There’s a plausible report by Dara Doyle on the business and current affairs website, Bloomberg, claiming that the Fine Gael-led government is seeking an explicit commitment from the United Kingdom ruling out any hardening of the soft border around the UK-administered Six Counties. The article suggests that the guarantee is Dublin’s price for allowing London’s exit negotiations from the European Union to proceed unhindered.
Irish authorities are keen to use their leverage in the first part of the negotiations to extract maximum concessions on the border issue, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the deliberations are ongoing.
Such wording would effectively commit the U.K. and the EU to the idea of a bespoke deal for Northern Ireland, should the two sides fail to reach the type of a free-trade accord that would eliminate the need for a border.
Such a deal might involve designating the region as some special economic zone or allowing the same regulatory standards to apply on both sides of the border.
Ireland won’t push for the phrase “special status” for Northern Ireland to be included, due to the political sensitivities facing Theresa May’s government in London, the people said. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is propping up the Conservatives…
Persuading the U.K. and the EU to sign up to a commitment to avoid a hard border would also protect the Irish government from political criticism that it’s allowed the island to be effectively re-partitioned.
Given the bullying tactics adopted by the ultra-right DUP in relation to Brexit and the ailing Conservative Party administration in Britain, one wonders which way the Tories will jump if the choice is between preserving power in the UK or preserving peace in Ireland. A century of Irish and British history does not bode well for the latter course of action.