DUBLIN (Reuters) – As Britain’s exit from the European Union grows closer with no agreement reached on the Irish border, many in Ireland fear that pro-Brexit British politicians have forgotten the bombs and bullets of three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland and fail to grasp how high the stakes are for the entire island.
London, Dublin and Brussels want to avoid the return of a “hard” border the British-run province and Ireland that existed before a 1998 peace accord brought a tenuous end to “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland – sectarian violence that cost some 3,600 lives, many of them civilians.
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The 500 km (350 mile) frontier was marked by British army checkpoints, frequently targeted by IRA gunmen. Belfast and other cities were scarred by riots, shootings and bomb attacks.
British lawmakers who demand an open border but no customs union with the EU sent Prime Minister Theresa May back to Brussels this week to renegotiate the so-called backstop provision in her Brexit agreement – a scenario Brussels rejects as incompatible.
Ministers - MPs - Risks
Irish ministers, exasperated that MPs appear blind to the risks, are spelling out how serious they perceive them to be.
“It is vitally important that politicians in Westminster understand the overwhelming wish across society in Northern Ireland not to return to the borders and division of times past,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said in a speech.
Anybody - History - Government - Dublin - Things
“Anybody who allows that to happen will be judged harshly by history and rightly so. This government in Dublin is not going to allow it. There are some things that are more important than economic consequences.”
The Ireland question was barely mentioned in the jingoistic campaign mounted by leaders of the drive to pull Britain out of the EU. Since then, comments by some pro-Brexit MPs have not gone unnoticed on the island.
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