.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, January 22, 2021

Are the DUP the 'useful idiots' in an Irish reunification process?

Following on from my post yesterday, there is an interesting article in the Financial Times from a few days ago in which Robert Shrimsley speculates on what Brexit means for then future of Ireland.

As he says, this year marks Northern Ireland’s centenary, but, given the effects of Brexit, few are betting on there being a 125th birthday:

The Brexit terms keep Northern Ireland inside the EU customs union and single market for goods, weakening its legal and commercial ties to the UK. The first weeks of Brexit have amplified this. British retailers halted some supplies while they grappled with the new trade rules. Customs checks stymied hauliers with multiple loads, and there are fears over the looming expiry of a grace period on health certification for food products.

While ruling out an early push for reunification, the Irish Republic is playing a long game. The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, has created a Shared Island initiative, with €500m for cross-border projects. Dublin also took on the cost of keeping Northern Irish students in the EU’s Erasmus university exchange scheme, another tie to the youth of the North. The strategy is plain: polls show higher support for unification among younger voters. Meanwhile, gentrification is loosening the unionists’ grip on old strongholds. One observer highlights the coffee shops springing up in the now-marginal seat of east Belfast.

However, as he points out there is no majority in Northern Ireland for reeunification, nor is there likely to be one for some time. In fact there are very string ties in the province towards mainland Britain. So it's just as well the nationalists have the DUP as their secret weapon:

The strategic judgments of the province’s largest party have been among the most consistently witless in recent politics. One Tory MP fumes: “The DUP have done more damage to the Union than the IRA, Sinn Féin and all the nationalist forces combined.”

Consider its record. The DUP backed Brexit but opposed every manifestation of it. There was no deal (including no-deal) that it would support. It shot down Theresa May’s withdrawal plan, which maintained the integrity of the union, allying with Boris Johnson — only to see him sign up to a regulatory border in the Irish Sea. In recent days, it has bellowed betrayal over the new customs burdens, demanding the suspension of the protocol governing these arrangements.

The current leadership of the DUP are retrenching, provoking tensions rather than easing them, alienating the non-aligned and the younger, more moderate Protestants. They are making a united Ireland more, not less likely and will continue to do so unless they amend their strategy and tactics.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?