“It was crazy to allege that the Irish government isn’t working for the interests of [northern] businesses.”

This is worth noting. It relates to Arlene’s accusation aimed at the Republic accusing them of poaching FDI opportunities away from NI.

In reply to a written question from Cavan Monaghan TD Brendan Smyth, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor noted (scroll down to Question 506) this last week:

Both agencies under the aegis of my Department, Enterprise Ireland (EI) and IDA Ireland, engage with relevant bodies in Northern Ireland to pursue areas of mutual advantage. Developing all-island initiatives and cooperation can, in certain circumstances, better build our competitive advantage internationally.

In the period 2010 to 2015, Enterprise Ireland had representation from Northern Ireland on 12 trade promotion visits while IDA involved companies from Northern Ireland on 3 occasions.

Extensive links have been forged by EI with various agencies and bodies in Northern Ireland. In particular there is close co-operation between Invest Northern Ireland (INI) and EI.

A Memorandum of Understanding is in place between EI and INI to enable clients of both agencies to access market services, trade missions/fairs, seminars and to provide INI clients with access to EI management development programmes such as Leadership 4 Growth and the International Selling Programme.

There is also close collaboration between EI, INI and InterTrade Ireland (ITI) on the specific Cross Border programmes which are run by the latter body, in order to ensure effective operation and non-duplication.

Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Invest Northern Ireland cooperated in relation to a Trade Mission to Singapore in December 2013 which was specifically targeted at companies from both jurisdictions who are active in the aerospace sector.

In 2015 and 2016 IDA Ireland in co-operation with EI, Department of Foreign Affairs and INI hosted a dinner in the Irish Embassy in London to coincide with the Irish Aviation Purchasing and Management Exhibition.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone added his own remarks in the Irish News this morning:

Most people know that business owners in Ireland don’t know borders. In the agri-food sector many of the big businesses are owned by southern based firms. It was crazy to allege that the Irish government isn’t working for the interests of all those businesses.

“The figures obtained through Daíl questions show clearly that Enterprise Ireland have been working hard to bring investment across the island with no regard for the border and the DUP have produced no evidence to suggest otherwise.”

The Irish News also carries a comment from a DUP spokesman:

“It is very clear from the Irish Government Contingency Framework that it was seeking to exploit the EU Referendum result and attract business to locate there instead of within the United Kingdom.

“Publishing figures which don’t include the year in which the referendum took place is unlikely to shed a great deal of light on the Republic of Ireland’s approach.”

Hmmm, nice sleight of hand there DUP. That particular year would be the current year, for which there is unlikely to be any collated figures, erm, since this year‘s not over yet.

As Smith himself notes in the same piece:

First Minister Foster’s comments were designed to drive a wedge between economic and business relations on either side of the border, when what we need to attract investment to the island is a stronger bond between the various agencies and bodies.

This approach will build on the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement and has the potential to reap huge rewards for the entire island.

And how would you expect him to say anything else? There’s only one viable (and peaceful) way forward for constitutional Republicans north and south, and that’s to seek to be an honest broker for economic development, north and south.

“A civil war is not a war, but a sickness”, wrote Antoine de Saint Exupery, “the enemy is within. One almost fights oneself”. Thirty years of bitter conflict has left a credibility gap, too easily and too rapidly filled with cynicism and doubt.

That is precisely why we should be extremely vigilant about the stories we tell ourselves.

The border has always been problematic, but whatever complications Brexit brings, the only choice is to continue developing the conditions where all forms of cross-border life – economic, social and/or political – remain viable (regardless of whether or not unification commands majority support).

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