Ah yes, Brexit, the gift that keeps on giving. Except, unlike most gifts which you would typically be glad to receive - for example. a new jumper; an antique clock, or a time-share in a show-pony, Brexit is a little different. Gift-wise, it is a little bit like that childhood birthday party staple, 'pass the parcel'. It feels as if we are constantly pulling back layers, and layers, seemingly getting no closer to what actually lies within - and then, suddenly, we are in amongst it, the mound of evidently human excrement that some maniacal sadist has, for whatever reason, decided to gift-wrap and spin as some much sought-after gift. That, that is Brexit.
Well, while we are still more than a month away from unwrapping this true harrowing core that lies at the centre of the Brexit process, again, much like pass the parcel, it would be foolish of us to not expect their to be a few nuggets along the way, interspersed into proceedings, to give us a taste of what's to come. While those nuggets themselves* have been coming thick and fast, making it seem as if we are constantly wading through an endless torrent of them, there have been some, particularly egregious moments, that have stood out, even above this maelstrom.
Today provided one such moment.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and seeming answer to the question, "If Zag - of Zig & Zag fame - had a grand-father, what would he look like?", was speaking to a select committee meeting of MPs in the House of Commons about border relations between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the wake of Britain seceding from the EU on 29 March.
He spoke of the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement, which he helped orchestrate and that was ratified in 1998, which helped legally clarify the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. He said that at times, when he has heard "some distinguished members of parliament" talking about there being "no basis existing for divergence of any kind between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, I look to wondering had I turned into Rip Van Winkle, that great man from the legend who fell asleep for 20 years and woke up finding everything changed".
In response to these comments, and with regard to the predominant sticking point in Britain's negotiations with the EU over Brexit, that of clarifying the type of border that will exist between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, one MP, Peter Grant, posed a truly astounding question. While suggesting some of the possibilities for helping to ease this issue and streamline Britain's negotiations - including Ireland just deciding it also wants out of the EU to make things easier for the UK - he brought Mr. Ahern's attention to a suggestion, that he said, 'is the subject of a petition to this parliament' which is that 'the Republic [of Ireland] should re-join the United Kingdom and that would solved all these problems. What's your impressions of how these various suggestions have been received by the people of Ireland?"
To see the video, visit The Irish Times website.
One can almost hear the baffled silence that permeated the room following these questions. A silence, brief , yet so deep and so suggestively insinuating the profound stupidity of these comments that it seems to reverberate through your very bones. The derisory laughs that billow forth from the people surrounding Mr. Grant must surely have made him realise the infinite expanse of stupidity that had just issued forth from his mouth. Mr. Ahern then graciously responds - an opening to a sentence that one feels has rarely been typed - "Well I'll just be kind and say not very well".
It is simply staggering for an elected official in the United Kingdom to have such a poor understanding of the historical dynamics between the Republic of Ireland and of the United Kingdom. What's more, the MP in question, Peter Grant, is a member of the SNP - a party who possesses, as one of their key tenets, a stated interest in Scotland gaining independence from the United Kingdom. Peter Grant has also spoken about how long it would take before another independence referendum could be mounted in Scotland following the defeat of the 2014 referendum. To say this while being affiliated with a movement and political party, that possesses many overlaps with Ireland's political parties and historical struggles, in terms of its desires for independence and political divergence from the UK, exhibits a staggering gap in his understanding of both history and contemporary political relations.
H/T: The Irish Times
*I would like it to be known that it was at this point in proceedings where I lost faith in the use of this metaphor and questioned my wisdom with continuing ahead with it. However, alas, I felt as if I were in too deep to call a halt to these developments, and thus grimly carried on this foolhardy endeavour, thus providing me with a newfound renewed sympathy for some of those who've found themselves having to handle the Brexit process.