Sharper words from Varadakar but no change in substance. But here’s a new idea.

It’s hardly a surprise that the Dublin government’s latest expressions of concern about Brexit are focused  on Ireland.  But why should the Irish expect  greater clarity and urgency from London on the border when London has been so  vague about everything else?  By itself, lack of clarity needn’t  be taken as a  sign of indifference. Leo Varadkar’s comments may be a mite sharper than Enda Kenny’s, but in substance there is not an iota of difference between them.

Mr Varadkar, who became prime minister in June, said on Friday: “What we’re not going to do is to design a border for the Brexiteers because they’re the ones who want a border. “It’s up to them to say what it is, say how it would work, and first of all convince their own people, their own voters that this is actually a good idea. “As far as this government is concerned there shouldn’t be an economic border. We don’t want one.”

The FT among others, reports the inevitable “clarification” of yesterday’s Times story….

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney restated on Friday that technology alone is not “the approach we can take”. The Times reported that Ireland’s preferred option after Brexit was for customs and immigration checks to be located at airports and ports, away from the land border. Such a plan would effectively draw a new border in the Irish Sea. But Mr Coveney told Irish radio that there was “no proposal that the border would be in the Irish Sea”.

..and continues along the path to a softer Brexit

Charles  Grant, director of the think-tank the Centre for European Reform, said there was a nearly 50 per cent chance that Britain remains in a customs union with the EU indefinitely — in a move that would open up the possibility of a soft Irish border. “If Labour as a bloc [at Westminster] decides that Britain should stay in a customs union, then there is no parliamentary majority for not being in a customs union.”

The authoritative  CEF recently published an overview of the Irish dimensions of Brexit by the almost aptly named Edward Burke

The Irish government will work hard to avoid an acrimonious Brexit. But Irish officials say that if Ireland is forced to take sides in a dispute between Brussels and London, then Ireland’s EU’s membership will always take precedence over bilateral relations with the UK. The EU is a much more important trading partner for Ireland. Dublin values the international trade agreements negotiated by Brussels and points out that Ireland’s membership of the single market attracts overseas investment. Speaking in February 2017, the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: “The foundation of Ireland’s prosperity and the bedrock of our modern society is our membership of the European Union”…

Between 2014 and 2020 Northern Ireland expected to draw more than €3.5 billion from the EU, including approximately €2.5 billion in Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments – larger than any other comparably-sized UK region. More than 8 per cent of Northern Ireland’s GDP is dependent upon EU funded programmes.

After Brexit, EU funds will have to be replaced by funding from London, or a recession in Northern Ireland will be inevitable. The UK government has yet to indicate which EU budget programmes it will replace after 2020 (Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond has guaranteed EU levels of funding for one year after 2019, the year Britain will probably leave the EU).

Theresa May’s failure to secure a majority in the June general election presents the DUP with a rare opportunity of holding meaningful power in Westminster. Some in the DUP, including leader Arlene Foster, are aware of the threat of a hard Brexit to Northern Ireland’s economy. But the DUP is unlikely to use nuanced, persuasive rhetoric to convince the Conservatives to soften Brexit – the DUP is better known for bluntness in stating its undiluted commitment to maximising British sovereignty, and its unwavering patriotism. The DUP will continue to take a back seat in Westminster when it comes to Britain’s Brexit negotiations. 

Even with common EU membership, North-South trade in goods is surprisingly low for two small jurisdictions sharing the same island. Around a quarter of the North’s goods exports go to the South, but less than 2 per cent of the Republic of Ireland’s goods exports go to Northern Ireland. An exit from the EU without a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU would further depress  cross-border trade in goods, as these would be subject to tariffs.

Of all the nations and regions of the UK, Northern Ireland has the most compelling case to establish a separate, privileged relationship with the EU in the post-Brexit era. Northern Ireland has already enjoyed a special status in the EU since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. And EU citizenship will remain an automatic right for many people born in Northern Ireland after Brexit (under the Irish constitution, reaffirmed by the Good Friday Agreement, citizenship extends to anybody born on the island of Ireland as long as one parent is already an Irish citizen).

