The SDLP “border” shown on the SDLP’s recent BBC television party political broadcast the other evening, like the focus of the broadcast itself, ignored the issue of the coming Northern Ireland election, and that issue is the issue of “good governance”.
But in that the SDLP focused on the “border”, and further a “border” on the screen that did not turn southwards dividing the Irish Sea it confused matters further.
For if the border is to be brought in it is the border continuing down through the Irish Sea disrupting the free flow of people and goods (the end of the common travel area) that has Dublin worried.
The SDLP, despite its depicted “border”, and Sinn Fein having somersaulted again, are now taking up the cause of retaining a common travel area between and within the Britannic, or British, isles – that is taking on what, before unionism became confused and disrupted, would once have been a unionist cause.
But if the Republic of Ireland has the legal right within the European Union to veto any decision the EU may arrive at with respect to the border, would it not be better to inform the EU now before negotiations begin that not only is the common travel area essential to it, but that it will veto, that is if it can do so, any insistence on a hard border between the Republic and the UK should the EU insist on such? If it did so now, that is if it has that constitutional right, it would clarify matters.
It would not only make clear to the EU that it is at one with the United Kingdom on this matter but it would remove a distraction, that some exploit, thus making it possible here to concentrate on what really matters, and that is good governance and which parties can best facilitate the good governance of Northern Ireland which to date neither Sinn Fein and the DUP have been able to provide.
W A Miller, Belfast