Don’t let Brexit spoil our friendship
The Irish Times
In Ireland, the controversy over Brexit has led to some “nasty British bashing,” said Stephen Collins. Of course it is tempting to rub the Brits’ noses in their inexplicable and disastrous decision to withdraw from the European Union by next March. But it is hypocritical of us to be so unsympathetic. We have, after all, “been very touchy in this country about the condescending attitude of some British politicians.” Yet now that the British are having a “political nervous breakdown,” we sneer at them. This is not just unfair but also dangerous. It is strongly in our interests to avoid a hard border between Ireland—an EU member—and the U.K. province of Northern Ireland, which would bring back the armed guards and checkpoints so hated during the three-decades-long Troubles. That era saw thousands killed in the North when British troops and pro-British militias clashed with the IRA and other paramilitaries who wanted a united Ireland. We must, therefore, root for Prime Minister Theresa May to succeed in getting her so-called soft Brexit plan passed by Parliament. And we must avoid the kind of name-calling that “helped to sour relations between the people of the two islands and the two communities in the North” all those years ago. “Whatever the ultimate Brexit deal,” our “ties of blood, language, and culture” must be maintained.