Groucho Kenny and Brexit.
On the occasion of the Brexit referendum I sat up through the night following the count. As the results came in from the various constituencies and what had been described as the unthinkable became the inevitable, the commentators began the discussion on the repercussions.
On the island of Ireland the focus was inevitably on its impact on trade and on the movement of people between these two islands. Would there be tariffs? Would there be equivalence in standards? Would the tens of thousands of people who travel across the now invisible border be impeded in their everyday lives? How could the vital multi-billion euro/pound trade be maintained?
A host of issues were discussed but – and bear with me here – there wasn’t a single mention at the time of a possible problem for The Six Counties in the event of a border poll in favour of a united Ireland.
In the months since the referendum we have had meetings. Many meetings. Meetings between Irish political parties and chief European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, between Irish political parties and chief European Parliament Brexit representative Guy Verhofstadt; meetings between Irish civil servants and EU civil servants; meetings between political groups; meetings with the Commission. Meetings in fact with anyone who wants to have a meeting, and every one of those meetings is sold as more successful than the last. “The EU is listening to us!”, that’s the message from our government and from our media, the latter being the unquestioning mouthpiece for the former; “Michel Barnier is our friend. He understands us!”, the all chime.
Given all that positivity then, given how 'successful' we’ve been in pushing ourselves to the front of the debate, why is it that the only issue on which the government is claiming victory is the issue I referred to above, the issue that wasn't an issue in the first place? Apparently we should all now rejoice that in the event of a united Ireland, The Six Counties would automatically become a member of the EU.
Look, I long for a united Ireland but in the event it happens, when was EU membership for the whole island ever going to be a problem? Who ever said it was going to be a problem, and given the precedence already set by the unification of Germany, who would ever be stupid enough to suggest it WOULD be a problem?
With this government I often feel like I'm living in a Marx Brothers film, with Groucho Kenny solving yet another problem that never existed, then claiming credit for it, as is the case here, or as in the reduction of the interest rate we were paying on the loans given to us by the EU when they forced us to bail out our banks, claiming credit for problems solved by others, or as in the case of the conversion of the illegitimate Promissory Note debt to Sovereign debt with the Michael Noonan ‘deal’ in 2013, taking a problem of this generation and transferring it, making it an even bigger problem for future generations, and claiming credit for that.
Always, however, Groucho Kenny is merely covering his own arse, distracting from some very real problems to which he did NOT find a solution.
The two major issues for Ireland arising from Brexit are still trade and the free movement of people. As of yet we have got no guarantees from Michel Barnier on the EU opposing a return to a border. Today he told us there WOULD be a border. Not good. Not acceptable.
But hey let's instead celebrate finding a solution to a problem that didn't exist. Hip hip hooray. Party time.