The EU has at least one near-unilateral option available to it – to maintain funding for special peace programmes in Northern Ireland regardless of future UK contributions to the EU budget. Other proposals will be more difficult to implement, such as allowing Northern Ireland continued access to EU structural and investment funds after Brexit.

Both the EU and the UK should come up with a damage limitation plan for Northern Ireland if they fail to agree quickly on a comprehensive trade agreement. One suggestion would be the creation of a specific regime for Irish and Northern Irish goods and services (including and beyond agri-food), essentially exempting them from tariffs and most customs checks if they remain on the island of Ireland. A swiftly negotiated joint EU-UK customs agreement would also ease bureaucratic pressures and costs. 

On devising such a plan, the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern  has lamented a year of wasted time for bilateral north-south and Irish-British action.

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  • Michael Dowds

    ‘One suggestion would be the creation of a specific regime for Irish and Northern Irish goods and services (including and beyond agri-food), essentially exempting them from tariffs and most customs checks if they remain on the island of Ireland.’

    The UK (and by extension NI) leaving the Single Market means that the UK becomes a ‘Third Country’ from the pov of the EU. That is a country that doesnt share the regulatory AND SUPERVISORY mechanisms of the EU/EEA (ultimatey enforceable as union and/or EEA law through the ECJ and or EFTA Court).

    All products sold in the EU/ EEA must meet the same regulatory requirements. For products made in the Union/ EEA, the supervisory bodies ensure compliance. For products made in Third Counrties and imported to the EU/ EEA, inspections at the point of entry ensure compliance. This is irrespective of whether said third country perfectly replicates the Aquis or not. For some products, the liklihood of a full check is dependant on a risk analysis, for other products (such as those of an animal origin) the check is on EVERY product (to make sure there are no chlorine washed chickes for example).

    Following its adoption of its status as a Third Country, the UK’s risk profile will increase from the pov of the EU (the UK has been less than upstanding even as a member https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/08/uk-faces-2bn-fine-over-chinese-imports-scam-say-eu-anti-fraud-investigators), obviously this would also apply to NI good and services (assuming that no form of inspection was instituted at NI ports).

    Having a system to allow free intra-island movement of goods and services would shift the newly increased risk profile of NI to the entire island thereby increasing time and cost to ALL Irish trade. For the sake of 2% of their trade, why would the RoI be interested in doing this?

  • Brian Kann

    Thanks Brian for a great article. It’s the last paragraph that’s crucial here. We need some sort of special plan/status* (as we always have done really) or serious economic and possibly political strife is inevitable: even then, no one solution is without serious problems. In other circumstances, the UK government would ignore the DUPs contradictory and illogical stance, based as you say, on it seeing Brexit as a tribal banner call for their British identity, rather than what would clearly be in the best interests of NI. Now, the DUP is a powerful partner and May needs their votes: regardless that the DUP dont represent NI and a clear majority of its people don’t want this. So, do the DUP hold that line, and screw NI completely as Tory Patsies? Or recoil back improbably somehow, when people start seeing what they are leading us to?

    It would seem a perfect storm is brewing and sooner or later even the DUP will be caught up in it.

    *in case anyone is concerned, this is not concerned with a ‘step to a United Ireland’. Let’s try and isolate that one for once.

  • Gary Thompson

    It would appear that we are drifting slowly towards a ‘special status’ deal. There are simply too many peculiarities around the border issue to be able to avoid a different Brexit for the North compared to GB. The trick will be to balance it in such a way as to not upset Unionism but ultimately its unlikely that London and Brussels will care too much on that score as they search for workable solutions, a few angry ‘dinosaurs’ in a far flung fringe of Europe will not get in the way of a sensible supranational solution. The DUP votes may not be very valuable by then if Labour can support the final deal in any great numbers, remember the number of Labour brexiteers far outweighs the number of DUP MPs.

