I am an Irish citizen that has lived in Ireland in the last few years, so is Harry-Ireland, he cannot weigh in because it is 8 hours ahead there, almost 3 in the morning. I expect he will have a lot to say about this when he wakes and reads it.
Leo Varadkar is on a tightrope, a lot of his support is from relatively conservative supporters, and at least half the people of Ireland voted AGAINST joining the EU in the first referendum. He is Fine Gael which is the absolute centrist party in Ireland, conservative on law and order. It is made more difficult since he is one of the first gay leaders in the world. A lot of Irish would topple him for that alone even though they would not admit it.
Ireland was forced into the EU, and a lot of Irish still feel that way (I do). Many of you do not understand that the Irish border has been open since 1998 when the Good Friday agreements went into effect. That was long before either the UK or Ireland had such a commitment to the EU. Sure both being in the EU made it that much easier, but it was already open. Ireland does a lot of business with Ulster and vice versa. People live in the north and work in the south, it is really almost as if the island were unified after a millennium of occupation and war, servitude, strife and outright starvation which is not forgotten. My father told me his father's stories about his own grandmother who died when her town was abandoned, young leaving to seek food or wages to help, none ever came back. My own father left Ireland at 20 in 1949. Now almost 200 years after the famine the memories are still very much alive.
So, Leo, a centrist gay man has to deal with a newly first world nation that was slammed back to developing nation status in the GFC. And the UK still occupies Ulster, though Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. By now the population of NI is 50-50 protestant-Catholic, and the protestants know that so they are against a referendum to allow Ulster to be reunified with the republic. But, they are actually in a minority, because while the religious divide is 50-50 the EU divide is pro EU which the republic still is.
So, follow where I am going here, if NI were either to vote to leave the UK and rejoin Ireland (with religious guarantees by not only Ireland but the EU of course) or if Ireland held a referendum to leave the EU with Brexit, then the backstop would be null and void as a problem. Unfortunately the Irish have a huge appetite for welfare and socialism, so Ireland leaving the EU is not practical, even though most voted against joining in the Treaty of Lisbon vote the first time. Latest polling shows that Ireland would be the last country to leave the welfare teat of Mario Draghi (Christine Lagarde).
But, Ulster could still leave the UK, it was guaranteed that they would have the right to call a referendum at any time to vote on reunification with Ireland in the Good Friday agreement. So, just do that. What Brexit really comes down to no matter the district remainers or leavers live in is to whom is your loyalty? The UK or EU? Clearly England is in favor of leaving, not so Scotland, NI, or Wales. And I do wonder how many leavers would put EU loyalty over their loyalty to the crown and their history. The crown and the parent nation wants to leave, they voted against but that is way different from ditching their history and monarch, as toothless as the monarch now is after Lady Hale basically stole even the right of the monarch to prorogue for the court system.
Mind you, the Taoiseach (pronounced T-sek Gaelic is a funny language) is in a bind way beyond what this report tells you, and Mish I do hope you admit that. The EU has been manipulating this all along. The continent is milking Britain for everything it is worth while governing them and other nations from Frankfurt and the ECB. I keep saying QUICK who here can name the EU president without looking it up? None of you answers, because the presidency changes every year, as a representative of one of the EU nations, this year one country, next year another and maybe 27 years from now your country will have it's person in that office. But, that person has no power anyway, so why would you care? I know the guy's name but nothing else about him, not even what nation he is from, Tusk, but I know a lot more about Mario Draghi and the other rulers of the EU.
Ireland is a special situation and both the UK and EU have to recognize that. Both are playing with fire. Both are using Ireland as a Brexit football in which one side will win and one side will lose, but, Ireland will lose either way.
So, as an Irish passport holder who has family buried at Clonmacnoise for over 900 years I say let Ireland leave the EU. It is a corrupt and collapsing edifice and will be gone in two years anyway. I am surprised Leo V has not thought of this, maybe he has but polling told him that the people want their welfare checks.
The heavy handed treatment by the EU of any article 50 leaver is evidence that it is tottering, was never really viable. The EU is governed by German corporate and to a lesser degree French socialism, and they feel they must win, it is profitable for them to control all of Europe.
Most of you will shrug and say I would like side X or Y to win, but you just do not get what is at stake here. If Brexit is delivered at the end of this month the EU fails, will cease to exist, it might take a few years but it is finished. If the remainers win the UK will lose all pretense to sovereignty and the ECB/Germany will rule all of Europe. In that last part, Europe will never forget old wounds, they will never be really unified. It will have to become a totalitarian empire run from Frankfurt. It will not be your friend.