Revealed: Personal injury payouts four times higher in Ireland than in UK

Payouts for personal injuries in Ireland are on average 4.4 times higher than in the UK, an analysis of the insurance payouts in both jurisdictions has found.

The analysis was carried out by the government’s Personal Injuries Commission and has been submitted to Business Minister Heather Humphreys, with a series of recommendations on how to tackle high insurance costs.

Personal injury claims generally arise from motor, workplace or public place accidents, or medical negligence incidents. They can be resolved through direct settlement between parties, through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) or through the Courts.

Ireland operates a fault-based system in relation to injury claims. The legislative/constitutional framework in Ireland is that the victim of an accident caused by the negligence of others is entitled to be compensated by the liable party.

While it was known that the payouts for injuries by Irish courts was higher, the difference of more than four times the average was unanticipated.

According to the report, Ireland has a very high frequency of ‘whiplash’ claims, and that ‘whiplash’ compensation levels are also significantly higher.

It is estimated that 80pc of motor personal injury claims currently reported are ‘whiplash’ related. When compared to the UK, the whiplash claims are on an average three times higher.

The report concludes that soft-tissue injuries account for a large proportion of claims by volume in Ireland.

The Personal Injury Commission was established to investigate and report on different compensation models after car insurance premiums shot upto 70% between 2015 to 2017. The PIC was  also tasked with investigating the potential for the establishment of a panel of medical experts for use in Court which would restrict the parties in personal injury proceedings to using experts from a panel designated by the Courts.

The PIC report was led by Nicholas Kearns, former president of the High Court. Reportedly, the second and final report by the PIC has been finalised is scheduled to be published in August or September.

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'Heartbreak, heroism and abiding friendship' – two years capturing New York's police

New York, New York – home to 8.6 million residents, with 63 million people visiting it every year.

The challenge facing the 36,000 members of NYPD in making the city safe is something most of us can’t begin to comprehend.

Irish Independent photographer Mark Condren has documented their work after spending two years embedded with the NYPD. He was tasked to do so by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. The result is his new book NYPD: Behind the Scenes With the Men and Women of the New York City Police Department.

The book was officially launched by Commissioner O’Neill last weekend, garnering publicity on NBC and Fox News.

“There are images of heartbreak, heroism and abiding friendship; of melancholy and surprising beauty. One page might remind me that being a cop here can be the hardest job anywhere; the next makes me think that there isn’t a job in the world that’s half as much fun,” the Commissioner said.

It’s not Condren’s first experience documenting a police force. The son of a retired garda sergeant, he is married to serving garda Michelle. The couple have three children – Ben (12), Aaron (9) and four-year-old Emma.

Ben has Type 1 diabetes – and in 2009, Mark decided he wanted to raise funds for Temple Street Children’s Hospital who had been treating his son for his condition.

“With this in mind, I approached the gardaí and asked them if I could do a book with them.”

In 2011, Mark’s book The Guards: A Year Behind the Scene with the Men and Women of An Garda Síochána was published, and marked the first-ever photographic portrait of gardaí by a photojournalist.

“So I was embedded with gardaí for two years, then we brought out a coffee table book. It was the Christmas No 1 that year, selling 7,500 copies in two weeks. It was a massive success,” he says.

“I was in New York after the book was released, and I was just wondering what it would be like to be an NYPD officer.

“Anyway, I was lucky enough to know someone in Ireland who is a cousin of Pat Sullivan, a lieutenant in the NYPD.

“So I contacted him – and he managed to get me a meeting with Commissioner James O’Neill. It took a year to get the meeting but it happened.

“I gave the garda book to the commissioner – that book was my business card.

“Even though the commissioner didn’t know me, he saw the book and said we had to do the same for the NYPD. And that’s how it started.

“And so I started flying back and forth to New York over two years – while still working full-time. It would be a few days here and there. I would be embedded with NYPD officers on patrol.

“I wanted to try and capture everything. It was not about kicking doors down, or blood and guts. It was about capturing as many aspects as I could in the life of an NYPD officer.”

Clad in a bulletproof vest, Mark was put in a patrol car with an officer, following official units to calls.

So was he nervous while out on patrol?

“There were times I would have been nervous – there were a couple of times when I had to run after people. But I always felt safe as I had somebody with me at all times. When it came to gun calls and stabbing, you just have to keep your wits about you. It’s not like what it is in the movies – I didn’t just take my camera out and start shooting. You have to be discreet and precise – I was very aware that I could put officers in danger by carelessly taking out my camera. I had to be very aware of my surroundings and the situation facing officers, and make the right judgment call or we could all be in trouble,” he explains.

