SOMEWHERE or other in the protracted Anglo-Irish negotiations of the past 20 years, which might have been conducted in Albanian for all I understood of them at the time, was a government concession given to the DUP.
It was the guarantee of -- in unionist terms -- Ulster's Britishness. This provided an assurance that the entire island of Ireland would not be a separate travel entity to and from the island of Britain, as had earlier been proposed within the EU. Travellers between the North and Britain would not in future have to show travel documentation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) accepted this concession to the DUP.
Well, that's what happens when policy is dedicated to conciliating terrorists instead of identifying and pursuing long-term national interests. Dublin was so anxious to get the Shinners in government in the North that it took its eyes off the larger game: the future of the island of Ireland, with regard to the greater demographic forces at loose in Europe, and most particularly, in Britain.
The DFA's multiple concession-making also involved removing all trace of the Border between the North and the Republic. Movement within Ireland is open and unchecked to keep the Shinners happy, but to keep the Orangies happy, movement between Britain and the North is also open and unchecked. In other words, the dam walls between demographic changes in Britain and the furthermost reaches of the Republic of Ireland have been removed. The polders of Kerry are ultimately as vulnerable to major population change as the ports of Kent. The only difference is time.
Now, this might not be a problem if Britain were governed by a capable and far-seeing administrative class. It is not. Indeed, there is every sign that the British government, and the civil service which answers to it, is ripe for being sectioned under some Mental Health Act to be taken to some secure place of confinement, and detained there permanently. For any index of governmental performance gives the same reading of certifiable lunacy. Most of these -- the defence policy, for example -- affect us only tangentially, but the British immigration policy today is ipso facto our immigration policy tomorrow. The bulkheads are down, the future of those in the stern is decided by others in the prow.
The nub is this. The immigration figures from Britain are even more terrifying than the already stupefying ones for Ireland. Almost a quarter of all babies born in Britain last year were to foreign-born mothers. But that doesn't even begin to tell half the truth.
Foreigners in Britain are not equally spread. They concentrate in urban areas, where the proportions of foreign to native are often either parity, or in the majority. How does one inculcate a sense of Englishness amongst schoolchildren in entire cities where the majority of their mothers are foreign?
But even that is to presume that all native-born mothers are culturally English (the immigration crisis being more acute in England than in Scotland or Wales). And this is simply not so. Many young English-born mothers have been raised in alien cantonments, in which they might well speak a regional English (or a Caribbean/Asian patois thereof), but they are as much part of England as one of Somerset Maugham's tea-planters was culturally Malay.
Moreover, for the first time in decades, a straightforward increase in fertility, rather than immigration, was a prime mover in the overall growth of population in Britain, by some 408,000 people. But this was not of British people. Nearly 60pc of the increase was due to the fecundity of foreign-born mothers. More births in Britain does not necessarily mean more Britons. Britain doesn't need immigration to have lots of foreigners any more, because now it's growing them at home.
Just about every single statistic in the British birth survey should be ringing action stations in the British media, but instead there is merely the white flag of mute surrender to post-Powellite political correctness, no matter the issue. For example, the population of Britain rose by two million in seven years, to reach 61.4 million.
That is more than one fifth the population of the US, but in just one-fortieth of the land mass. And there's almost nothing to stop any part of that multinational, culturally-inchoate mass moving to Ireland.
IT is an indisputable fact that immigration is good for a society. Ireland is far better off as an immigrant-receiver than as a people-supplier.
But we have a duty both to ourselves and to future generations to create an immigration policy that matches our national requirements. Even the compromise of being in the EU does not, of itself, make us vulnerable to the manifold failings of the only state with which we share a land border, the UK.
With enough political will, we could have created a land border at Newry or, preferably, an insular one at Larne.
Instead, our weak and abject compromises with the two irreconcilable tribal extremes of the North have meant that we have effectively removed almost all barriers between Birr and Birmingham, Ballina and Kandahar. All that is needed now is time.
Geologically, it made the Rockies -- demographically, it can unmake Ireland.