  • NewSouthernMan

    Gee, are you suggesting “special status” for NI? As SF and ROI suggests? But isn’t the DUP against special status?

    I guess the economic disaster that is Brexit may be finally sinking in. Since NI is already an economic wasteland, imagine what it will be like 10 years after Brexit!

    ROI growth in 2017: 4.5% (Central Bank)
    UK growth 2017: 1.5% (as per PwC)
    NI growth 2017: 1.2% (Danske Bank)

  • Nevin

    “the think-tank the Centre for European Reform”

    CEF appears to have been a lamentable failure in regard to EU corruption. EU Commission ‘Brexit noise’ is a useful diversion from the decision to bury the 2016 report.

  • Brian Kann

    That last point is very true Gary, and caveats my own point below. Its a realistic scenario that would give everyone a possible way out, not least as a fortunate face saver for the DUP, in giving them distance from it and other people to blame. That said, how this is done will be fiendishly complex, in a way that neither the DUP nor the UK government seem prepared to admit so far. But at it’s most basic, the only, perhaps least worst solution, is for NI to have a very different Brexit deal to Great Britain.

  • Georgie Best

    But why should the Irish expect greater clarity and urgency from London
    on the border when London has been so vague about everything else?

    We should expect this because it is more important. The economic effects are more concentrated in NI than anywhere else. The political effects of overthrowing 20 years of consensus and 35 years of Anglo-Irish cooperation are greater. The Irish government is one ally remaining in the EU, but one with the support of the EU and winding them up is not wise. But above all NI has had a recent violent history and deliberately stirring the pot here is profoundly irresponsible.

    By itself, lack of clarity needn’t be taken as a sign of indifference.

    it absolutely is, in no way should any of this have proceeded until a proper agreed model was achieved on this island.

  • Zeno

    “But at it’s most basic, the only, perhaps least worst solution, is for NI to have a very different Brexit deal to Great Britain.”

    I think the opposite of that is what is required for Ireland. They need a different deal to the rest of the EU because of the special circumstances they find themselves in. Ireland will be the EU Country suffering the biggest economic damage of any EU Country when the UK leaves.

  • Brian Kann

    Both, actually. I think the idea is that the island of Ireland is spared this as much as possible. ROI isn’t leaving the EU, its the degree to which the “EU” effectively leaves NI. That can only mean either the UK as a whole stays in the single market/customs union, or NI does. It would be good if Stormont could return and establish a common position to fight for, publish impact assessments but maybe it’s best if we’re left out of the grown up discussions for now.

  • ulidian

    Given that NI does vastly more trade with GB than RoI, what logic is there in it remaining in the EU’s economic structures?

  • Damien Mullan

    “Ian Paisley said the idea of having the EU border at the shores of the Irish Sea was “utter madness”.

    “And Mr Coveney [is in] real danger of appearing like an Argentinian talking about the Falklands or a Spaniard talking about Gibraltar at election time,” he told the News Letter on Friday morning.”

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/business/paisley-tebbit-and-trimble-all-savage-idea-of-brexit-border-in-the-sea-1-8078800

    Ian Paisley is a man utterly ignorant of his own precarious position or that of his beloved NI.

    Simon Coveney or Leo Varadark can walk every inch of the Republic or Ireland, they can electioneer in any part of ROI, without fear or hindrance. Now ask Mr Paisley in his absolutest best, can be walk in West Belfast, can be walk on the Cityside of Derry, South Armagh, or countless other parts of NI. The answer is resoundingly, No, No he can’t.

    I don’t recall last seeing numbers that show 42% of the electorate in the Falklands endorsing parties that seek incorporation with Argentina, or similarly the case with Gibraltar.

    How smug Mr Paisley appears until one reckons with the divided nature of society in NI.

