Brexit and the Border question

Sir, – Jeffrey Donaldson opened his Brexit article (Opinion, August 5th) with two egregious untruths, and went downhill from there.

He states the DUP “on principle” supported the Brexit vote, although his party leader said in February 2016, “We will on balance recommend a vote to leave the EU” because of the perceived inadequacies of David Cameron’s deal with the EU.

Citing DUP “principle” in opposing EEC entry in 1973, he neglects to note these “principles” included opposition to “Ecumenism, Rome, dictatorship” and the “Antichrist”.

Perhaps in clutching his “principle” comfort-blanket, Sir Jeffrey can ignore the inconvenient statistical truth that the UK’s Brexit majority was primarily secured on the votes of the less educated and the superannuated.


Sir Jeffrey has correctly, if cynically, concluded that his dog-whistling across the Border at Leo Varadkar will appeal to a cohort of his support base. It will do nothing however, to help the thousands of businesses, and their tens of thousands of employees, on both sides of the border, whose livelihoods are affected by the outcome of a Brexit negotiation he and his party have not meaningfully advanced.

ISME member companies, and those of our FSB colleagues in Northern Ireland, remain in the dark about the DUP’s policies on basic, fundamental issues such as participation in the customs union. The lazy recitation of a few trade figures will not paper over this policy black hole. And it is totally unacceptable from a political party which refuses to identify the donor of the £425,000 it spent securing the Brexit vote.

Time for action, not words, from Jeffrey Donaldson. Neither the Taoiseach nor any of the rest of us should have to wait any longer. Jeffrey Donaldson got what he wanted, now he should show us how his party intends to move forward without fundamentally damaging the trade, societal and political links between the two parts of this island. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 2.

Sir, – It is becoming increasingly clear that an appropriate solution to the problem of border arrangements between the Republic and Northern Ireland might be a coming together of the two as one nation – out of the EU, and in the Commonwealth. – Yours, etc,



Gloucestershire, England.

Sir, – Jeffrey Donaldson MP states that one of the objectives of the DUP party manifesto drawn up before the last British general election was for a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic once Brexit happens (Opinion, August 5th).

But in the next paragraph he goes on to concede that “delivering a relatively frictionless border will not be easy”. This is followed by him saying that the DUP party has stated many times that it wants a soft border.

If these are the stated objectives of the DUP party drawn up for the good of Northern Ireland then why was Jeffrey Donaldson and his party in favour of voting for Brexit at all?

The status quo would have made sure that both a frictionless and a soft border like the one that we have right now on our island would have stayed. But if any kind of border post or any kind of economic disruption happens along Northern Ireland’s Border counties due to a hard Brexit then there should be negative consequences for the DUP party.

The party will be liable to lose quite a few votes in future elections from both disappointed farmers and hard-pressed people working in troubled local industries there.

It is appropriate that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has succeeded so far in not being drawn into co-operating with both the DUP and the British government in bringing about a new harder type of border on this island. – Yours, etc,


Kilrush, Co Clare.

A chara, – Jeffrey Donaldson takes issue with the Taoiseach for his recent critical comments on Brexit and the Brexiteers (“The Taoiseach will just have to wait for the Brexit plan”, Opinion, August 5th).

“He may think this is clever politics and it may earn him a slap on the back from some”, the DUP MP writes, “but it is seen in London and Belfast as deeply unhelpful”. Sir Jeffrey here takes it on himself to speak for Belfast, when he knows perfectly well that the majority of Belfast, together with the majority of Northern Ireland, voted against Brexit in the first place.

Rather than a slap on the wrist from Jeffrey Donaldson therefore, it is a slap on the back that the Taoiseach should be getting for articulating the concerns not just of the majority of people on the island of Ireland, but also the majority of voters within Northern Ireland itself. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – There is an interesting resonance between Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Mexico that it has a responsibility to pay for his “wall” (World News, August 9th) and the reaction of the DUP to the Taoiseach’s comment about who should be responsible for designing a “frictionless border”. I think Mr Varadkar got it about right, – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – I enjoyed Jeffrey Donaldson’s list of the six key points of that party’s election manifesto, which he says included free trade across the whole EU and UK but free movement only “between the UK and Irish Republic”. He forgot to mention the seventh point: Santa to come everyday and twice on the 12th. – Yours, etc,


Bearna, Co Galway.