Nobody can believe the DUP leader’s latest gaffe on a ‘hard border’ in Ireland

Border checkpoint Ireland
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 15 January, the DUP’s Arlene Foster explained her party’s opposition to the Brexit backstop deal for Northern Ireland. She said “it is a bit of a nonsense to talk about a hard border” in Ireland. But she went further, saying “we never had a hard border”. This shocked people with an understanding of Irish politics. And they expressed those feelings openly.

What is the backstop deal?

The backstop deal wants to keep an open border in Ireland after the UK leaves the EU. And the UK is to leave the EU on 29 March this year. Currently, there’s freedom of movement across Ireland for people, goods and services. Only limited restrictions exist.

The DUP opposes the current backstop agreement and Brexit deal. It says:

Northern Ireland would be treated differently than the rest of the United Kingdom

Rewriting history

When Foster said “we never had a hard border” in Ireland, however, people responded in disbelief. And the first reactions showed images of the “hard border”:

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long couldn’t believe Foster’s comments either. She described them as “a blatant untruth about the border”:

People also told personal stories of “checkpoints, searches and degradation”:

Although some took a humorous view of Foster’s comments:

The “hard border”

While the border didn’t cause past violence, it did exist. Foster comes from a border community and suffered personally during the conflict. So her comments are confusing. But it’s no excuse for trying to airbrush it from history.

Featured image Vox/YouTube

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