Has Brexit fractured Irish-unionist relations?

Leo Varadkar Image copyright European Photopress Image caption Unionists have been critical of Leo Varardkar’s approach to Brexit

Last week marked 21 years since the Good Friday peace agreement was signed – the deal that effectively helped bring decades of violence in Northern Ireland to an end.

It was co-forged by the British and Irish governments and led to the establishment of joint Irish-British bodies to help continue building progress.

But the Irish government has previously said Brexit threatens to undo much of that.

Another unintended consequence of Brexit seems to have been the impact on relations between unionists and the Irish government.

Last week, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Emma Little-Pengelly said it was sad that the behaviour of the Irish government in relation to the Brexit negotiations “has so fundamentally fractured the carefully built relationships with unionists”.

Skip Twitter post by @little_pengelly

Sad that the behaviour of the Irish Government has so fundamentally fractured the carefully built relationships with unionists – the destruction of which will be so very hard to heal. I have never known a time where it has been so broken. A sad testimony to the last 21 years https://t.co/nL9eSwRgoX

— E Little-Pengelly MP (@little_pengelly) April 10, 2019


End of Twitter post by @little_pengelly

Skip Twitter post 2 by @little_pengelly

Irish Gov has completely & aggressively dismissed unionist concerns, seeking instead a Irish Sea border. All unionist parties are opposed to backstop. I have many remain voting friends who, as unionists, don’t want sea border. Not just a DUP issue & HAS fractured relationships https://t.co/cBRxbl13Wb

— E Little-Pengelly MP (@little_pengelly) April 11, 2019


End of Twitter post 2 by @little_pengelly

The Irish government is at odds with unionist opinion in Northern Ireland on the backstop contained within the Brexit deal, because of unionist concern that the trade differences it would cause between Northern Ireland and Great Britain could threaten the break-up of the union.

All unionist parties in Northern Ireland are opposed to the backstop, but the Irish government insists it must endure in the agreement until another workable solution can be found.

Mrs Little-Pengelly accused the Irish government of “completely and aggressively” dismissing unionist concerns in relation to the withdrawal agreement and suggested it had damaged relations in a way that would be difficult to rebuild.

However, that is a claim the Irish government has always rejected.

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