Belfast Telegraph

Journalist Peter Oborne fears he made 'terrible mistake' voting Brexit as he visits Irish border

Journalist Peter Oborne. Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week
Journalist Peter Oborne. Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week

Veteran journalist Peter Oborne has said he fears he made a "terrible mistake" when he voted in favour of Brexit.

In a short documentary Mr Oborne, who covered the Irish peace process for many years, visited the border in south Armagh and spoke with a number of people, including Kingsmill Massacre survivor Alan Black.

He also spoke with former UUP MLA Danny Kennedy, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond, former GAA footballer Jarlath Burns and other local people.

"As a reporter I covered the Irish peace process and then I voted Brexit just three years ago," the Daily Mail columnist said.

"Recently I've been coming to suspect that I made a terrible mistake."

Mr Oborne said the first person he met in Armagh was Alan Black, who he came across "completely by chance".

"I was the sole survivor of the Kingsmill, where ten of my friends were shot dead beside me so to go back to them days is unthinkable," Mr Black told him.

"We were just coming back from work and the IRA stopped us, lined us up against the minibus and shot us.

"I was the only one who survived it."

Mr Black shared his Brexit fears with the journalist.

Alan Black, the sole survivor of the 1976 attack (PA)
Alan Black, the sole survivor of the 1976 attack (PA)

"From the late 1990s, it's not perfect, by any means, the peace, but it is a peace," he said.

"My grandkids can grow up without worrying about bomb or bullet, to go back to them days is unthinkable.

"This is what Brexit is going to do to us if they put a hard border up. You're going to get the hard men coming out of the woodwork and they're going to start attacking border posts, which means sending police to protect them and army to protect the police.

"It's unthinkable, it's going to be a disaster."

Mr Oborne admitted to Mr Burns, now Principal of St Paul's High School in Bessbrook, that he didn't understand the importance of part of the UK sharing a land border with the EU after Brexit.

"I'm ashamed to say that I was part of that, I didn't understand it and it's unforgivable given the very ancient history we have of tragic conflict and the miracle almost which has occurred in the last quarter century so I feel quite ashamed to come to this so late," he said.

He also accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of being "misleading and reckless with people's lives" by comparing the Irish border situation to crossing between two different London boroughs.

Mr Oborne also criticised the Prime Minister for never visiting the Irish border when serving as Foreign Secretary.

"I worked with Mr Johnson for many years. I know him extremely well. He's one of the most brilliant political brains that I've ever encountered, doesn't he care about the Good Friday Agreement?," Mr Oborne asked.

"Is he unaware of the hundreds of years of tragic history which links Britain and Ireland?

"Doesn't he give a damn, it's time he woke up."

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