“One night when I was out on patrol, we were at a call for a problem in a nightclub, then we got a call for an officer who needed assistance at a stabbing, and after that an hour is a blur. Everything moves so fast – New York just doesn’t stop for police officers.”

One image where Mark admits his adrenalin is pumping is of two officers, armed with guns, clearing a stairwell in a residential block of flats as they answer a gun call.

“The tower block was roughly 12-storeys high. Officers have to clear each stairwell as they progress through the building so that is what this picture captures. Officers do not know what’s around the corner and where a suspected gunman could be, so they have to exercise huge caution for their own safety and safety of civilians in that environment,” he explains.

“The camaraderie between the officers is amazing – they have each other’s back. Like they do in every police force, but in New York, when they roll out, they roll out big. There’s no messing”.

While they deal with serious crime, there are other matters which must be managed – like the safe removal of beehives.

“One day, a call came on the radio saying there was a beehive on a water hydrant in the middle of Manhattan. I then heard on the radio that the beehive unit was en route. The beehive officer is in the Emergency Support Unit and he arrived on the scene in beekeeper gear, and safely removed the hive from the water hydrant and took it away to another location.

“The Mounted Unit is another busy unit – they have their own mobile farrier. His name is Tommy and he’s from Co Clare. He goes around the city all day in his van, changing hundreds of shoes of NYPD horses,” Mark says.

Mark admits he was surprised by the amount of first generation Irish people who are NYPD officers. “I met a girl from Swords at their training academy. And I was out with Officer Brian O’Donnell, who is from Banagher, Co Offaly, and was seriously injured by someone wielding a meat cleaver in 2016.

“Some of the Irish I met there have this fascination with the NYPD and that’s why they came to New York – but I suppose it’s the biggest police force in the world, so why wouldn’t they?”

In terms of policing, Mark says policing in New York and Ireland have much in common with one another.

“Policing is a vocation. It is not an easy job – the shift work is not easy. And while many of us do shift work, the scenarios and situations police officers can find themselves in the course of their work are often not easy.

“Policing is the same in both Ireland and New York – but there is one major difference. The NYPD has so many dedicated units with officers assigned to them. In Ireland, you could be a uniform garda but still take part in raids, man checkpoints, go on patrol – your assignments could vary every day. You wouldn’t have the same day-to-day variety in New York, where you are assigned to a dedicated unit.”

From the outset, Mark decided he did not want his book to be focussed purely on serious crime. “I wanted the images in the book to flow and be of a certain standard. I was thinking of my kids – I don’t want to have to hide my book in the house because it has dead bodies. I want children everywhere to be able to see this.”

So he aimed to capture every facet of life in the NYPD.

His images show officers playing with children on a hot summer’s day.

“The fire department turn on the water hydrants during the summer – NYPD officers will often turn on the sprinklers and cool the children down as they play on the street during peak summer time.

“It’s more of a tradition than a health thing, but the kids love it and it c

ools them down. It also helps build a positive relationship between the NYPD officers and children,” Mark explains. “Overall, NYPD officers enjoy an excellent relationship.

“I often heard people telling them to stay safe and ‘thank you for protecting us’. The pubic admire them,” he adds.

Mark shows the other extreme in his book – with an image of two very stern looking officers from the Counter Terrorism Unit outside Trump Tower (on the Review cover).

“They are outside Trump Tower 24/7 and have been in place since President Trump’s election to the White House in 2016. They won’t have any real interaction with members of the public – they are required to be 100pc focussed on the job at hand, and are armed with the most powerful of weaponry available to NYPD officers,” he says.

The book will be launched in Ireland by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar next month and will be on sale in Irish bookshops from December 10. Mark Condren has been named PPAI Photographer of the Year on four occasions, and has won numerous awards for his work which has taken him all over the world.

  • ‘NYPD’ is available to order at markcondren.com

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WATCH: TD Noel Rock to propose new legislation for electric scooters

A Dublin TD who bought an electric scooter to zip in and out of the Dail says that it’s time to liberalise the law around them.

Fine Gael’s Noel Rock, who travels in to Leinster House on the scooter from his Santry home five miles away, says that there are over 1,000 electric scooters on city roads.

But Irish law suggests that such rechargeable scooters are no different from motorbikes, requiring tax, insurance and a licence.

