Smoke and mirrors behind the U-turn…

THE fiasco over the introduction of a smoking ban in the UK doesn’t just show how the Government is in complete disarray on the issue, it demonstrates the level of contempt it has for Northern Ireland. Announcing the ban here earlier this month, the Health Minister (a heavy smoker until recently) said “no-one has a right to subject colleagues and workmates to the dangers and hazards of second-hand smoke and passive smoking. No-one has a right to subject members of the public who do not smoke to those same dangers in enclosed public spaces.” So if that’s true, why not introduce it in England?And odd that a former (Scottish) Secretary of State (a heavy smoker until recently) should keep his powder dry when complete bans were proposed for Northern Ireland and Scotland, but create chaos in the Cabinet when the same was proposed for England and Wales.

I wonder how the ban will go down in Ballymena. The DUP is all in favour of a ban, but one of the biggest employers in Ballymena is the tobacco manufacturer Gallaher’s – in the heart of the DUP leader’s constituency and strongly opposed to the ban. How will he explain all those lost jobs?

And aren’t the DUP the least bit paranoid that they are party to an all-Ireland policy on smoking – one that doesn’t exist for the UK! ;o)

And contrary to the BBC’s repeated reporting that a ban was “agreed in Northern Ireland”, it certainly wasn’t – it was imposed. Remember Direct Rule? You only thought you were consulted.