I am astounded at the absence of debate in Northern Ireland on the DUP’s stance on Brexit and the refusal of Sinn Fein to use its mandate in Westminster to prevent an economic and political calamity affecting the whole of Ireland.
The EU’s offer that NI could remain in the single market and customs union, with tariff free access to the Great Britain economy post Brexit, is a wonderful economic opportunity for NI, that it cannot afford to turn down.
The DUP’s position on this is untenable.
NI staying in SM/CU after Brexit does not make NI less British, anymore than the Canary Islands being outside the EU make them less Spanish.
It is more than hypocritical for the DUP to decry customs barriers down the Irish sea and regulatory alignment with the Rrepublic of Ireland (RoI), when only recently the DUP was lobbying Westminster to have a corporation tax border down the Irish sea, so that NI could have the SAME corporation tax regime as the RoI.
Does the DUP have the right or the mandate ‘to force GB to stay in the single market and customs union against its will?
I don’t think it has, and I suspect that forcing East-West regulatory alignment between GB and Ireland may turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for hardline unionism.
Likewise Sinn Fein’s claim that its abstentionist policy prevents it from exploiting a hung parliament to produce a pro-(All) Ireland Brexit outcome in Westminster, is equally hypocritical when until recently its leadership were (whether they like it or not) ‘HM ministers’ in a devolved British administration.
If as they claim they are Irish nationalists, then they have no right to squander a golden opportunity to influence British policy so that it is maximally favourable to the island of Ireland.
Whatever happened to their mantra ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’?
Where is the outrage from business, agriculture and civic society at the squandering of an opportunity to exploit a niche opportunity to advance NI economically?
There has been more debate in NI on the RoI’s referendum on abortion than on the ‘Best of Both Worlds’, solution to the post-Brexit Irish question. Why?
Is it because the establishment on both sides of the divide are both cynically hoping for a hard Brexit that results in a hard border between NI and RoI?
Is it because the unionist leadership believe Brexit will force a halt to the slow integration of the NI and RoI economies, and the Nationalist leadership believe that a hard Brexit will provoke a rejection of partition that might accelerate a United Ireland?
The people of NI need to force them to grab this once in a lifetime opportunity to exploit a unique selling point of being simultaneously in EEA and UK.
Gearoid O’Morain, Castletownshend Co Cork