Rock says that it’s time to treat the devices, which travel at speeds of up to 25kph, more like bicycles.

“The law in Ireland, as it stands, is out of date when it comes to these vehicles,” he said.

“In most European countries, these vehicles are treated the same as electric assisted bicycles. In Ireland, however, they exist in something of a grey area and their legal status is very much open to interpretation as to whether or not it is a mechanically propelled vehicle. Given the vehicle needs a manual ‘kickstart’ intervention and reach a minimum speed of 5km/h manually to start operation, it is different from a purely mechanical vehicle. Accordingly, this needs to be amended and clarified.”

Rock’s comments come after the mobile operator Three started selling Xiaomi’s Mi electric scooter for €450. The scooter, which needs to be kickstarted to work, can travel at speeds of up to 25kph and a single charge will last between 15km and 20km.

A spokeswoman for the Road Safety Authority told Independent.ie that scooters such as the Xiaomi model, even though they require a manual start like an electric bicycle, still need to be taxed and insured under existing Irish law.

“As it is classed as the Mechanically propelled Vehicle, under current legislation it falls within the scope of the law,” she said.

But Rock said that more people are turning to the devices as an antidote to gridlocked traffic.

“In most European countries, forward thinking policy makers recognise that these environmentally friendly, low powered, electric vehicles are part of a sustainable transport mix,” he said. “In Ireland, they are growing in popularity with over 1,000 on our roads. It’s time to act now on this matter and legislate.”

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Attorney General on Brussels mission to examine legal pitfalls of Brexit deal

Ireland’s Attorney General travelled to Brussels last week to discuss the legal implications of a potential Brexit deal.

Séamus Woulfe met with a series of senior officials, as the Brexit talks entered the “last-chance saloon”, the Irish Independent understands.

One source insisted the move “wouldn’t be out of course”, but a Cabinet minister observed that Mr Woulfe can play no role in the negotiations.

“He wouldn’t be going to get involved in the negotiations but he can provide advice on the implications of what is being proposed,” the minister said.

The move will heighten expectations that the ingredients for a legally operable ‘Irish backstop’, which will prevent a hard Border under any circumstances, are now in place.

Sources say there are now a number of options on the table for what the final withdrawal agreement will look like.

However, EU leaders remain steadfast in their view that the next move must come from London.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will once again broach the question of the Border with her divided Cabinet tomorrow.

One source said this would be a “last-chance saloon” if she is to have any hope of a special EU summit of leaders being called before the end of the month.

“The deal is not done, but there are options there to close this out,” said one official.

The view in Dublin is that Mrs May needs to give a “signal” tomorrow as to whether she wants to proceed or not.

There is an expectation that if the prime minister doesn’t push a deal with her own ministers in the next 48 hours then the EU may remove the option on a November summit altogether.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said progress is being made towards a definitive Brexit deal, but that it is slow.

“I have the impression that we are moving slowly but surely towards a definitive Brexit deal which should be concluded in the weeks to come,” Mr Juncker told France 24 in an interview yesterday.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier will brief foreign ministers on developments this morning.

Afterwards he will have a private meeting with Tánaiste Simon Coveney to discuss the blockages still linked to the so-called ‘Irish backstop’.

Speaking on his departure to Brussels, Mr Coveney said the negotiations were at a “very critical and sensitive stage”.

“Clear and focused thinking is now required if a satisfactory agreement is to be reached,” he said.

“We want an agreement to be reached as soon as possible but urgency is required.

“The EU and Ireland’s position remains clear and consistent.

“The withdrawal agreement must include a legally operable backstop for avoiding a hard Border that must be in place unless and until another solution is found. Any review mechanism must be in line with this.

“All sides agree that this is essential in order to protect the Good Friday Agreement and our peace process.”

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Rare sharks' nursery of 'mermaid's purses' eggs found off the west coast

Scientists have discovered a “very rare” shark nursery more than 300km off the west coast.

So-called ‘mermaid’s purses’, or eggs, were discovered littered across the seabed during an exploration of Ireland’s deep ocean territory, with large numbers filmed at depths of up to 750 metres.

Marine scientists say such large concentrations of eggs are rarely recorded, and suggest that females may gather in the area. A nearby coral reef might also act as a refuge for juvenile shark pups when they hatch.

The nursery was discovered during the SeaRover survey undertaken last July, which was exploring Ireland’s deep-water coral reef systems.

A large school of Blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus) was present at the site, and scientists said the eggs were likely to be from this species.

