In the old Irish song ‘The Jackets Green’ mourning the defeat of Ireland and the Williamite victory in 1690 there are two very memorable and predictive lines:
“Yet grief will come to our heartless foes
“Their thrones in the dust be seen…”
That moment may be arriving with the decision of the English democracy to vote for Brexit.
There is little doubt that if things work themselves out to a conclusion this decision will be good for Europe, good for Ireland and good for Scotland. The world may also see a considerably chastened England – and that can be no bad thing.
Of course, that all demands resolution in the EU (which it seems to be showing at this point) and in Dublin. There are great economic and political opportunities to be seized by the country if the will is there.
The Sinn Fein decision to campaign for Remain was entirely understandable. Political distinction needed to be put between England and the ‘Northern Ireland’ region of the U.K. This was achieved. We will now see how wise Mrs Foster and the DUP were in engaging in communal politics on this issue to establish a ‘hard border’ or frontier to the South. It has never been Britain’s objective to have a frontier, only a border. A border gives the impression of temporary state, which is absolutely essential in the strategic aim of influencing the government of the greater part of the island.
The very low turnout in West Belfast shows that the Catholic community understood the issue well. There were two outcomes necessary and so the majority abstained. The Fenians have not gone away. They are lying in wait.
Below is the Irish Political Review Group statement on Brexit, published in “The Irish Times”, July 1, 2016, I entirely agree with:
The many commentators who ascribe the outcome of the UK referendum to various forms of disaffection are missing the point. Both sides of the Brexit debate in Britain were resolutely opposed to the idea of European integration.
Whatever about regions like Scotland and Northern Ireland, the position of the UK as a State has been hostile to the primary objectives of the EU since the Thatcher era, and British interventions in the EU since then have frequently been disruptive.
Following Jacque Delors’ presidency of the European Commission in the 1980s the UK pressed successfully for a weakening of the Commission, the supra-national institution at the heart of the EU. In the 1990s UK Governments championed enlargement because it placed a brake on EU ‘deepening’, i.e. closer integration. The UK’s decision not to join the Eurozone, once considered as temporary, has long been accepted as permanent and there are clearly conflicting interests between Sterling, a major currency, and the single European currency. In response to the 2008 crisis an unbridgeable gulf opened up between London and Brussels regarding banking regulation.
In short the differences between the EU and the UK cannot be fixed by the exercise of good will; they are irreconcilable. For that reason the separation of the UK State from the European Union, as decided in the referendum, is in the interests of both.
Brexit will not guarantee that the EU moves back from its attachment to free market ideology but it does open up the possibility of a more united Union and a return to the Christian Democratic ideal of ‘Social Europe’.
Following the UK referendum, Ireland’s national interest clearly requires a consolidation of the Euro currency through further political integration of the Eurozone, pursued as a matter of urgency. Other priorities must be: preventing the British eurosceptics from using their victory to destabilise the EU; and avoiding any moves that would prolong the dislocation and uncertainty that are the unavoidable accompaniments of the British exit.