The issue of the moment is Brexit, and the fact the ball is in London’s court yet again. I do not think it has actually left London’s court for the past year and a half. The issue of the DUP’s effective veto on these negotiations and on the agreement yesterday is a matter of concern. We agree with the Taoiseach’s statement that it is important to remember the nationalist community, and that we will protect their rights and freedoms and protect the peace and equality to which they are entitled. The Taoiseach also reminded the DUP and those in Britain that there is more than one political party in Northern Ireland. The DUP has only 30 members in the assembly. There are 60 other members of the assembly in Northern Ireland, comprising the SDLP, the UUP, the Alliance Party, the Green Party, Sinn Féin and others, who did not support Brexit and were anti-Brexit. A very small party is essentially stopping progress on this issue and wants to turn back the clock.
The issue we are concerned about is the statement yesterday by the Taoiseach, that there is very little difference between there being no regulatory diversions and that the regulations would be aligned. Legal experts would tell us there is quite a huge difference between these two, and that the wording is very important. Of course, the wording has not been released, but this has to be clarified because there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the interpretation of such terminology and phraseology. This is something that needs to be clarified by the Attorney General. We should also get a view from the European Union in advance, so we do not end up in a situation where interpretation by the UK side of there being no regulatory diversions and that regulations would be aligned would not lead to a hard border. If there is a hard border at this stage, the responsibility for it will lie at our door and at the door of the Irish Government, because we are the ones who have the support of the European Union, and we are the ones who need to ensure we keep everybody informed and we put the truth out there. The problem the British seem to have is they do not even get the basics right.In a news interview that took place today, Mr. Bernard Jenkin, an MP in Westminster thought that an Enda Kelly and Bertie Ahern were both Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland. One can say that the British do not understand the problem of Brexit, Ireland and the history of Ireland, but they do not understand the current affairs of Ireland never mind its history. They need a lot of education.
I hope that we will never have to revisit the Brexit negotiations. Yesterday, the Taoiseach talked about semantic differences and how there is very little difference between no regulatory divergence and regulatory alignment. There is, however, a huge legal difference between the two and we need to know which one will be in the text. We also need legal clarification not as much from our Attorney General but from the European side as to their interpretation of that.