But a second more unusual and solitary species, the Sailfin roughshark (Oxynotus paradoxus), was also observed.

This is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning it may become extinct in the near future. It grows up to 1.2 metres in length, and while not observed by the science team, it may have been feeding on the eggs.

The findings were announced at the INFOMAR seabed mapping seminar in Kinsale, where footage captured by the Marine Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland 1, deployed on board the ILV Granuaile, was revealed.

The chief scientist on the SeaRover survey, David O’Sullivan, said the nursery was on a scale not previously documented in Irish waters.

“No pups were obvious at the site and it is believed that the adult sharks might be utilising degraded coral reef and exposed carbonate rock on which to lay their eggs,” he said.

“A healthy coral reef in the vicinity may act as a refuge for the juvenile shark pups once they hatch. This discovery shows the significance of documenting sensitive marine habitats, and will give us a better understanding of the biology of these beautiful animals and their ecosystem function in Ireland’s biologically sensitive area.

“It is anticipated that further study of the site will answer some important scientific questions on the biology and ecology of deep water sharks in Irish waters.”

The discovery highlights the importance of mapping seabed habitats, and the nursery was observed within one of six offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in Irish waters.

These host a diverse range of marine animals including sea fans, sponges, worms, starfish, crustaceans and a variety of fish species.

The survey is the second of three commissioned and jointly funded by the Irish Government and the EU.

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Cocaine and 'party' drug use soaring again as improving economy sends wealth rising

There has been a resurgence in demand for “party” drugs in Ireland as the economy has improved, a new report has warned.

The Cross Border Organised Crime Threat Assessment report for 2018 says cocaine use is nearing its 2007 peak, and crack cocaine and prescription drug abuse will require more focus from gardaí and the PSNI.

The report, which gives an insight into organised criminal activity, says cocaine is second only to cannabis in its attractiveness for gangs.

The drug, which retails at approximately €70 per gram, is in constant demand across a wide variety of areas from urban centres to rural villages, the report notes.

“It is as yet unclear if the consumption of cocaine has returned to its 2007 peak and stabilised, but anecdotal evidence suggests that such a return is likely to occur soon if that has not already happened,” it states.

“In a similar vein, MDMA and related drugs have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years resulting from the economic recovery.”

Meanwhile, while “still not a drug of national scale,” the report notes crack cocaine will require increasing attention into the future.

It says that “while the more traditional drug importation routes remain in place on both sides of the Border, the advent of the ‘dark net’ as well as the development of numerous, bespoke, psychoactive substances and the abuse of prescription medications” has led to significant diversification in both drug abuse and organised crime groups activity.

The report was released as the 16th annual cross-border organised crime conference opened yesterday at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down.

The conference brings together representatives from government departments, An Garda, the PSNI, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and Revenue Commissioners.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, who attended the meeting, said he was committed to ensuring very close North-South co-operation on criminal justice matters.

“I am keenly aware of the threat posed by criminals who seek to exploit the Border,” he said.

Among the issues highlighted in the report is the use of “mules” by criminals to launder money.

This involves a person’s bank account being used to receive monies which have resulted from a criminal act.

The stolen money is then transferred into the “mule” account where it is withdrawn and transferred back to the criminal, with a fee being paid in most cases to the account holder.

The report also warns the “dark web” is likely to see an increase in firearms availability for use by criminals.

The gardaí and PSNI said issues such as human trafficking will remain at the top of their agenda. The report notes “the exploitation of human beings poses significant societal and law enforcement challenges in both jurisdictions”.

This year, Ireland has seen a larger proportion of human trafficking cases, involving trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation, which is “of concern”, particularly in certain industries, with the fishing industry being especially susceptible.

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Improving economy leads to rise in demand for 'party drugs' in Ireland – new report

THE improving economic conditions in Ireland over recent years has led to a resurgence in demand for “party drugs” like cocaine and MDMA, according to a new report.

The Cross Border Organised Crime Threat Assessment Report 2018, which looks at criminal activity on the island of Ireland, said that retailing at approximately €70 per gram and in constant demand across a wide variety of areas, cocaine is second only to cannabis in its attractiveness for organised criminal groups.

“It is as yet unclear if the consumption of cocaine has returned to its 2007 peak and stabilised, but anecdotal evidence suggests that such a return is likely to occur soon if that has not already happened,” it said.

The report was released as the sixteenth annual cross border organised crime conference, which opened today at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down.

