Brexit, the Border and the backstop


Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter paints a masterful landscape of the “breathtaking ignorance” of Brexiteers on Irish Border issues (Opinion, December 15th).

Winston Churchill wrestled with “getting sucked into the Irish bog” while negotiating the Anglo-Irish treaty and asked: “How is it that the English political parties are shaken to their foundations and even shattered in almost every generation by contact with Irish affairs? Whence does this mysterious power of Ireland come? How is it she has forced generation after generation to stop the whole traffic of the British Empire to debate her domestic affairs?” (December 21st, 1921).

Churchill supplied the answer to his question: “Ireland is not a daughter state. She is a parent nation. The Irish are an ancient race.”

As the Brexiteers hold their breath and “Westminster continues to deny and elide”, perhaps the honourable MPs should listen to the late great Tommy Makem’s signature song, Four Green Fields to fill in the gaps of their historic ignorance on the UK border in Ireland. Might the Brexit debate be re-framed: if the UK would not only leave the EU but also depart from Ireland, the ancient problem of the border in Ireland would finally be resolved? – Yours, etc,



Maine, US.

Sir, – So the technology wasn’t available to take down a drone (Home News, December 21st). Are these the same people who insist they have nailed a technological solution for the Irish Border? – Yours, etc,



Co Offaly.

Sir, – Perhaps before this century is out, we’ll see London take its rightful place as the second city in Great Hibernia. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – The ongoing difficulties about the Irish Border backstop require an approach to be taken that will give the UK more time to resolve its Brexit dilemmas.

To date, all of the talk about the Irish Border is predicated on knowing where it is.

However, given that its historic markers are volatile – streams and rivers change course, ditches get filled in, and buildings are erected over it – we need to establish a commission to Find the Irish Border.

Our past experience of such bodies means that Project FIB will inevitably last years, giving the UK all the time it needs to sort itself out. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – In the light of the eviction in Strokestown and the bank robbery in Ballybay – a hard border might not be without its benefits! – Yours, etc,


Co Cork.