Readers reflect on how Brexit negotiations will affect Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
It is understandable that Fintan O’Toole (Britain has just discovered it’s now weaker than Ireland, 5 December) should make the most of his country’s 15 minutes of fame but he will soon find that, when push comes to shove, the EU will treat Ireland with the same contempt as they did Greece. It wasn’t that long ago that the people of Ireland had to endure severe austerity imposed upon them by the EU following the 2008 financial collapse. So far the Republic and its taoiseach have been allowed to wallow in self-importance because it suited Brussels, but should that become a real threat to moving to the next stage of negotiating trade, something that’s as important to the EU as it is to the UK, the taoiseach will soon be pushed aside and, like Alexis Tsipras, do as he is told in the traditional way that the EU treats its smaller member states.
• The DUP stance that they want a hard Brexit with a soft border has always been contradictory and impossible to achieve. It has to be suspected that they will accept a hard border, despite the damage it will cause in many ways, because they see Brexit as an opportunity to lessen the influence of the Republic on the North. Rejecting special status for Northern Ireland ignores the fact that a special status already exists under the Good Friday agreement. Jacob Rees-Mogg remarks that “we are the Conservative and Unionist Party after all”, disregarding the supposed neutrality of the UK government on the long-term status of Northern Ireland, when this neutrality underpins the peace agreement. This is a very dangerous move by the extreme Brexit supporters. Meanwhile Sinn Féin have abdicated, keeping the Stormont assembly closed and continuing their refusal to take their seats in the UK parliament, despite the crying need for someone to speak up for their constituents at Westminster.Continue reading...