Leading article

Debates on Stormont's future and Irish unity more important than what label goes on a packet of sausages

The Irish News view: As Windsor Framework continues to be implemented, the DUP is still fighting the Brexit battles it started – and lost

The Irish News
'Not for EU' labels are appearing on food in our supermarkets from this weekend. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

WHEN the DUP aligned itself with the English nationalists behind the Brexit fantasy, it ignored and mocked those – including other unionists – who warned it to be careful what it wished for.

It speaks volumes about the poverty of the DUP's political judgment that it allowed itself to believe that the implausible figures involved in the Vote Leave campaign, including the charlatan Boris Johnson, would ever prioritise the interests of Northern Ireland and its people above their own hard Brexit delusion.

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And so it came to pass. From the sloganeering of 'Take Back Control' – including the bizarre £282,000 DUP advert in a London newspaper – to the phantom £350 million a week that was going to be spent on the NHS when the UK left the EU, Brexit was built on lies and myths.

With utter predictability, Johnson went on to strike a trade deal with the EU that left the DUP and its fellow travellers howling about betrayal.

The modified NI Protocol agreement, the Windsor Framework, has inevitably not been to the DUP's satisfaction either, prompting its latest calamity: collapsing power-sharing in an attempt to bend the British government and the EU to its will.

This approach has singularly failed. For evidence, look no further than the introduction this weekend of red and green lanes at Northern Ireland ports and rules which will see 'Not for EU' food labels in our supermarkets.


A system of red and green lanes at Northern Ireland ports comes into force this weekend as part of the implementation of the Windsor Framework


Brexit sage Sammy Wilson MP declares that this major step in the implementation of the framework confirms the existence of an Irish Sea border.

But it also confirms the impotence of the DUP and the failure of its strategy. It is long past the time that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson brought the Stormont boycott to an end. All it has achieved is to corrode faith in democracy and to further harm our public services.

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And while power-sharing has a largely dismal record of delivering good government – the plight of Lough Neagh is but one vivid example of how dysfunction in our politics and civil service has real outcomes – it is arguably still better than the dead hand of semi-detached Tory caprice.

If Brexit revived broad interest in the constitutional question, the DUP's conduct since then has put a citizens' assembly on unity, a border poll and joint authority firmly into the political mainstream. Those debates transcend what label goes on a packet of sausages.



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