is unlikely to roll-over between now and election, and may even endeavour to trigger one sooner than later.
Donaldson’s 4-point plan against NI Protocol:
1. DUP boycott of north-south bodies, bar ‘health-related matters’.
2. Ministers will seek to block new port checks.
3. Examining legality of current checks.
4. DUP to “seek to frustrate and prevent” adherence to EU law as it evolves pic.twitter.com/FBDYVfGY8a
— Brendan Hughes (@brendanhughes64) September 9, 2021
Time will tell. Looks like there will be plenty to talk about with @3000Versts as we head into what promises to be a lively Autumn.