Arlene Foster MLA correctly reminded her audience at the Killarney Economic Conference of the existence of the British and Irish Council (the Council of the Isles as original proposed).
It is part of the Good Friday Agreement and, therefore, has a possible utilisation as a forum in relation to the issues arising from Brexit within and between the geographical Britannic islands (an island group so named by geographers long before the present disputatious inhabitants – like elsewhere the grouping Nordic or Scandinavia still used to this day by the inhabitants even though divided).
I posed a similar suggestion about the Council as a forum in the News Letter more than a year ago (‘Status of border is a matter for UK and EU, not Dublin or Stormont,’ August 12, 2016).
These islands are interrelated.
For that reason neither the Republic of Ireland nor the United Kingdom want to see a hard border across Ireland and down through that common pond, the Irish Sea – nor would they be happy to see the EU insisting on such a border. That surely gives a common purpose.
Yet already the media commentators, after hailing Arlene Foster’s address to the conference, are selectively talking up North-South relations and ignoring the equally important East-West.
Are they captive to a group mind? And as such are also part of the Northern Ireland problem?
The same group mind that has them totally uninterested (and the rest of us are expected also to be uninterested) in how Sinn Fein flipped over (was it by decree or by debate?) to a pro-EU stance when earlier Sinn Fein had opposed the EU Lisbon Treaty on the grounds the EU diminished Ireland’s sovereignty.
Let those in the media get back to the issue of Arlene Foster’s suggestion about the established council becoming what it should be a forum for discussion.
W A Miller, Belfast BT13