DUP could go down in history as party that greatly weakened NI’s position in UK

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds speaking to the media after the prime minister's recent visit to Northern Ireland
DUP leader Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds speaking to the media after the prime minister's recent visit to Northern Ireland
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Many are resistant to the emergence of a so-called hard border on the island of Ireland. Many are resistant to any kind of border (hard or otherwise) down the Irish Sea.

What is now proposed in the Johnson plan is some kind of hard border in Ireland and some kind of border in the Irish Sea. So, instead of getting rid of borders (or greatly reducing their significance) we are now offered not one but two.

By far the best approach to maintaining the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is to stay where we are at the moment – a very soft border on the island of Ireland and no border down the Irish Sea.

In a letter from me that the News Letter published on April 25 2018, I called for the Brexit process to be brought to a halt. On November 21, 2018 I made the same call: the best interest of unionism lies in a complete stop to the Brexit process.

By clinging increasingly desperately to the coat-tails of the Johnson/Rees-Mogg Brexiteers, the DUP is at great risk of going down in history as the party that pursued an objective that ended up greatly weakened Northern Ireland’s position as an integral part of the UK.

By scrapping Brexit, even at this late stage, we (British unionists and Irish nationalists alike) can all continue to benefit from occupying the overarching comfort zone provided by a shared membership of the European Union, a membership that indeed includes all who live in the whole of the UK as well as in the Republic of Ireland.

All that said, I do have to add a final note. We hear a great deal about protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. To achieve this, we are endlessly told, requires that there be no hard border on the island of Ireland. But to fully protect the Agreement surely also requires that there be no border within the UK (as would be the case with an Irish Sea border).

The utter imbalance displayed by Brussels and Dublin in their approach to the question of borders and protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is very hard to take.

Frederick W. Boal

Ballyclare