Northern Ireland news

Academic argues DUP has done more than republicans to advance case for border poll

An academic claims that under Arlene Foster the DUP has done more to advance the case for a border poll than republicans could have hoped for. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

THE DUP has done more than republicans could have ever hoped for to advance the case for a border poll, a leading academic has claimed.

Writing in The Irish News today, the University of Kent's Feargal Cochrane argues that the actions of Arlene Foster's party have "done more over the last four years to promote Irish republican objectives than Sinn Féin".

His piece has been penned to coincide with the publication of the emeritus professor of international conflict analysis's new book Breaking Peace – Brexit and Northern Ireland, published by Manchester University Press.

The Belfast-born academic's book looks at how the UK's withdrawal from the EU has jeopardised Northern Ireland's existence on the eve of the region marking its centenary.

In today's article, he notes how the DUP "squandered the enormous political leverage" it had after the 2017 general election, spurning Theresa May's Brexit deal that would have prevented any border in the Irish Sea.

University of Kent's Professor Feargal Cochrane

"These decisions could have been avoided but have now resulted in the very thing they feared most – having additional barriers with the ‘mainland’," he writes.

"They are now cast as their own jailers, with DUP environment minister Edwin Poots having to erect ‘entry control facilities’, effectively customs infrastructure, between Northern Ireland and ports in Great Britain, as a consequence of Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol."

Professor Cochrane argues that the DUP has "enabled a Brexit that is likely to augment calls for a border poll" and "authored a Brexit that is increasing the likelihood of a second independence referendum in Scotland".

"By their own actions therefore, the DUP have undoubtedly done more to advance the issue of a border poll on Irish reunification and convert it from an academic thought experiment into a realistic prospect than Sinn Féin could have hoped to achieve since 2016," he writes.

The DUP declined to comment on the article.

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