Aoife Moore: Brexit aftermath is like a dark comedy but it's the people who suffer 

The DUP had a terrible day out, losing seven seats, and blaming everything and everyone for the result.
Aoife Moore: Brexit aftermath is like a dark comedy but it's the people who suffer 

'To the surprise of nobody, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson didn’t take up his new seat as an MLA, and has shuffled back to Westminster, co-opting former MP Emma Little-Pengally into it instead.'

If the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results, it can aptly be applied to the handling of the Brexit aftermath.

One of the underlying problems of the whole Brexit process is that everyone talks about Northern Ireland but no one really listens to its people, those who will suffer because of it.

The recent election marked a new dawn in the North — 90 people elected, 32 of which are women, a record 35%, and the youngest Assembly we have ever returned — but nothing has really changed.

Despite the historic nature of the vote, which thrust the Alliance Party into third place, the same argument we were having before we went to the polls is continuing.

The DUP had a terrible day out, losing seven seats, and blaming everything and everyone for the result.

What's become clear in the days since ballots were cast, the people of Northern Ireland will gain very little.

To the surprise of nobody, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson didn’t take up his new seat as an MLA, and has shuffled back to Westminster, co-opting former MP Emma Little-Pengally into it instead.

The party has refused to nominate a speaker and will continue to obstruct Stormont until their concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol are satisfied.

There are, undoubtedly, concerns in the unionist community around the Protocol. Those who consider themselves British are made uncomfortable by the notion of breaking a link with the British mainland. These concerns are shared by the Ulster Unionist Party too. 

The main difference is the UUP is not willing to hold Stormont to ransom over it. 

Their leader Doug Beattie makes the astute point that Northern Ireland needs a seat at the table when dealing with the Protocol, and without a functioning Stormont, the people's voices will go unheard. 

In total, 53 of the 90 people elected last week support the Protocol. It should be a clear message that the electorate is behind the agreement. 

All the people of the North will live under the Protocol — they should be the main actors in this show — but the British government hasn't shown any signs they want to listen to anyone other than those who voted for Jeffrey Donaldson’s Democratic Unionist Party.

The DUP is in freefall, with internal strife, leadership heaves, haemorrhaging votes, they are quickly running out of options. 

Today, Boris Johnson is visiting the North. 

The British Prime Minister, who negotiated the Protocol which the DUP so deeply despises, is now threatening to tear it up.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has argued that ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol could undermine the peace process and send headlines around the world that the UK Government breaks international laws.

He points out the need to address unionist concerns but he stressed that a majority of voters in Northern Ireland backed the Protocol.

The British Prime Minister, who negotiated the Protocol which the DUP so deeply despises, is now threatening to tear it up.
The British Prime Minister, who negotiated the Protocol which the DUP so deeply despises, is now threatening to tear it up.

"Let's not forget, this is not only about unionism," he said. "Of course, it needs to be partly about unionism, but a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted against Brexit and would vote against Brexit again in the morning if it was put to them.

"A majority of people in Northern Ireland are in favour of the Protocol because they see that it does a reasonable job to manage the disruption of Brexit in the Irish circumstances.

"There is a minority, a large minority within unionism, who are unhappy with the protocol," he added. 

With the relationship between the UK and EU in tatters, things aren’t looking hopeful that this issue is going to be sorted any time soon.

Boris Johnson’s government claims they want to alter the Protocol because it is creating “political instability”, notwithstanding that Brexit, which he pushed, has caused the most serious period of political instability in Northern Ireland since the Troubles.

Brexit has been a pantomime since the beginning, and the dark comedy about all of it is that the biggest supporters for Brexit were the DUP themselves.

The DUP was wrong on Brexit, just like they were wrong when they rejected the Good Friday Agreement. The party has been out of step with the public for years.

The fear is they will squander any potential opportunities for the people of Northern Ireland.

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