How to for­tify a 303 mile long bor­der af­ter Brexit....

Drogheda Independent - - OPINION -

Dear Sir,

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.

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