Arlene Foster: Disturbing – or disturbed.

The Democratic Unionist Party – and its leader, Arlene Foster – must have known they were being asked to help Theresa May see through the UK’s departure from the European Union when they signed their “confidence and supply” agreement with her.

It seems clear, with that party’s determination to block any agreement that creates different conditions in Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, that Ms Foster is keen to support Mrs May’s plan to restore a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

That’s very handy for Mrs May – but very nasty for the peace process. Any restrictions on movement between NI and Eire could re-spark the so-called ‘Troubles’, after 20 years of peace. Nobody should want that.

Ms Foster, it seems, has very personal reasons not to want that. She has said that her father was shot by the IRA, and the same organisation bombed her school bus, severely injuring the girl sitting next to her.

She knows exactly what the ‘Troubles’ were – but she is playing down the consequences of her support for Mrs May’s hard Brexit.

She told business leaders in London that “threats of violence” on the Northern Ireland border being used as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit talks were “an insult to the people of Northern Ireland”:

Addressing the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) conference, Ms Foster said: “I do object in the strongest terms to people who have limited experience of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, throwing threats of violence around as some kind of bargaining chip in the negotiating process.

“To do so is an insult to the people of Northern Ireland, who have worked so hard to bring peace to our country.”

So it seems a person who has experienced the worst effects of the ‘Troubles’ is determined to support plans that may bring them back.

I find that deeply disturbing.

It isn’t long since people in the United States were calling for psychiatrists to analyse the state of President Trump’s mind.

Perhaps we should demand a similar investigation into Arlene Foster.


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