Sunday 22 September 2019

Editorial: 'All sides need to be on board to lift Brexit curse'

A Sinn Féin billboard in west Belfast calling for a special status for Northern Ireland with respect to Brexit and no hard borders in Ireland. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A Sinn Féin billboard in west Belfast calling for a special status for Northern Ireland with respect to Brexit and no hard borders in Ireland. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Editorial

Editorial

Not too many international agreements are forged out of respectful negotiation and compromise.

Only when the competition for total dominance eases can there be room for accommodation.

Just such a point may have been reached on Brexit. Such has been the inertia, suggestions that even a possible draft agreement has been agreed between Brussels and London for a backstop - or insurance policy - to avoid a hard Border will come as a relief.

We need to see evidence of genuine intent, however, before affirming we have arrived at a moment of truth.

To date, Theresa May has exemplified the Churchillian definition of success cheerily going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. Despite her contortions, she still faces the doubtful task of getting approval from her cabinet and parliament.

Our Government also sounded a note of caution, and yet we are told a text - "as stable as it can be" - has been produced.

A temporary UK-wide customs arrangement, with specific measures for the North, has been offered.

The measures will necessarily go deeper on the issues of customs and alignment in the North - on the rules of the single market - than for the rest of the UK.

An agreed review mechanism was also included. The concession of a "review" marks a backward, but arguably unavoidable, step by the Irish Government to shore up a deal. With the security of the State on the line it may seem odd to step away from the tried and tested, and into the unknown.This demands trust, and an element of risk.

The problem is, within the Brexit narrative, we are damned if we do, damned if we don't.

A messy 'no-deal' scenario would be catastrophic. Maintaining close ties with the UK and the EU is vital to our country. Preserving peace in the North is also imperative.

Today may mark a defining moment for the future of these islands.

Sinn Féin and the DUP, whom have already earned their place in the record books for doing nothing by delaying formation of a government in the North, have a choice.

They can now be part of a solution for the future, or continue being an obstruction to be left behind. Yesterday, Mary Lou McDonald advised one should look elsewhere if one expected "Sinn Féin to ride to the rescue". No surprise there.

Progressive politics has to be about moving on. If the curse of Brexit is to be lifted, it requires change and accommodation. A legacy of copping out or closing down is no legacy at all. An agenda of rejection is a recipe for chaos, and a road map for the future can never be drawn from scarlet red lines.

Irish Independent

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