Belfast Telegraph

Time to salve wounds opened by Brexit row

Editor's Viewpoint

There is no doubt that the negotiations leading up to the agreement on phase one of the Brexit talks created a tension between politicians in Belfast and Dublin, and this is in no one's interest.

So the latest remarks by the Republic's Tanaiste Simon Coveney are welcome. He said on RTE Radio he wanted to meet the DUP before the end of this year, and that "there is repair work to do".

It should be said that Mr Coveney, in his direct remarks on the relationship between Ireland and the UK in general, and the DUP in particular, won few if any friends among the majority here, but now that phase one is safely over, the time is ripe for a more considered approach all-round.

The recent weeks of negotiations created a difficult atmosphere where all the main participants were playing for high stakes. Regrettably, the tone of some remarks from Dublin has been less than helpful.

It is more important than ever that the lines of communications between North and South are kept open, as efforts continue to restore the Assembly.

The first major hurdles in the Brexit negotiations have been overcome, as far as possible, but there is still a long and tortuous road ahead, which will carry many potential hazards for relationships across these islands.

It is important for all sides to realise that everyone has a great deal to lose if the Brexit initiative unravels, and people must be aware that they should choose their words carefully and do all they can to conduct the further negotiations as good neighbours.

The DUP must also react carefully to Mr Coveney's suggestion that he might meet it before the end of this year, which is only a couple of weeks away.

There still may be a rawness among the DUP at the tone of recent remarks, but nobody will benefit from keeping this quarrel alive, and more direct comments might make the situation worse.

The Brexit negotiations have been intricate, and there is every indication that they will continue in this vein.

It is thus even more important that cool heads remain as we move into the uncharted waters of the next stage of Brexit. It is in no one's interest to resort to the bad old days of megaphone confrontations over border issues.

There is so much at stake that all eyes must be on a more civilized relationship as we all look to the future.

Belfast Telegraph

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