The conference on the theme of “Shared Problems, Shared Solutions” takes place over two days, and brought together representatives from government departments, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, gardai, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and customs and Revenue Commissioners.

At today’s session, the threat assessment report jointly prepared by the PSNI and gardai for the conference provided those present with an update into organised criminality on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described work in preparation for Brexit as “well advanced” and said it was set against a context of strong co-operation between both organisations, and strong relationships which have been built up.

“But we do require the legal underpinnings that allow us to share information, vehicles like the European Arrest warrant, all of those are important on the island of Ireland in terms of keeping people safe and the policing service that we provide.

“But we will be re-doubling our efforts around cross border strategy, looking to that and then identifying what we think maybe gaps in powers, gaps in policing powers that may open up, and how those can be addressed,” he said.

Commissioner Harris said that “the issues for us are the impact of anti-social behaviour, local crime and the extent of travel that there is backwards and forwards across the border, and how criminals may use that to facilitate their activities and all forms of criminality, and also then the threat from organised crime.”

“Our strategy is to work together to prevent crime,” he said.

The report looks at a wide variety of issues including human trafficking, money laundering, rural crime, and excise fraud.

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Ireland says Britain cannot unilaterally scrap border backstop

DUBLIN (REUTERS) – Ireland is willing to examine ways in which a “backstop” to keep the Irish border open after Brexit could be reviewed so long as it does not permit Britain to unilaterally walk away from it, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Monday (Nov 5).

The sides in the negotiations have signalled progress on agreeing customs arrangements for an emergency Irish border fix but differences persist on the lifespan of the so-called”backstop”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop in a phone call on Monday with Varadkar that she had sought to update him on the current state of the talks, the Irish government said in a statement.

“The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop,” the statement said.

“He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply ‘unless and until’ alternative arrangements are agreed.”

May told Varadkar that there would need to be a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end, a spokesman from her office said in a statement.

The phone call followed a report by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that May’s Brexit Minister Dominic Raab had privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the backstop after three months.

Varadkar separately told reporters that an expiry date of that nature would not be worth the paper it is written on.

With just five months until Britain is due to exit the EU, May has yet to nail down a divorce deal, with the Irish border insurance arrangement to keep open the border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland still the outstanding issue.

Cautious optimism that a deal between the EU and London may be in the offing has also been dampened by uncertainty over whether such an agreement would pass the British parliament.

“NOT THERE YET”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney had earlier said that neither Ireland nor the EU would ever sign up to a an agreement that could be ended unilaterally. Coveney was later quoted as saying a “middle-ground position” on the backstop arrangement could be found, but added it must be legally sound.

The latest proposal on the backstop, according to sources in Brussels, would keep all of the United Kingdom in a customs arrangement with the EU, as London has sought. That would include Northern Ireland, as the bloc has insisted.

But London and the EU have still not agreed how long such an insurance policy would last. Britain wants to limit it while the EU says any clear cut-off date attached to the backstop would defeat its purpose.

A senior EU official told Reuters the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has yet to inform the 27 states that”decisive progress” has been made in the talks.

Such a recommendation from Barnier is needed for European Council President Donald Tusk to call a special summit of EU leaders to endorse any Brexit deal.

After a meeting in Dublin on Friday with Britain’s Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, both Coveney and Lidington said the two sides were “very close” to resolving differences on the border issue.

Lidington also said London would stand by the written commitments it had already made on the backstop, which include the agreement that it would apply unless and until a better solution is found.

The EU has suggested that the tweaked “two-tier” backstop covering all of the UK could give mainland Britain some scope to set its own trade rules while keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the EU.

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Irish PM: Brexit undermines Good Friday Agreement

Uncertainty about the status of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a major obstacle in Brexit talks.

    Brexit has “undermined” the landmark Good Friday Agreement, which in 1998 ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

    Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTE on Saturday, the prime minister – known as the Taoiseach – also said the United Kingdom’s split from the European Union was “fraying” the relationship between Britain and Ireland and risked dividing communities in Northern Ireland.

    The border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and Ireland has been one of the major sticking points in the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU in March next year.

    Preserving the Irish border in its current form is considered essential by all sides in the Brexit negotiations because it is a key part of the Good Friday Agreement.

    The historic deal, signed 20 years ago as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, resulted in a dramatic reduction in sectarian violence – known as the Troubles – that plagued the region for three decades and resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people.

    The agreement, which was reached after two years of US-facilitated talks, set out plans for a devolved, power-sharing government in Northern Ireland and outlined how the relationship between the region and the rest of the UK would work on a number of issues, including trade.

