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I came of age during the peace process... Tories using Northern Ireland as a pawn is like a kick in the stomach

Michael Kelly


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Aftermath of Omagh bombing

Aftermath of Omagh bombing

Aftermath of Omagh bombing

While we've all been preoccupied with Covid-19, talk about backstops and the border seemed like a distant memory from a long-settled battle. Britain's decision to leave the European Union still loomed large, of course. But negotiations between London and Brussels had long since moved to trade and the actual withdrawal was a done deal.

Boris Johnson and his ultra-Brexiteer colleagues had succeeded in unseating Theresa May and - despite the promises to the contrary - adopted the deal they had accused her of being a "Judas" for agreeing to. The Conservatives were no longer dependent on the votes of the DUP as Arlene Foster and her colleagues found themselves marooned in London, no longer the darlings of the Tory Right pulling all of the strings of those undermining Mrs May.

Politics is a fickle thing and with the parliamentary arithmetic no longer a concern, Johnson was able to deliver that which he once chanted he would "never" do - and a frictionless border between north and south was guaranteed in international law. Or so we thought.