Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party puts forward a nuanced vision of the future of these Isles at a recent Killarney conference. Could the “nordic” model, where close co-operation exists between countries, some of which are inside, and some of which are outside the EU work in the case of the UK and Republic of Ireland? Is there a greater future for the British-Irish Council? Do our common institutions, the North-South institutions, but also crucially the East-West dimension, such as the Common Travel Area and other harmonising strategies be the way forward for these islands, our common home in the north Atlantic?
“Whilst the referendum was a vote by the British people, the ripples that flow from the referendum result will be far reaching with long-term implications for people well beyond the shores of the United Kingdom. And I appreciate and understand that nowhere will be more impacted by the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union than Ireland.”
writes Dan O’Brien, Irish Independent, 29 Oct 2017.
Underpinning Irish foreign policy is a belief in an open, free-trading world supported by international institutions with solid rules-based foundations. The concrete expression of this posture is membership of a whole array of international organisations.
With Brexit becoming a reality, and the prospect of a ‘hard’ border in Ireland looming, could this now be a good time to work towards an agreed Ireland involving closer ties to the Commonwealth of Nations, together with other options such as the continuance of a relationship between Northern Ireland and the European Union as well as the Republic of Ireland? It seems that in this new climate, all options are on the table.