Tuesday, 24th April 2018
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Perfidious Albion

The recent statement by the UK’s Brexit Minister responsible for their leaving the European Union David Davis really threw a spanner in the political works last week. His remark that the joint text agreed between the UK and the EU concerning a soft Brexit for Ireland was more a statement of intent rather than the legal enforceable international agreement between both parties caused consternation in Europe and Ireland.

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was quick to respond in measured terms to state that as far as he was concerned speaking on behalf of the Irish Government and as a fully paid up member of the 27 countries of the European Union saying that it was a cast iron agreement entered into freely by the UK Government and the Irish government and the European Union that Article 46 of the Agreement made between the parties that: "The commitment and principle . . . are made and must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.” He made it clear that he expected that the British Government would honour its word and it expected that the commitments on the Border to be implemented.

David Davis went onto the television news on Monday and said that his words had been misquoted and did not mean what he had said. His backtracking was indicative of the confused state of the British negotiators and their disjointed approach to the discussions on Phase 1 of the Brexit talks with the European Union. Over the weekend you also had the DUP spokespersons coming out and saying that as far as they were concerned the final outcome of the discussions will not be sanctioned or agreed on until everything is agreed.

There is a feeling in Irish circles that once again the British government is playing a duplicitious game and are using Ireland as a pawn in a dangerous game of brinkmanship to gain a perceived advantage in the Brexit negotiations. With our long history of British betrayal over centuries it is no surprise to students of history of their double dealings with Ireland. However, what is important now is that Ireland has the full support of the European Union which is a powerful body of 500 million people and that the majority of people on the island of Ireland want a soft border and do not want to return to the bad old days of customs posts and military checkpoints.

The Summit due to take place this week should also give more clarity on the issue, but Ireland should not doubt that the DUP will use their voting strength as propping up the UK government to serve their own narrow sectoral interests. The reassuring thing about these discussions is the way in which all the political parties in Ireland are rowing in behind the Irish government’s strong stance on these Brexit negotiations. It is vital for Irish interests that we maintain this cohesion in the face of the divergence between British interests who are not unanimous in their belief for a Brexit deal.

Drive Carefully

The recent spell of cold weather with the addition of snow in most parts of the country including Waterford made the roads somewhat treacherous. It was gratifying to see Waterford City and County Council out and about gritting the roads. But the message must go out to all drivers to take especial care at this time of the year. Also keep an eye out for elderly people living alone who may not be able to make it to the local shops. Slow down, take care and mind yourselves this Christmas season.

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