Why won’t the Irish Government and EU listen to its own expert

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readOct 8, 2019


A few months ago I wrote an article about how the Irish Govt customs bosses sat in front of ‘ their own Irish Government and told them that no border infrastructure needed’

The three people questioned were.

Niall Cody, Chairman of the Board of the Irish Revenue Commissioners

Liam Irwin, then Irish Revenue Commissioner

John Callinan, Head of Economic, International & Northern Ireland Division, Taoiseach Department.

They told the Taoiseach under sworn testimony that

No checks at the border will be required

Declarations will be electronic, customs checks at warehouses and away from the border

No plans for anything along the border

82% of goods imports are already under the system proposed by the UK.

You can read the original article here

The EU and the Irish Government only like experts who give the ‘right’ answers

The testimony of these three Irish State experts was not helpful to the EU nor to the Irish Government. They show that the UK Government’s assertion that the Irish border issue can be solved by relatively simple measures — most of which actually apply today — are correct.

This is Proof that the EU has prevented a Northern Ireland border solution for three years

For the EU this has always been political — it’s about punishing the UK
For the Irish Government, this has always been about pursuing a united Ireland.

Devastating testimonies condemn Irish Government and EU, over NI and Brexit

For three years the EU and the Irish Government have prevented UK and Irish Customs from agreeing on a straightforward solution for the Irish border question.

It was clear from the outset that — as a result of the EU Referendum — UK and Irish customs authorities would have to discuss and agree on new arrangements for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Existing border arrangements on the Irish border have always been ‘different’

Given the relatively open border since the 1990s, special arrangements have already existed for many years. There has always been a border in Customs and Revenue terms because of the two countries’ different tax regimes, different excise duties, different VAT rates, and even different currencies.

Here is Mr Niall Cody, Chairman of the Board of the Irish Revenue Commissioners, giving testimony to a Committee of the Irish Parliament in 2017. He was asked about existing arrangements for controlling the border and gave the details for the previous year.

“The vast majority of these checks were carried out in approved warehouses and other premises with a very small number at a port or airport. The low level of import checks is the result of pre-authorisation of traders, advance lodgement of declarations and an extensive system of post-clearance checks, including customs audit, which are carried out at traders’ premises.”

“Authorised economic operators, AEOs, have a special status in the system and under agreed protocols are allowed to operate greatly simplified customs procedures. There are currently 133 AEOs, which account for 82% of all imports and 89% of exports. It will be very important that the bulk of trade continues to be through AEOs after Brexit.”

Niall Cody, Chairman of the Board of the Irish Revenue Commissioners, testimony in 2017

So why didn’t Irish and UK Customs get together to agree to extend existing border arrangements?

It is clear from the testimonies of the most senior Customs officials on both sides of the border — the department heads with the expertise — that they were prevented from talking to each other by the EU and by the Irish government.

“We are not in any form of negotiation or even having any discussion with the UK at this point.”

- Liam Irwin, then Irish Revenue Commissioner

Q: “Could Mr Cody clarify whether there is a legal impediment to negotiations between us and — — -“

Niall Cody (Chairman of Irish Customs): “Yes.”

Q “ — — -so we can have discussions but not negotiations?”

Niall Cody “The European Union will be negotiating with the United Kingdom in regard to Brexit.”

  • Senior Irish Revenue officials, testimony to the Dáil committee in 2017

And here is what the UK Customs boss said“There are no formal conversations with either the French or the Irish. We cannot talk to Customs or taxation management organisations in either of those countries.”- Sir Jon Thompson, Chief Executive of HM Revenue and Customs, giving evidence to the Exiting the European Union Committee, 29 Nov 2017

Finally, here is Michel Barnier, EU Chief Brexit Negotiator
Two years ago Michel Barnier was caught on a hidden camera in a meeting with Guy Verhofstadt, the EU Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, discussing the use of Ireland.

“For me, there is also a strategic and tactical reason, which is using Ireland for future negotiations. Isolating Ireland and not closing this point, leaving it open for the next two or three years.”

Michel Barnier, Chief EU Negotiator, caught on camera by the BBC4 documentary.

If the EU and the Irish Government had been remotely interested in preserving the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland, what would have been more logical than for the civil servants responsible for each side of the border to discuss new arrangements?

Instead, the Irish side has been banned from doing so for the last three years. This was a deliberate act.

A quick solution to altered arrangements for the NI border sorted out by those who know the most about it — the Customs teams on each side — was not in the EU’s interests. The EU wished to use the border as one of their three pre-emptive issues to prevent trade being talked about and to keep the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union. In this, they have succeeded to this day.

And what of the Irish politicians involved in this?

The EU had a willing partner in this subterfuge in the form of the fiercely nationalist Irish government of Messrs Varadkar and Coveney.

Despite a ‘no deal’ Brexit being catastrophic for the Irish economy, it is my opinion that they put their own political considerations above the interests of their own people, and effectively weaponised this issue.

In so doing, they have been played by Brussels. It remains to be seen if the Irish people will ever forgive them.

[ Sources: Irish Parliament | UK Parliament | BBC4 documentary ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.