Plans outlined for new border Customs control post at Cairnryan Port
The Border Control Post will be used to inspect goods arriving from the EU, including via Northern Ireland.
By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Government is preparing to create a new customs checkpoint in at Cairnryan Port on the Wigtonshire-South Ayrshire border with Dumfries and Galloway as a consequence of Brexit.
Checkpoint Paddy will be a huge inconvenience to the Irish diaspora in Scotland and Northern Ireland and to the thousands of Celtic, Rangers and Scotland rugby fans who travel back and forward regularly to watch sport in Belfast and Dublin.
Thousands of Rangers fans travel to Scotland each week for matches in Glasgow and elsewhere and members of Orange Lodge flute bands travel to Belfast in July at the height of the marching season.
The prospect of queues at the Customs and possibility of lengthy hold-ups is not something they will appreciate.
It will also, of course, hit the commercial traffic, lorries, vans and private cars, which use the port to transport goods to and from both sides of the Irish border.
The announcement is the latest that will drive Scotland’s Irish Catholic community away from voting for the SNP at the May parliamentary election.
They are already smarting from the fact that Celtic were unjustifiably excoriated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for travelling to a winter break training camp in Dubai during lockdown when the government had told the club officially that there would be no problem with that.
A group of Scotland’s churches are in the process of lobbying very publicly about delaying the part of the government Hate Crimes Bill and there is the ongoing which deals with controversial transgender matters.
Scotland’s Catholic bishops are privately furious at the pandemic lockdown rules which forbid significant services to take place in their churches right up to the eve of Easter Sunday, which to Catholics, is more important than Christmas.
Sir Harry Burns and the Rt Rev Martin Fair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Their committee of special advisers on lockdown includes Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s former chief medical officer.
They consider that with proper social distancing there would be no need to ban congregations from services in churches, which are usually large with plenty of space.
Following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement in parliament about services on Tuesday, A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said: “While the announcement that that ‘communal worship’ is expected to resume on or around 5th April is a welcome one, as that date is Easter Sunday, it is hoped that restrictions will be lifted in advance, since Holy Week is a central part of the Catholic calendar.”
The Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, was more ameliorative but not actually warmly welcoming of the Sturgeon statement.
He said: “We note the First Minister’s comments about the possibility of church buildings being allowed to open for Easter and acknowledge that many people will be delighted to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Christians are Easter people and we live with hope in all circumstances – hope that has sustained us through this last year.
“The announcement in the Scottish Parliament today is a good beginning to a return to normality and we look forward to further progress in the easing of restrictions.
“However, individual congregations will proceed cautiously according to their own circumstances and will only re-open buildings when it’s safe for them to do so.”
Under phased stages from April 1, goods entering the UK will be subject to the same border entry requirement and controls as goods from the rest of the world under the terms of the Brexit deal.
The Border Control Post (BCP) at Cairnryan will be used to inspect goods arriving in Scotland from the Republic of Ireland and the wider EU via Northern Ireland.
Alex Salmond, the Rev Ian Paisley and Danny Kennedy MSL at the opening of the new ferryport.
Checks on animals, fish, plants, food and feed are required to ensure products entering the market do not present a risk to public health, and these checks are the responsibility of Scottish Ministers.
Scotland’s Constitution Secretary, Mike Russell, said: “This move is a direct consequence of a Brexit that people in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected.
“In these circumstances it is a practical, common sense and timely action to provide additional planning certainty while detailed proposals are developed and a site for this post is selected.
“Time is of the essence.
“We are also still waiting to hear whether HMRC would like to use the site for their responsibilities.
“But by laying this SDO, the Scottish Government, for its own part, is preparing to move as speedily and effectively as it can.”
The UK Government requires the BCP to be established in the second half of 2021.
Once an appropriate site has been selected, a site-specific planning consent will have to be obtained before construction can get underway, and the SDO requires engagement to be carried out with various parties before this approval can be sought.
The Scottish Government said that 2.59 million tonnes of freight entered the ports at Cairnryan and Lochryan in 2019, which equates to approximately 400,000 freight movements.
An alternative route for these goods would need to be found if a BCP is not provided at Cairnryan.