Disastrous Irish Sea border gradually gets scrutiny it needs

News Letter editorial of Saturday July 10 2021:

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 5:38 pm
Updated Saturday, 10th July 2021, 5:44 pm
News Letter editorial

The Northern Ireland Protocol has in many respects had nowhere near the scrutiny and criticism that it deserves.

Reasons for this include fatigue at Brexit, which dragged on for years. The Irish Sea border has also escaped heat because details of it are so complicated that only trade experts fully appreciated its import when Boris Johnson hurriedly agreed it in 2019.

It was hardly surprising that unionists were not as alarmed as they should have been, given that all the main business groups argued first for the backstop and then were happy with the protocol. By far the most significant In-Out trade in NI is with Great Britain, not the Republic of Ireland, yet keeping an open land border seemed the top priority even for commercial representatives.

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For all the people lost in the fog of the disastrous protocol, however, a much larger group of people well understood its thrust. They include Irish republicans, Dublin and Brussels, all of whom could barely conceal their joy.

While much of the public now has seen delays to items that can’t be delivered, even this disguises the border’s long term impact. It is good thus to read in this newspaper Mervyn Gibson and David Campbell, opposite, explain to people the scale of the constitutional damage (something Jim Allister QC was first to outline in October 2019).

Now we turn to other unionist politicians to explain if they will accept ‘mere’ modifications to this betrayal.

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Alistair Bushe