  • Brian Kann

    The UK post Brexit is unlikely to apply a more restrictive regulatory regime than the EU currently has. The CTA should see the transit of persons as being largely unaffected. Goods going from NI to the UK should not be affected. Goods going from the UK to NI will likely need regulatory inspections somewhere. That can’t realistically be with Irish border checkpoints. I would imagine some sort of special arrangements will be needed to distinguish NI origin goods from UK origins as the latter would need to be controlled at the ROIs/EU ports. NI would effectively have to follow the same EU standards and regulatory regime or the whole thing falls apart.

    Not a perfect or easy solution, unless the UK changes its mind at least about the single market and customs union, but the only vaguely workable one for NI/ROI, as Jonathan Powell suggested yesterday. The alternatives are much much worse, and as is becoming increasingly hard for even Brexiters to deny, Brexit is really an exercise in damage limitation.

  • Salmondnet

    ” Irish officials say that if Ireland is forced to take sides in a dispute between Brussels and London, then Ireland’s EU’s membership will always take precedence over bilateral relations with the UK.”
    An entirely understandable and legitimate position for the Irish government to take. It is charged with looking after the interests of the Irish and must do so as it sees fit.
    What is not quite so reasonable though, is for the Irish Government to demand, as it appears to, that the British Government prioritise Irish interests over what it perceives to be those of the United Kingdom. The British government has primary responsibilities too and they differ fundamentally from those of Mr Varadakar.

  • Damien Mullan

    The great pan-nationalist front re-emerges after a twenty year slumber. This is unionism’s greatest fear and is reason enough to assume why the hysteria and forming at the mouth hostility was so prevalent in the hours after Varadkar’s stellar performance.

    Lets be very frank, the Irish government’s primary role in the northern context, is as advocate for nationalism within Northern Ireland, unionists have the British government to perform this role for them. It is therefore correct and proper for the Irish government to advance propositions, that in the Brexit context, do least harm for nationalists in the north, with his pronouncements on Friday, Varadkar is making good on that solemn duty towards nationalism.

    By his early actions thus far, Leo Varadkar has done the state some service, as well as northern nationalism too.

  • William Kinmont

    At least with special status its possible to put some theoretical flesh on the the bones of the idea. Would need some sort of checks on goods entering Gb if any tariffs exist though most items transiting eu to ire to gb would likely be large ticket or large corporation goods which could be electronically managed.Subdidised eu food entering gb would harm the gb agri industry but neither tory or labour care much both would be happy to let eu subdidise gb food.
    In order to avoid hastle of checks at ni ports our logistics would probaby switch to Dublin and raw material and retail eu sourced and enter here to avoid the delays. Ni logistics firms would be able to adapt
    NI increasingly would be trading in euros with stirling currency

  • pablito

    Zeno is right. There would be no problem in making an immigration border in the Irish Sea. Just make all people travelling between Northern Ireland and Britain, whether by air or sea, show their passports. It doesn’t have to affect the Common Travel Area or the automatic right of Irish citizens to move to Britain or vice versa. The problem is the customs border, which must be on the land border. But it is EU law that would require such a border. The UK has never threatened to apply tariffs or any other restrictions on EU goods. Mr Varadker may think that he has the right to be angry with another country exercising its democratic rights, but he should be angry if the EU’s “one size fits all” approach requires Ireland to erect a customs border with the UK. The Irish government should be lobbying the EU over its need to secure a bilateral arrangement with the UK, independent of the EU Commission’s bureaucratic control freak tendencies.

  • pablito

    Totally true. This is what shoots down Nicola Sturgeon’s argument for an independent Scotland within the EU. Scotland does the vast majority of its trade with rUK, not with the EU. The same is true of Northern Ireland. A hard border on the island of Ireland makes no sense for many reasons, but the economic case for an open Irish border, but a hard border between NI and rUK is even worse. Mr Varadker should be pursuing at the highest level in the EU, for a bilateral British/Irish relationship which can eliminate all these problems.

