There is a growing concern that along with all the problems that it seems to be creating, that Brexit will end up threatening the fragile peace in Northern Ireland. Some politicians including the Prime Minister Theresa May have insisted that the Good Friday Agreement should be protected at all costs. However others who see the agreement as an obstacle to a ‘hard Brexit’ have started to criticize the agreement suggesting that it’s no longer fit for purpose.
It’s a dangerous game and perhaps some are forgetting the deaths and violence which were part of ordinary Irish lives for decades. Whether you think Brexit will bring penury or riches – we should be careful that we don’t pay a price more than an economic one for or split with the European Union.
We’ve slowly become use to peace in Northern Ireland but people who live there no that the tensions still bubble not far from the surface. There are still republicans who are ready for any excuse to take up arms again and resume their ‘struggle’. How many lives would be acceptable for the right to negotiate our own trade agreements? Most would suggest none, the Good Friday Agreement must be protected by the Brexit negotiations at all cost.
There are already a sense of foreboding of where the negotiations will lead, you can see some of them reported on RTE the Irish National broadcaster although you’ll need an Irish proxy to watch it from outside Ireland.
The worry is that it’s difficult to see any solution which keeps all sides happy and importantly retain the status quo. The Conservatives are advocating the clean break, which makes border controls almost essential. The return of checkpoints, customs, police and the army patrolling a border will be a huge step back towards the troubles.
It comes ahead of Tá, naiste Simon Coveney’s meeting today with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels. A spokesman for Mr Coveney said: This week will be a significant one in the ongoing Brexit negotiations with the translation into legal text of what was agreed in December, including the support mechanisms or Option C, with regards to the guarantee to avoid a hard border. Our team has worked closely with the Task Force to ensure there’ll be no slippage following the deal agreed in December. Regardless of the efforts of some to distract from that, we’re fully satisfied that Ireland’s concerns will be efficiently addressed.
All this and more will be seen over the coming days. In the mean time, Mr Flanagan’s comments came as the United Kingdom Labor Party said it supports remaining in a traditions union with the EU after Brexit. Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, said it is crunch time, for Mrs May on her approach to the customs union. He said Labour had long championed being in a customs union with the EU and the benefits. He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: Clearly it is the only way realistically to get tariff free access, it is really essential for our manufacturing base and nobody can answer the question how you maintain your commitment to no hard borders in Northern Ireland without a traditions union.
He said Labour had several weeks of discussion unanimously, and agreed to develop its policy, to be announced by Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn today. He said: The traditions arrangements at that moment are hard wired in the accession treaty, so I think everyone now recognises there is going to have to be a brand new treaty, it’ll do the work of the traditions union.
Minister of state for European affairs Helen McEntee welcomed the remarks, but said the government will need to see what specific Brexit measures the Conservative Party put forward. This is something that is coming from the Labor Party, this is obviously not coming from government, it’s not coming from Theresa May, they have consistently said they will not stay in the customs union or the single market, she said.