Monday 16 September 2019

Ireland needs to stand with allies against Brexiteers

Editorial Comment

SOME of the pro Brexit side involved in the massively complicated process of extricating the UK from the EU would do well to pick up a dictionary and look up the definition of the word Republic.

Soundings made by Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster and UKIP Welsh Assembly Member David Rowlands suggest that some on the pro Brexit side do not fully comprehend that the Republic of Ireland is a sovereign state and full EU member - not a rump of the UK.

Just last week, First Minister Foster said that the UK Government is developing a proposal that would see the UK border being extended to include the Republic. This "extension" of the border would, according to Ms Foster, help our two islands protect ourselves from terrorism and create a common travel area.

In a magnanimous gesture, she acknowledged that the extension of the border would, "of course", have to be accepted by other member states in Europe but the mere notion that the UK would seek to extend its borders - in any capacity - to take in the Republic is grossly offensive, particularly in a year when we celebrate the 1916 Rising and the birth of our nation.

One wonders how Ms Foster, a successor to Ian Paisley as leader of the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party, would respond if Enda Kenny were to announce the Republic was hoping to extend its borders to incorporate the six counties, albeit in European related matters.

We must remember that it's just five months since Ms Foster left Enda Kenny red faced by flatly refusing to take part in an all-island forum to discuss the impacts of Brexit.

The pro Brexit DUP - whose stance runs contrary to the majority view in the North - appears to think that it is the UK that is in the strongest position when it comes to the Brexit negotiations and that the Republic of Ireland is the weaker party at the negotiating table. This is simply not true and they need to be disavowed of this notion. The North is not the Republic's gateway to the UK, rather the Republic is the UK's gateway to Europe and the European market.

UKIP too seem to be possessed of the notion that the Republic will accede to their post Brexit needs and wishes.

A few days ago, UKIP Welsh Assembly Member David Rowlands made the utterly preposterous suggestion that the Irish Government should apply for EU funds to pay for upgrades to the M4 motorway between London and South Wales.

UKIP have dug the UK into a financial hole and now they want the Republic of Ireland and the EU's taxpayers - whom they went out of their way to insult during the Brexit campaign - to help them out of that hole. Quite frankly, UKIP and their supporters need to cop themselves on and accept the new realities of the post Brexit Europe that, for better or ill, they have created.

According to one accidentally leaked briefing note, when it comes to Brexit, the UK Government want to "have their cake and eat it".

The Brexit negotiations on the island of Ireland will be tough but our Government needs to send a strong signal to Stormont and to Westminster that we stand firmly alongside our allies in Europe and that we will not kowtow to British demands.

Instead of having their cake and eating it, the Brexiteers must be shown to the bed they have made themselves and be made lie in it.

Wexford People

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