  • Nicholas Whyte

    Total derail.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Mr Varadker should be pursuing at the highest level in the EU, for a bilateral British/Irish relationship which can eliminate all these problems.’
    He knows there might be a heavy price to pay later on if the EU were to grant Ireland such a concession.

  • Superfluous

    The British side know that only a sea border is practical, the southern Irish side can’t think of a more workable solution. The Unionists who supported this farce have only themselves to blame.

  • Damien Mullan

    As far as I’m aware it’s the UK that is changing the status quo, democratically so, but that nonetheless is irrelevant, as referendums are consultative not binding in the UK, the opposite is the case in ROI, in the UK however parliament is the supreme authority in such matters. Had David Cameron been unsatisfied with his renegotiation he would have been perfectly entitled, constitutionally, to have advocated for a vote in parliament to activate Article 50 without recourse to a referendum, so the referendum is constitutionally meaningless. It’s good PR or passing the ball but nothing else.

    I’ve now seen in the past 24 hours Lord Trimble and Lord Tebbit, suggest that ROI would ultimately be best advised to withdraw from the EU along with the UK. This has been the most telling of recent commentary, and alludes to ulterior motives for this feigning of outrage by unionists. They have no solutions for the border and are in something of a bind, they know a ‘hard border’ would inflict a broadside on the GFA and enrage the nationalist community. The are therefore eager for a get out of jail card that would materialize in the event of the Republic joining the departing line along with the UK. But the politics misalign in the Republic for this to materialize, the Republic, it’s political landscape and its public are massively in favour of continued EU membership as the most recent Ipsos MORI polling indicates.

    The UK’s effort at prizing Ireland away from the EU27 has failed miserably.

  • Oggins

    So the UK leaves and the republic should make all the hard ground?

  • Zeno

    Special status for NI alone is obviously politically sensitive but if Ireland were allowed to deal with the whole UK as they had previously to avoid economic damage to themselves that would be a solution that would work for all sides.

  • Zeno

    Ireland need to look out for themselves. If the EU want to impose restrictions that damage the Irish Economy it is up to Ireland to stop them.

  • Oggins

    I think Ireland are looking out for themselves. What doesn’t help the matter is the British government has no clue what it is doing. They are trying to play poker with a bluff

  • Zeno

    It may look like that to you. I think they are doing well. Negotiation is a skill and involves strategy. What is happening at the minute is a game is being played out. That’s all.

  • Oggins

    I think it’s we don’t have a clue. Let’s use the Irish as leverage as our play…. As you say it’s a skill, one they are lacking

  • Zeno

    You don’t know that. You don’t have enough information on what is going on to make that call. The result of their approach will be known in 2019.

  • Oggins

    If you take that logic I could apply the argument to you?

  • Oggins

    From what is going on, news, commentators etc it is so far a big cluster f###.
    I am sorry you have yet to refute otherwise. Thoughts that it’s up to the EU t play ball or else Ireland will suffer is typically cocky approach from Brexiters. The UK is a small part of Europe. Europe will back the republic. NI is a mere after thought to the GB brexiters

  • Georgie Best

    The British government is responsible for NI and for the peace there and they should not neglect these responsibilities.

  • Georgie Best

    Because that trade with GB takes place in a ship and is easily monitored. You cannot wish geography away.

  • Georgie Best

    You correctly draw attention to the nature of the goods, it is not only the volume that determines the issues but the type of goods.

  • jonlivesey

    If we do drift towards a ‘special status’ deal for the Republic, then the Irish question is going to be with us for another hundred years. Barnier is manipulating Irish-British history for his own advantage in a very clever way.

    A ‘special status’ for the Republic simply means yet one more avenue for the EU to exert control on post-Brexit UK. Any ‘special status’ means rules, agreements and therefore bodies with EU membership to arbitrate disagreements.

    Land borders are nothing new. There are land borders all over Europe, including between EU and non-EU members.

