Posted By: June 30, 2021

Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

“Brian Feeney, a former SDLP elected official, is one of the most incisive and reliable commentators on England’s policy in Northern Ireland. He often likes to quote, though not in this article, General De Gaulle’s memoirs to help the public to understand England’s policy not just in Ireland but, historically, throughout the world: ‘For England when she was stronger, there is no alliance which holds, no treaty which is respected, no truth which matters.’”


Brian Feeney

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

On December 17 last year the British government made the following formal declaration. First, they committed “to fully implement the protocol.” Secondly, they agreed that “regulatory requirements under EU law” will apply in the north, including “restrictions and prohibitions” with regard to certain products.

The British then acknowledged and specified these products: ‘minced meat of poultry, of ratites (exotic wild birds) and of wild game-birds, frozen or chilled, chilled minced meat from animals other than poultry, chilled meat preparations.’ Until July 1 the British agreed they were to be accompanied by official certificates issued by UK authorities, sold here exclusively to consumers in supermarkets, and bear a label stating: “These products from the United Kingdom may not be sold outside Northern Ireland”. The EU issued a declaration acknowledging the UK’s commitment.

This contemptible British government, as they have done on so much else, ratted on the declaration and its commitments. At a press conference in London some weeks ago Maros Sefcovic, who negotiated the declarations, said derisorily, the British did none of it. “They didn’t even stick a label on packets.”

On Sunday to add insult to injury our bloviating proconsul spouted drivel on the Andrew Marr show claiming, “the protocol isn’t working as it was intended” and that the British didn’t think the EU would adopt a “purist” approach. He added an even bigger whopper; that what’s happening “goes against the protocol”.

That’s just downright wrong and our proconsul knows it. You can’t say he should be ashamed of what he said in that interview because, taking their cue from the prime minister, no one in this unethical government is ashamed of anything.

The protocol isn’t working as it was intended because DUP ministers, encouraged and egged on by the British government, refuse to work it. They have engaged in wilful obstruction since January 2020. They wouldn’t tell traders what would be required on January 1, 2021. They put no procedures in place causing chaos that month. They stopped building customs sheds; they stopped recruitment of vets and inspectors; they obstruct inspection by EU officials; they have not handed over the promised databases on customs and VAT; they are not even carrying out the inspections at ports required. They wouldn’t even put stickers on packets of sausages. Stormont has returned £5 million allocated to develop inspection structures. And then they claim it’s not working. You can see why the EU has lost patience.

Our proconsul’s dissembling interview on Sunday consisted of him blathering balderdash as long as he could, talking down the clock so Marr wouldn’t have time to ask another question for him to avoid; a disgraceful performance but it’s what we’ve come to expect. To sum it up: he works as hard as he can to prevent the protocol working and then claims it’s not working because of the EU. He takes people for fools. Does he think people can’t read the declaration at the top of this piece?

Here’s what the protocol is about. In an unprecedented concession, the EU outsourced the policing of its single market/customs union border to the UK foolishly believing, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, that this singularly untrustworthy British government would do it properly. They haven’t and they show no intention of doing so. On Thursday the can will be kicked down the road until October. By that time the EU will be able to see whether the British have done anything to fulfill their commitments. Don’t hold your breath.

The truth is that the British have no idea what to do. To operate the protocol as they agreed they will have to be honest and admit they have been lying to the public about it since 2019, first by denying they agreed the EU border is the Irish Sea. This is not going to end in October and it’s not going to end well.