    Varadkar has been among those who have raised concerns that alterations to trade relations between the two regions risk the validity of the whole agreement, which is also under threat by prolonged feuding between the pro-union DUP and nationalist Sinn Fein parties, which has prevented Northern Ireland’s government from functioning for more than a year.

    Speaking at an event in Belfast in April to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, former Unionist leader David Trimble had rejected that Brexit was a threat to the deal. 

    “Brexit is one thing, the agreement is completely different,” he told reporters at the time. “There is no interaction between them at all. But what is happening at the moment is that some people are trying to use Brexit to undermine the agreement.”

    The border issue

    All sides in the Brexit negotiations are committed to avoiding a so-called “hard border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which could include checks and constructing a physical barrier. However, an agreement on how to prevent this has yet to be reached.

    Currently, goods and services are traded between Ireland and Northern Ireland with few restrictions as both are part of the single market and customs union.

    However, the uncertainty around what the final Brexit deal – if UK Prime Minister Theresa May is able to secure one before the March 29, 2019, deadline – will entail has raised concerns. 

    “If [the UK is] not part of the single market or the customs union, then the EU is obliged under World Trade Organization rules to police its external borders, for want of a better way of putting it, and its external border then becomes the border in Northern Ireland,” Nigel Driffield, a professor of international business at Warwick University, told Al Jazeera.

    In December 2017, the UK and EU signed the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, signing up to the idea of creating a “backstop” or safety net for the border issue – a measure intended to ensure that the current frictionless border will remain open regardless of what happened in subsequent Brexit negotiations. 

    However, this will only take effect if the talks between the UK and the EU fail to produce a deal on trade. Meanwhile, there have already been several obstacles to reaching an agreement on exactly how the backstop will work and for how long it will be required. The bloc’s position is that the backstop should affect only Northern Ireland, and not the UK as a whole, as this would allow the country to enjoy the benefits of EU membership without the accompanying commitments.

    The UK does not want separate status for Northern Ireland as this risks undermining its integrity. May’s ruling Conservative party is currently dependent on a coalition with the DUP party, who would be likely to vote against such an agreement.


    UpFront

    Does Brexit mean chaos for the UK?

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    Free flights offer to Irish people living in Australia if they move back for jobs

    Free flights will be offered to Irish people in Australia to move back to Ireland to fill thousands of job vacancies.

    Gifts of air tickets are intended to tempt young people who emigrated to Australia in huge numbers in recent years to return to their homeland.

    Irish firm FRS Recruitment has organised roadshows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to be held between November 8 and 13.

    The company stated that Ireland currently has 12,000 IT job vacancies, more than 2,500 jobs in MedTech firms, 2,300 jobs in the agri-food sector, 150 vacancies for doctors, 100 other healthcare sector jobs, and 120 professional posts in construction, and large numbers of financial sector vacancies.

    In 2008, about 10,000 people left Ireland for Australia. The same numbers travelled in later years, peaking at 18,000 in 2012. Two years ago, more than 6,000 moved there from Ireland.

    Those who attend the roadshows will get a lot of practical advice on moving back.

    While the free flights offer extends to all sectors, FRS will be targeting personnel who wish to work in the construction, IT, healthcare, medical device/pharmaceutical and financial sectors.

    Colin Donnery, general manager of FRS Recruitment, said: “As the country is moving closer to full employment, it is becoming more difficult to find suitably qualified personnel.

    “Companies in Ireland are increasingly looking further afield to find people to fill important roles. For these companies, it is about finding the right candidate that meets their needs.

    “During the recession a lot of qualified, educated people left these shores to seek out opportunities that simply were no longer available in Ireland.

    “Australia was a particularly popular location, given the thriving jobs marketplace Down Under at that time. Many of these ex-pats have since gone on to develop strong careers in Australia, growing their experience and maintaining impressive CVs.

    “We are aware of a significant number of ex-pats who harbour hopes of returning home. The point of the Ireland is Hiring roadshow is to help these people understand just how significant the opportunities are back in Ireland at the moment,” Mr Donnery said.

    “We hope that by providing people with job details, giving them the key salary and logistical information, while also providing them with the incentive of free flights, it will encourage more people to seriously consider applying for roles back in Ireland.

    “There are plenty of Irish people working in these sectors in Australia who would be of great interest to employers back in this country.

    “We know just how badly their skill-sets are needed in this market and how these great positions could provide a fantastic opportunity for returning home,” he added.

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