DUP Brexit push may weaken UK - and sign party's death warrant
Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30
I've just had a surreal moment in the Centra at Donegal Square, Belfast, right opposite the City Hall. Blaring on the radio was The Police's 'Invisible Sun'. The Polish shop assistant was oblivious, but think about it: this is a song penned in 1981 by Sting about the Hunger Strikers, the conflict in the North and the nihilism of the Troubles. Those dark days are very far from the sunny Belfast I am strolling around today. While it's no Dublin, the transformation is truly extraordinary. In the same way as Northerners, particularly unionists, should travel South more often to see that we don't bite, we Southerners should also head North, to see what has been achieved here. It's only two hours from Dublin and when you think of the carnage of the 1960s, '70s, '80s and 1990s, the results of (an often difficult) peace are worth savouring.
I'm up in Belfast to take part in a panel discussion on the Brexit poll, which is in St Mary's University on the Falls Road. For a variety of reasons, I'm more familiar with the other side of town, so a trip up the Falls should be interesting. Unfortunately, or maybe predictably, it appears that the Brexit debate has more or less split the North on religious lines again. True, the diminutive Ulster Unionist Party is grudgingly pro-Remain, but the main unionist political tribe, the DUP, is deep Brexit and the nationalists are flying the star-spangled EU banner.
It's just the way it is up here. Things break down religiously. Billy says black, Seamie says white. Alison says bacon, Mairead says rashers. There are all sorts of little tells that give you away.