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IRISH Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney insist they will obstruct the next phase of London-Brussels negotiations without a British government assurance.
Varadkar told Theresa May: “Before we move into phase two talks on trade, we want to take off the table any suggestion that there would be a physical border, a hard border, new barriers to trade on the island of Ireland.”
His stance is shared by Sinn Fein, whose leading MEP Martina Anderson held recent meetings with EU negotiator Michel Barnier and European Parliament co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt.
She told them that the Leave agenda pursued by the May government is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement, especially in view of the Tories’ dodgy deal with the DUP.
But where is the evidence that the British government or any significant player in either Britain or Ireland wants to change current Irish border arrangements?
What the Fine Gael-led Dublin government and Sinn Fein omit to mention is that the demand for a hard EU border comes from the EU Commission itself.
Brussels wants to site that border not on the already existing demarcation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but between Northern Ireland and Britain.
It insists on a special arrangement for the six counties to place it inside the EU single market and customs union, effectively extending the EU in defiance of the UK leave vote.
Britain’s refusal to accept this formula is portrayed as a dangerous provocation that could scupper the Good Friday Agreement and reignite sectarian hostilities.
It is understandable that Sinn Fein, a party with Irish reunification at its heart, should adopt an EU ploy to effectively detach the six counties from the UK, but Fine Gael has a diametrically opposed historical record.
This EU negotiating ploy gives added strength to the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) view that “Irish interests are being used as a pawn in the ‘talks, no talks’ saga.”
While equally committed to the goal of a united Ireland, as is the Morning Star, the CPI monthly journal Socialist Voice reminds readers that the core tenets of socialism and republicanism are independence, sovereignty and democracy.
It points out that Ireland “cannot be a sovereign country under any imperialist apparatus,” whether dominated by Britain, the EU or the US.
“In the context of Brexit, to campaign for a united Ireland under the pretext of the six counties rejoining the EU shows the lack of ideological opposition to imperialism.”
The clear thinking of Irish communists, shared by their comrades in Britain, is in stark contrast to that of others on the left in both countries who see in the EU, through rose-tinted spectacles, an international co-operative body based on solidarity and respect for workers’ rights rather than a bloc devoted to the interests of transnational capital.
There is no truth in the EU assertion that having different tax systems in the two parts of Ireland makes a hard border inevitable.
The republic and the six counties already have different levels of corporation tax and VAT, but this has not prevented smooth cross-border trade.
Those flagging up future difficulties, which, given goodwill, are quite easily surmountable, do so to bolster different political ambitions.
UK voters have made their choice and will not favour efforts to thwart it just as the people of Ireland on either side of the currently hassle-free dividing line will not welcome duplicitous attempts to reintroduce a hard border.
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