Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Little we can do about general UK disinterest in Northern Ireland's affairs as storm of Brexit and Stormont looms

Editor's Viewpoint

As the tortuous and increasingly fractious negotiations continue over Brexit, it is impressive how the border question here is playing a crucial part, even if many of the opinion-makers and people in the rest of the United Kingdom know so little about Northern Ireland and its people.

Mrs May's latest gritty retort to her humiliation in Salzburg by EU leaders has placed us firmly at the epicentre of events, and the outcome of the Irish border question could be a deal-maker. How ironic that this is so, given the Secretary of State's lack of knowledge about us prior to coming here, and the comments of leading commentator Tim Shipman, which underlines the closeted world of the Westminster politicians and the London-based media.

Shipman, with typical outsider arrogance, dismisses this province as a "strange sectarian place", less worthy of note than even Cork, never mind Washington or Paris.

Though Mrs May has underlined robustly her conviction that we are firmly part of the UK, it is hard to imagine that these views are mirrored by the majority of people on the larger island who know little about Northern Ireland. Put bluntly, they don't even show an inclination to find out more about us, and we in Northern Ireland have little interest in their internal affairs.

For further proof of the general UK disinterest in Northern Ireland, as if any were needed, we only have to look at the scant coverage about our affairs. The huge scandal of the RHI and the controversy over the behaviour of Ian Paisley was given little attention, despite the fact that Mr Paisley was severely censured by Parliament. Currently we are making national headlines over Brexit, but in reality we are seen as a place apart.

That is not good position for us at a time when so much is at stake. However there is little we can do about it right now, especially as we do not have a coherent strategy on Brexit, or a working Stormont. We can only hope for the best, which is the result of being at the centre of the storm with no visible means of rescue.

Belfast Telegraph

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