Northern Ireland peace comes before Brexit – The Yorkshire Post says
They may have been fierce political enemies in the 1990s, but the legacies of both premiers continue to be defined by the brave steps that they both took to end decades of daily sectarian violence.
And it is why they made a rare joint visit to Derry, just two weeks before the 2016 EU referendum, to warn of the potential consequences for the Good Friday Agreement if the country voted to leave the European Union.
Mocked by leading Brexiteers as they walked across the Peace Bridge in Derry, home to the Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume who died recently, it is, nevertheless, the example set by leaders of that time which Boris Johnson – and others – now need to follow as trade talks with the EU reach a critical stage. Nuance matters as Northern Ireland evolves.
There are clearly no simple solutions to the vexed issue of border arrangements – they would have been identified by now if they existed – and to suggest otherwise risks doing a disservice to Ireland as it seeks compromises between Mr Johnson’s administration and the EU.
But similar impasses did – in fairness – come to characterise the Peace Process and were overcome by a spirit of compromise and co-operation built on trust and good faith, commodities apparently in shortly supply now.
And, while Sir John was speaking in the context of referendum during his historic visit on June 9, 2016, his counsel – namely it would be “an historic mistake to do anything that has any risk of destabilising the complicated and multi-layered constitutional settlement that underpins stability in Northern Ireland” – remains as relevant as ever and now needs to guide all sides.
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