Face the facts! Fury erupts as EU throws Dublin under the bus – Irexit now ‘on agenda’

David Trimble: Former Northern Ireland first minister dies aged 77

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With Ireland now a net contributor to the bloc, Anthony Coughlan, who is Associate Professor Emeritus at Trinity College Dublin, claimed increasing numbers of people in the Republic – which is led by Taoiseach Micheal Martin – would become sceptical about the benefit of EU membership. Prof Coughlan outlined his concerns in an interview with the pro-Brexit website Facts4EU – and said it was far from inconceivable that his country could follow Britain out of the door.

Referring to the controversial mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland, he explained: “Public opinion in the Republic is likely to move in a more EU-critical direction over the next few years, especially if the Northern Ireland Protocol problem is dealt with sensibly, as it can be.

“With the UK outside the EU, the costs of EU membership for Ireland now significantly exceed the benefits.”

Ireland now did more of its foreign trade with the UK and North America put together than it did with the continental EU, Prof Coughlan pointed out.

He added: “Since 2014 it has been a net contributor to the EU budget, having been a net recipient for most of the time since it joined the EEC together with the UK in 1973.

“While the Republic’s strongly Europhile political class has been hoping up to now that Brexit can be undone, especially by a future UK Labour Government, that hope is now fading.”

Prof Coughlan emphasised: “People in the Republic will have to consider seriously in the time ahead whether it makes sense for Ireland to continue as an EU member.

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“It can presumably never be in Britain’s interest to have the whole of Ireland made part of a federalising continental EU under German hegemony that now openly aspires to establish its own army.

“Irish nationalists who aspire to a future united Ireland, however distant, are gradually having to face up to these facts.”

Prof Coughlan said: “Brexit has placed ‘Irexit’ on the historical agenda.

“Irexit following Brexit can provide the basis for a future coming-together between Nationalists and Unionists in Ireland, while the support of the Bank of England, as well as of the ECB, will in time be needed to facilitate the early stage of the restoration of an independent Irish pound.”

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Speaking on Thursday, Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to the UK, called for further negotiations to find a way to make the Northern Ireland Protocol work, with critics in the Unionist community arguing it has resulted in a border down the Irish Sea, driving a wedge between themselves and the rest of the UK.

Ms Hartley referred to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement of 1998, just days after the death of one of its key architects, Lord Trimble, formerly DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister.

She told Times Radio: “What we’re saying is please have conversations and get this dialogue going again.

“There has to be a way that both sides can come to some agreement, you know, and negotiation and negotiation, everybody always has to give a little.

“But this is an important time. The Good Friday Agreement, it will be 25 years in April. We want what we see up there – the peace, prosperity and security – to continue.

“What we would urge is, please, this is not, we’re not part of this negotiation, but we would urge please sit down, sit down privately, and let’s see if there’s a way to make this work for both sides.”

It was put to her that it sounded as though she wants the negotiations to continue and that the US was not therefore necessarily supporting the EU in its legal action against the UK.

She replied: “I don’t want to comment on the EU, but our key commitment, our key statement here, our key policy, what we’re really proposing privately and publicly, is sit down and let’s figure out how we can make this work for the sake of Northern Ireland, for the sake of the economy, for prosperity, for security – it’s important.

“Indecision is never a positive in terms of economic investment and things like that.”

Ms Hartley also said the White House sees its relationship with the UK as its “key relationship”.

She added: “The relationship between the UK and the US is deep and it’s strong. And it’s not just President to Prime Minister, it’s throughout all of our government.

“There’s no other partner, no other ally, that we work with as closely, whether it be intelligence, security, military, and obviously the importance of economics on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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