How to fortify a 303 mile long border after Brexit....
IT’S a real pain to even hint that the cock-eyed surrealism of Cameron’s ‘ brain fade’ which led to the ’16 Referendum, offers anything to anyone. The expanse of that man’s sclerotic wanderings haunts us. The problems which will now be left to the constructors to redress are too hard to contemplate. Hurray to them for making their case so well.
Before I present a plain but overwhelming narration adding to the case which the FMB makes, I do have to deal with an unease which unsettles me when the term ’Northern Ireland’ is used by people who are otherwise sensible and beneficial to society in general. The adjectival is irrational and unscientific.
I was talking about my sensitivity in this regard at a Set Dance Ceili class in Chicago recently. My interlocutor – a retired craftsman in a high building working life there - was not impressed by my case being built on true scientific facts. That is: that Inishtrahull, the most northerly point in County Donegal and therefore of Ireland, lies at latitude 55degrees, 25mins N. And therefore – in terminology which accepts the adjective ‘north’- it must, logically, lie in the ‘south’! To save you ‘googling’ all this, Rathlin Island lies at 55degrees, 19mins N. There you go.
Anyway, Tony, a man who has obviously lived in a far tougher world than me, told me that when confronted by the adjective, he dealt with it by assuming that the person concerned was talking about county Donegal! I promised to give that a ‘go’ when I could.
Which brings me to what the FMB is greatly worried about; and I have to agree with them. It all goes back to the border, and sealing it. However, I am privileged to be able to add further and massively aggravating data to what would really have to happen to secure a hard border. Now this is not costed; but it is the firm, informed, reviewed conclusion made by someone who was in a place to know. A British Army Officer.
He is Brigadier Peter Morton. I am greatly indebted to the gifted author, Garrett Carr who in his incisive, fascinating and moving work quoted the experienced Brigadier’s data. Garrett’s book is a most riveting read; not ‘putdownable’ indeed. Its title is “The Rule of the Land”. By the way it seems that Donegal has a virtual monopoly on wisdom; Garrett is also from there!
I’m convinced that any Irish Brexiteer who reads it will finally find themselves near enough the release button to press it so as to relief themselves from imminent woe. It is too frightening to relate the full extent of what is REALLY required to be completed. But here’s a taste; and if you think it’s an exaggeration then I will challenge you to prove that you have a longer service record on the Border than Brigadier Morton.
Remember the Border is 303 miles long, more or less. To fortify it securely would require: that length to be flattened with a 6-metre-wide strip; that length of high tech fencing; with ploughed and harrowed vehicle track; 300,000 explosive charges; 165 miles of vehicle hazards;100 command posts; 100 bunkers; 1,000 arc lights etc., etc.
Then the cost of vital staff: to recruit, train, pay, feed and support the thousands of personnel involved. To be included would have to the cost of organising and supporting the people to staff the bloody and savage interactions which could arise. Ah… don’t forget that completion of the basics would work on the assumption that what was being done would go unchallenged! Now there’s a thing! The Irish Independent journalist with wide experience in this environment, writes (23 October 2017), of the “threat posed by dissident republicans, armed vigilantes, and criminal gangs.”
There must be a way in which the sheer insanity of even sorting out the manner in which the situation should be approached can be clarified. Sadly, the efforts of the British government over the last few months offer no sign of starting to look at the ‘doable’ and not the ‘Brexitable’. Yours, J.K.McCarthy.