Brexit – a time for clarity


Sir, – With a clear objective, the Government managed to garner full support from our European partners around the “Border issue”. But it seems our own resolve is waning. We’ve moved from “no divergence” to “continued regulatory alignment” and now to “sufficiently aligned”. What’s next? “Somewhat aligned”, to be followed by “something like aligned” and then just “something, but definitely not including alignment”?

Let’s not see any further erosion of the Government’s position. The more we try to appease the DUP and hard Brexiteers by weakening and fudging our stance, the more we risk confusing our European partners and losing their necessary support.

There should be no progress to the second phase of negotiations until there has been full alignment on the “Border issue”. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 15.

A chara, – Stephen Collins considers that diplomatic inexperience on the part of Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney is partly to blame for the “shambles” into which Brexit talks descended on Monday (Opinion & Analysis, , December 7th). That seems unduly harsh.

The Irish Government was happy; the British government was happy; EU representatives were happy. There was every reason to suppose the people of Northern Ireland were happy. Enter the DUP suddenly from stage left not just unhappy, but deeply unhappy.

What Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney needed to see the collapse of this deal coming was a combination of clairvoyance and telepathy. As it is clear that none of the other parties to these negotiations possess these abilities either, it seems unfair to single out our Taoiseach and Tánaiste for particular criticism. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – Winston Churchill may indeed be unsurprised to discover that the Irish question would again dominate British politics (Robert Lyons, December 7th). But what would surely surprise him is that a Tory government, bent on implementing the unionist agenda, remains in power due to the abstention of Irish nationalists. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

A chara, – The political border around the six northeastern counties was designed and established by the British in conjunction with unionists in the years leading up to the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921. It was enforced on Ireland at the time under threat of immediate and terrible war. That artificial border divided natural communities and destroyed economic development, especially in the border counties. It also had the political effect of institutionalising sectarian attitudes. It has been a source of grievance for northern nationalists and it has been the cause of great insecurity for unionists. It encouraged a Catholic sectarian state in the south.

It was hoped that the Belfast Agreement in 1998 would encourage unionists and nationalists to work together as equals and to cooperate with the people and government in the Irish republic for the benefit of all the people living on the island of Ireland. However, due to the intransigence of the DUP, this hope has not materialised. The DUP backed Brexit in order to ensure a strong border with the south and to show their allegiance to the right wing in the Tory party. They do not want any close co-operation with the rest of Ireland. Even though many in the unionist community would like to continue to trade with and travel freely in the south. These are not represented by the Democratic Unionist Party.

The DUP led by Arlene Foster and Mr Dodds has shown that they have nothing positive to offer the people who live on the island of Ireland – except more hardship and division. It is worth reminding them that they do not speak for a majority in the six counties. – Yours, etc,



Co Fermanagh.

Sir, – Johnny Hallyday died after a career spanning 60 years and a thousand recorded songs. He once held a concert in Paris that was attended by almost a million people. Yet most Irish people have never heard of him, and even those who know of him could not name a single hit song that he sang.

In this time of Brexit, the life and death of Johnny Hallyday remind us that although Ireland is part of the EU, from a cultural perspective, continental Europe might as well be a million miles away. Britain is our strongest influence. We must ensure that our cultural commonality with Britain and the mutual cultural influence we exert on each other must never be diminished by Brexit. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

A chara, – Speaking in the Dáil, Leo Varadkar was right to remind people that “we should listen to all parties in Northern Ireland and not accept this idea, that seems to be getting prevalence in some parts of London, and maybe other places as well, that there is only one party in Northern Ireland speaking for everyone” (“Varadkar says May acting in good faith on Brexit Border deal”, News, December 6th).

Whatever about the British media, reading sections of our own media here during the past week, one could easily get the impression that Arlene Foster was the prime minister of Northern Ireland and her party the government there. It’s as if the more than 40 per cent plus nationalist population in the north did not exist, let alone matter, and also as if the 56 per cent who voted to remain in the EU didn’t exist either. I say well done to the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste for standing firm on the principles of the Belfast Agreement. There is a bigger picture involved here, for Northern Ireland and for the Republic, than just the party-political needs of the DUP. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow.