Leo Varadkar needs to stop the hypocrisy and remember who Ireland’s true friends are

Leo Varadkar needs to stop the hypocrisy and remember who Ireland’s true friends are

Hypocrisy, the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case, is a pernicious trait.

Sinn Fein is a party that used to be anti-EU and whose members campaigned for a No vote in Ireland’s Lisbon Treaty referendum of 2009. Gerry Adams, stepping down after 34 years as Leader of Sinn Fein, claims Republicanism is advancing when clearly it is not. If we look at the combined Nationalist/Republican vote at the 2017 UK General Election, it was 41.1% compared to the combined Sinn Fein-SDLP performance at elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2011 when it was also 41.1%. So, in six years, a total advancement of exactly zero. Adams lost his vicious sectarian war and no matter what he says he can be seen as a failure.

We can expect hypocrisy from the de facto leader of the IRA, but to come from the leader of the Republic of Ireland is another matter altogether. Yet we now have Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, effectively demanding that Northern Ireland remain subject to the rules and regulations of the Single Market and the Customs Union after the UK has left the European Union.

It is not surprising that the Taoiseach is increasing his demands of the UK Government. He possibly faces an election next year and wants to appeal to those who might be thinking of voting Sinn Fein who have at the top of their wish list a united Ireland, and who see the decision of the UK people to vote to Leave the EU as their opportunity to advance this cause.

The Republicans are being helped by Leo Varadkar, who seems to have very quickly forgotten his liberal views. The hypocrisy of all shades of Nationalism who “fought” the British Empire and now so cringingly want to be part of an enlarged, anti-democratic EU empire is astounding.

The idea that Northern Ireland should stay in the Customs Union and the internal market while the rest of the UK leaves is a total non-starter and I am glad that David Davis ruled this out so immediately and strongly. What upsets most people in Northern Ireland, even if they voted to Remain, is seeing the EU Commission use the Belfast Agreement as a tool for their demands in the negotiations.

Even more shockingly, the unelected Commissioners use the ‘threat to the peace process’ as another attempt at blackmailing the UK. The threat to the peace process won’t come from those people in the UK (including in Northern Ireland) who voted Leave last June. They haven’t got weapons and material to make bombs; they aren’t the ones trying to divide people.

The EU bureaucrats pontificate piously about the border as if they know what they are talking about. Let me remind them of the terror and ethnic cleansing that was inflicted on Protestant farmers and the brave Catholic and Protestant soldiers, policemen and women who were slaughtered in their hundreds along the border. What do they really know of the Troubles? How dare they lecture us.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the land border. A recurrent theme of practically everyone we see, especially from other non-EU countries which have borders with EU countries, is that – if there is political will to make it work – cross-border trade can be seamless.

Leo Varadkar would be much better remembering that Ireland has more trade with Northern Ireland and Great Britain than any other EU country and that most exports to outside the UK go through English ports. Indeed, his country is totally dependent on UK trade, so he should be careful what he wishes for. He needs to remember that there has been a Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland long before we joined the Common Market. He needs to remember that Irish citizens in the UK have always had special status (they could even vote in the 2016 Referendum) and will continue to enjoy this unique privilege. He should remember too that the UK bailed the Republic out with £7 billion during the credit crisis.

So let’s be blunt: no more hypocrisy, Leo. You need to face reality, recognise who the true friends of the Republic are and stop doing the bidding of the EU in their increasingly desperate attempts to play hard ball with us.