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Letter of the day: DUP must widen narrow political agenda as hard border with the Republic would be catastrophic

Brexit frontier

Borders are a contentious issue in Northern Ireland, so it comes as little surprise that the European Union's suggestion of a border down the Irish Sea has raised eyebrows across the unionist community.

The Democratic Unionist Party have been capitalising on this emotive subject to stir anger among unionists and conceal the many practical advantages enclosed in Brussels' proposals.

Having failed to table a credible alternative to remaining in the customs union, the DUP have reverted to a strategy of identity politics, Dublin-blaming tirades and scaremongering with respect to Northern Ireland's constitutional position.

If Northern Ireland leaves the customs union, there will have to be some hardening of the Irish border.

Maintaining an open border would see the island become the smuggling capital of the world, with goods being carried illicitly between north and south in evasion of tariffs and duties, while any regulatory divergence on the UK's part after Brexit could see products in breach of EU standards arriving on the continent via Ireland.

A hard border would carry catastrophic consequences. Many businesses operate on an all-island basis and more than 30,000 people cross the border on their commute to work. Erecting customs posts and policing the 500km boundary, would cause disruption and come at huge cost to the taxpayer.

Our trade with Britain is within the United Kingdom, and will not be subjected to international levies.

The most compelling argument for remaining in the customs union and single market is that the majority of Northern Ireland's electorate endorsed the idea in March. Some 51.2% of voters gave their first-preferences to parties who ran on pro-special status tickets.

It is high time the DUP set aside their narrow political agenda and respected the will of the people here.


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