    Land borders involve cooperation, but it is cooperation between peers. They should not mean that the EU can say “We won’t even talk to you until *you* solve our problem.”

  • jonlivesey

    “Goods going from NI to the UK should not be affected. Goods going from
    the UK to NI will likely need regulatory inspections somewhere.”

    Why would the UK want anyone to inspect goods in transit within the UK? I think you mean that goods traveling from NI to the Republic will need inspecting – using whatever technical means are possible.

  • jonlivesey

    “The UK’s effort at prizing Ireland away from the EU27 has failed miserably.”

    Since it existed only in some overheated imaginations, that’s hardly important.

  • jonlivesey

    “So the UK leaves and the republic should make all the hard ground?”

    Is the Republic a sovereign country or not? I don’t think Denmark or the Netherlands are asking us to solve their problems.

  • jonlivesey

    Both the press and the Eu have a clear interest in making out tha the negotiations are failing and that it’s the UK’s fault. Given that, the fact that they are claiming this adds no information.

    As Mandy Rice Davis joked “They would say that, wouldn’t they?”

  • William Kinmont

    On a lighter note perhaps our sausages and chocolate will be distributed from southern sources, so much better. Tayto will remain internally sourced so no risk there either.

  • 05OCT68

    Big split in the British Cabinet, It comes after Mr Hammond claimed there was a ‘broad acceptance’ at Cabinet level for many of the current arrangements with the EU remaining ‘very similar’ for a period lasting three years. So the clusterfu)k to continue until 2022. Reason for split? “We made it clear that control of our own borders was one of the elements we wanted in the referendum, and unregulated free movement would seem to me not to keep faith with that decision.” Liam Fox quoted. Interesting that in nearly every sector of industry non-EU-born workers outnumber EU- born workers & that UK born workers account for nearly 85% of the work force in all sectors. The latest data was collected from NHS Jobs, the main recruitment website for the NHS. Between January 2017 and March 2017, a total of 86,055 vacancies were advertised, up from 78,112 in the first quarter of 2016 the Guardian reported last week. Now will the shortfall of be filled by UK workers post Brexit or non EU born nationals?

  • Damien Mullan

    Lord Trimble, Lord Tibbet, Melanie Phillips, Simon Heffer, Ian Paisley, Jeffrey Donaldson, and those are just off the top of my head, the list is fairly extensive enough.

  • Accountant

    The 2% figure is nonsense. The denominator ignores products that criss-cross the border (dairy, Guinness, etc.) and includes all those services that Irish subs of US corporates “sell” to European citizens and companies, but which create minimal employment and taxes in Ireland.

    Equally important, €25bn of perishable Irish agri products transit through UK.

    If this was a 2% of exports problem, why would Varadkar et al. be getting so exercised ?

    Brexit is a challenge for us all.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Perhaps, the fact is that because this is a Wisdom of Solomon problem there’s no way of pleasing everyone, or indeed possibly anyone.

    What Unionists need to realise (particularly the DUP) is that they have a vested interest in Southern Irish affairs, more than they every could have being members of the EU.

    They effectively have made the border with the Republic harder, while ensuring Britain becomes more insular and focused on its own hide. As usual this makes Northern Ireland even more peripheral, and even less British.

    Better Off Out brings out another daunting prospect.

    With regards to Northern Ireland and Brexit, both Britain and the Republic of Ireland is made better off out without acknowledging it even exists.

  • Georgie Best

    Quite apart from the volume this is important because while new Brexit jobs will arrive in Dublin the impact of regular trade disruption will be in relatively disadvantaged areas like Donegal.

  • Michael Dowds

    I’m not saying it’s not, I’m saying that Special Status for the Republic is a poisoned chalice as it COULD severely hinder RoI trade with the EU26. Is NI and the border region worth it?

  • Michael Dowds

    Yea, but special status for RoI could cause lost jobs across the whole country.

