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In Connelly’s Ireland, the country’s a world-beater. If you want export statistics, you’ve got them. You might puzzle at Ireland’s ability to trade all over the earth but not next door after Brexit, but there are deeper mysteries yet. Take the aforementioned Phil Hogan. So blinkered and doctrinaire an instance of Europhilia is he that when his own government suggested during the Brexit talks that the UK and Republic should simply, sensibly, have a bilateral agricultural free trade agreement, Hogan, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, refused to countenance it.

But Europe’s an odd thing. There’s racing. The British Isles is one “single epidemiological unit” for bloodstock (an otherwise impossible derogation from EU rules about animal transit). In other words, you can race at Cheltenham or  Galway and  you needn’t worry your head about the EU’s “sacred legal order” because it’s been dealt with. And the funny thing is, horses, unlike other livestock, have a habit of mostly coming back from the journeys they set off on.

Then there’s the paranoia of Irish officials. Connelly regurgitates their fantasy that “[the British] will try to pull us out of the EU. They’ll make it hard for us to stay in.” There was no evidence for this delusion, nor has there been a solitary instance of hardball since the referendum. It’s hard to think of another country in Britain’s position which wouldn’t mull over its energy-dependent neighbour’s weak spots, but we haven’t. This is the stark divide: official Dublin’s resentful, bogeyman conceit of Britain versus mundane reality. The fracture, inevitably, stems from nationalist poison.

In their diplomacy in Brussels the Irish have adduced invisible annex after unknown codicil to the Belfast Agreement. This culminates in their self-image as defending “what was agreed” and plays to a toxic combination of self-regard and self-pity. Thus, “there can be no border” between north and south, although there is a border, on tax, currency, immigration and so much else, all the way up to being the political, national border the Agreement confirmed that it was. This was the Agreement’s point: that the Republic recognised the legitimacy of the border and stopped giving succour to terrorism by laying claim to the north.

Connelly, in his reporting, unwittingly personifies nationalist solipsism. For while imaginary achievements of the Agreement are touted solely from an Irish nationalist viewpoint, they’re ignored from anyone else’s. So northern nationalists must have “assurances” (about things which weren’t agreed) while unionists must be discounted in things they may well hold equally dearly to (say, international treaties recognising the border they’re quite attached to, and maintenance of the state they’re by agreement in).

If one detail alone sets out Irish myopia in full, it’s that RTE’s Europe Editor writes a book about Brexit which turns on the border and doesn’t mention smuggling. Not once. For to do so would be to show multiple things which can’t be contemplated: that there is a border; that it hasn’t gone away; that problems are habitually fudged; and that solutions are easily coped with.
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AnonymousElisabethIIRex
November 5th, 2018
9:11 AM
Why be concerned about what the Irish think? In a few decades they won't be politically significant, even in Eire: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/irish-could-be-minority-ethnic-group-her...

ElizabethTheFirst
November 5th, 2018
9:11 AM
The UK need not worry about Eire. In another 30-40 years the Irish will be politically insignificant everywhere, including Ireland (replace spaces with dots): www irishtimes com/news/irish-could-be-minority-ethnic-group-here-by-2050-professor-1.424517

Brexitbroad
July 21st, 2018
1:07 PM
After seeing him on Newsnight I certainly know what I would like to do with him.

Anonymous
July 21st, 2018
1:07 PM
Certainly much better value than the other Months they have on Newsnight. More (Christopher) Montgomery and less (Tim) Montgomerie please...

Anonymous
July 21st, 2018
12:07 PM
Montgomery is top Tory totty

Anonymous
July 21st, 2018
12:07 PM
Saw him on Newsnight - a right bit of Brexit crumpet

Anonymous
July 21st, 2018
12:07 PM
More Montgomerie please

Brexit Girl
July 21st, 2018
12:07 PM
I too was googling Christopher Montgomery after seeing him on Newsnight - but for different reasons. What wonderful polite aggression; what a beard. Would certainly tune into Newsnight more often if we got more of him.

Anonymous
July 20th, 2018
10:07 PM
Just seen this pompous arsehole on Newsnight and if he had explained his view on the Irish border during the Vote Leave campaign maybe the UK public would have been better informed and voted otherwise. I never heard the Irish border situation mentioned once, but then why would the Vote Leave camp care as their ‘lot’ have never had a problem railroading over Ireland for their own benefit. The self pitying is not Ireland, but Montgomery himself who from viewing him on Newsnight is an angry misguided individual crying over a prize he fully cannot achieve. Montgomery reminds me of some other petulant arrogant little man i.e. Donald Trump.

Anonymous
June 27th, 2018
2:06 PM
Of course dear! The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the fault of the Irish, who have a long history of meddling in the UKs 'internal affairs', like the Russians. Time for a lie-down, me thinks!

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