As an Irish resident of Northampton for more than 30 years now, I was surprised and very disappointed to read the letter from Nigel Wickens, of Yardley Gobion.
Mr Wickens seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that the Irish government are in cahoots with the EU negotiating team simply to frustrate the UK’s exit deal. His factually incorrect assertions that we Irish are freeloaders using UK infrastructure to get to our continental markets is simply baffling.
Quite apart from the fact that many of my fellow countrymen built the roads and infrastructure in the first place, can he not see the irony in calling out their use within the realms of free movement.
Most of the produce he complains of being transported on UK roads is actually for UK consumption and is not, in fact, for onward distribution to the continent. Does Mr Wickens not know that Ireland has direct ferry and air routes for the much smaller proportion of goods in transit to mainland Europe? It is the very real risk of Ireland losing sales of fresh food and beverage products to their main market that has required our government to ensure our voice is heard.
Like many others who have migrated to the UK since the days of British rule in the Irish Republic, we have contributed in our labour, enterprise and no small amounts of taxation, let me tell him. Europe’s largest airline flies those planes that Mr Wickens speaks of banning from the UK skies; Michael O Leary would not agree that their fees for use of UK airport facilities is free of charge, the CEO of the company once known as British Airways is an Irishman and we Irish are major employers inside the UK economy.
I would say our proximity to one another has been hugely enriching to both communities, both socially and economically whilst the part played by Irish doctors and nurses working in the NHS is recognised by most but perhaps not this gentleman.
The thought that the UK should exclude itself from every contact with Ireland as punishment for our role in sincerely regretting the UK’s expression of its wish to withdraw from the EU is just plain sad. His is an argument of isolationism and smacks of bullying.
On reflection he may see that the Irish delegation are seen by the UK government as an invaluable ally in these talks. After all we may be gutted that you are leaving but we are looking to the future and I would urge Mr Wickens to consider doing likewise.
Brendan Bruder, Northampton