Guest writer, Nick Sinnott
Irish comedian Patrick Kielty has sent a blistering rebuke to British politician Boris Johnson for his “blundering delusions” over the border in Northern Ireland.
The Irish border has been become a major issue because of Brexit, the UK decision to leave the European Union following a bitter referendum campaign.
Once the UK leaves, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will also be the border between the UK and the EU. This throws up the problem of how to maintain customs control between two different trading regimes without contravening the Good Friday Agreement that removed border checks as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
The Irish Government, the EU and British Prime Minister Teresa May have all ruled out a return to a hard border for fear that it could spark a return to the violence of the Troubles. However, no one has yet come up with a satisfactory method of maintaining customs control without such a border
The problem has been dismissed by flamboyant British politician Boris Johnson as something that has been blown out of all proportion by the Irish and the EU as a way of thwarting Brexit. He said technology could be used so that crossing between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be no different to crossing between Camden and Westminster, two suburbs of London.
Johnson, who is admired by many right-wing voters but dismissed as a buffoon by most of his opponents, resigned recently as Foreign Secretary and there’s speculation that he might now be planning to challenge Theresa May to become Prime Minister.
His comments on the Irish border brought this stinging rebuke on Twitter from Patrick Kielty, a generally mild-mannered comedian who was born and raised in Northern Ireland, and whose father was murdered by Unionist paramilitaries.
Patrick Kielty’s Twitter Rebuke to Boris Johnson
Dear Boris Johnson,
There is no better Brexit when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland. As you still seem bamboozled by all this Paddywackery here’s a few pointers for your next stab in the dark –
1. Northern Ireland is made up of a majority of Unionists (as in the Conservative and Unionist Party) and, believe it or not, a rather large minority of Nationalists (as in Irish Nationalists)
2. These Irish Nationalists don’t see themselves as British but rather inconveniently as Irish (who knew?)
3. For over 30 years we killed each other because of these differences which means Northern Ireland is nothing like Camden or Westminster.
4. The Good Friday Agreement ended that violence by the following devious magic –
Unionists were guaranteed that Northern Ireland would be part of the UK until the majority voted otherwise.
The Irish was border was removed and the island linked so Nationalists could pretend they were already living in a United Ireland (yes, Tony Blair did slight of hand much better than you).
5. Some of these Nationalists then accepted being part of the UK as their day to day lives were essentially Irish.
6. This cunning plan was sold to us on the basis that we were all part of the EU therefore fixation on nationality was so last World War.
7. Implementing the Good Friday Agreement was torturous (think Brexit with actual bombs, not metaphorical suicide vests) but we finally made peace. Yet 20 years later NI remains a divided society.
8. Thanks to your glorious Brexit vision Northern Ireland will become more divided as some form of economic border checks will become part of daily lives.
9. If those checks take place between NI and Ireland, the Nationalists who were once happy being part of the UK will change their mind.
10. If they take place in the Irish Sea some Unionists will be livid. However they’ll still support being part of the UK (the clue is in the Unionist bit)
11. Your Brexit lies have opened a Pandora’s box for Northern Ireland. It’s one reason why the majority of people in NI voted to remain in the EU (almost as if they knew more about the fragile equilibrium of their politics than you)
12. Barely mentioned before Brexit, a border poll is now inevitable thanks to your monumental ignorance.
13. When that poll is eventually held the Nationalists who were once content being part of a Northern Ireland within the UK and EU will vote to leave the UK to feel as Irish and European as they did before Brexit.
14. The poll will be much closer thanks to your Brexit folly and could easily be lost by Unionists, breaking up the UK.
15. Any break up of the Union will be your fault (a tad inconvenient as a member of the Conservative and er, Unionist party)
16. The EU is not responsible for your blundering lack of foresight. Like most people in Northern Ireland they were happy with the status quo.
17. By the time the penny drops that you can’t preserve the Union you want without the one you don’t, it will be too late.
18. You will be remembered not as the Churchillian visionary you delude yourself to be but the ignoramus who triggered the break up of the UK.
19. If there’s any justice all this will come to pass when you’re Prime Minister, so you can finally swim in the constitutional sewage you’ve created (though we all know you’ll be in Nice with your trotters up)
20. Meantime, if you’re so concerned about keeping Northern Ireland totally aligned with the rest of the UK where’s your support for our same sex marriage and women’s right to choose? Your silence is deafening.
Kielty’s series of tweets won widespread support both in Ireland and the UK, attracting thousands of retweets and likes.