  • Barneyt

    They must give attention to the areas where they are likely to cause most pain. In steering towards an exit they have already concluded that brexit will favour the uk ( presumably the Gb part) so they have little to address in that regard.

  • Barneyt

    You do know that the ROI has not found itself in a position but has historically been thrust into one by the British, in much the same way as Bangladesh, Indian, Pakistan and Afghanistan of old.

    If you take over my house and in time withdraw to the kitchen, I’m going to be concerned if you leave the chip pan unattended. You manage it or you turn the gas off and hightail it out of there.

    I don’t get this notion that presumably through tectonic plate movement the island of NI has drifted and suddenly found itself shored up alongside the ROI.

  • Barneyt

    Within the uk and brexit camp I sense they see the “consultation” as something far more concrete. My guess is a second referendum as there is a case to reconsult

  • Barneyt

    That’s all intra-uk trade that helps swell London coffers. Yes NI and Scotlands producers have a market and it benefits them directly, being able to shift their stuff, but it’s not the same as wider eu trade. One can only talk of ni to gb trade in the context of ni being separate from gb in all ways… but it’s not.

  • Barneyt

    You are right. He surely means ni to gb… which currently is internal to the uk. Many do continue to talk about present trade levels between ni and gb and Scotland and rUK. For me that’s pointless as their is insufficient separation and devolution between the parts of the uk to allow such intra-uk trade talk

  • Reader

    pablito: There would be no problem in making an immigration border in the Irish Sea.
    There’s no *need* for an immigration border in the Irish sea. The CTA controls non-EU movement, and there is no need to control EU movement.

  • Reader

    Damien Mullan: …the list is fairly extensive enough.
    And is this the list of the people who masterminded “the UK’s effort at prizing Ireland away from the EU27…”?
    Surely such a plan should have been ordered by the PM and managed by someone at Cabinet level?

  • Reader

    Damien Mullan: Lets be very frank, the Irish government’s primary role in the northern context, is as advocate for nationalism within Northern Ireland, unionists have the British government to perform this role for them.
    You mentioned “nationalism” and “unionists
    Do you see the distinction?

  • Damien Mullan

    Have you read any articles relating to Ireland in the Brexit context on Conversative Home, the Tory gene pool reservoir of current, former, MP’s, advisers, columnists, etc, they all predictably end with the self serving advise that Ireland ought to make light of its EU membership too.

  • Damien Mullan

    Is the British government not unionist itself, thus already inclined towards unionism, I then drew emphasis to NI ‘unionists’, to focus the dilemma of unionists in NI, as distinct from pan-UK unionism.

    Equally, the Irish government, the political parties that form that government and governments previous, hold a United Ireland aspiration, are thus nationalist, thus advance ‘nationalism’.

  • Reader

    Damien Mullan: they all predictably end with the self serving advise that Ireland ought to make light of its EU membership too.
    But that hardly marks it out as a plan, does it? Though it has a merit shared by few plans – i.e. that it would solve the stated problem.

  • Damien Mullan

    Every plan begins with philosophy.

    “that it would solve the stated problem.”

    Pesky Irish democracy, getting in the way of an easy solution.

  • Reader

    Right now, that which is good for nationalists (peace and prosperity) is not good for nationalism (which needs to see a bit of pain). Hence the opportunistic posturing over Brexit.
    Strangely enough, the interests of unionists and unionism are perfectly aligned with each other.

  • Damien Mullan

    “unionists and unionism”

    I suppose that’s because the’d rather sink into greater dependency and poverty if only to stick it to their nationalist neighbours. We know the gig. It’s the same old hatred.

    Is the border as it is, is it so offensive to unionists. Unionists don’t have to show passports going to GB, nationalists don’t have to when travelling to the south. Was this arrangement so offensive to unionists, the lack of impediments placed in-front of nationalists. That conceitedness can only come from the deepest reservoirs of hatred, there is no other explanation for it.