Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar still talk as if Ireland has a joint say over Northern Ireland

News Letter editorial on Monday July 4 2022:

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Gradually over the last 20 plus years, a misleading concept of ‘the two governments’ has been allowed to emerge.

The implication is that London and Dublin have equal responsibility for Northern Ireland.

What this concept does it is confuses the fact that the Irish government takes a close interest in NI, and was central to the Belfast Agreement in 1998, with the fact of UK sovereignty, as currently underpinned by the principle of consent.

Thus that joint interest in the welfare of NI is deliberately conflated with joint responsibility.

Allied to this misleading concept of the two governments is the grotesque idea that Dublin can be a relentless partial actor in NI, but London must be a neutral broker.

That idea was given great weight by the previous Labour shadow NI Louise Haigh’s contemptible suggestion that the UK should stay neutral in a border poll (which contradicted previous comments by Keir Starmer, but a suggestion of hers which the Labour leader has done nothing to challenge).

This concept of the two-governments-with-equal-say was on display yesterday, in comments by those relentlessly partisan and pro nationalist ministers, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar.

Mr Coveney was telling us the UK had no justification for unilateral action. What nonsense. As the now accepted unilateral extension of protocol grace periods first showed, unilateral action is essential. As it was to stop a pro terrorist legacy process that has put no scrutiny at all on extensive Irish failures over the decades in the bid to stop Irish terror.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar is telling us that the UK should clarify the tests for calling a border poll. No it should not.

As Owen Polley elaborates opposite, the UK has already made a disastrous concession that the whole UK has no say in whether or not NI stays in the nation. After such idiocy, it should do nothing at all to enlighten the likes of Mr Varadkar as to the detailed thinking on when such a poll might be granted.