Leo Varadkar has been forced to clarify his claims that he wanted to stop north-south travel, with previous comments coming back to bite him, says Mark Bain
No matter which big story you read about these days it seems you can't get away from the border between Ireland north and south being brought into the equation.
It's always been there in the background, of course, a flexible friend for politicians, a convenient tool to throw into the mix on whatever the hot topic is.
Brexit brought the issue sharply back into focus. The next call for a border poll is always lurking around the corner.
As it stands the border is fixed. Opinions of its status, though, are blowing in the wind.
Three years ago, speaking as Brexit loomed, then Taioseach Leo Varadkar was forthright in saying to nationalists in the north: "Your birth right as Irish citizens, and therefore as EU citizens, will be protected. There will be no hard border on our island. You will never again be left behind by an Irish Government."
Earlier this week, those same people looked in danger of being left behind as comments attributed to the now tanaiste, albeit made in private, surfaced about closing the border to travel over the Christmas period.
First Minister Arlene Foster was left "astounded".
"It appears that the border has made a reappearance again, after Northern Ireland being lectured for four years that the border was completely open," she said.
Mr Varadkar has since clarified, saying there would be "no question of there being an outright travel ban between north and south".
He warned instead that "inter-county travel will still be restricted and will only be allowed for work, school or essential purposes like caring for an elderly relative". All comments made against the backdrop of higher Covid infection rates in Northern Ireland.
How times and comments change, but the border issue is poked once more with a big stick.
And this is just the warm up. There will be plenty of dancing around the border in the New Year as another Brexit deadline is crossed. Then we might find out just how flexible the border opinions are.