The Telegraph and the Irish Examiner published a letter I had written to the editor on 12 May 2015. It said that David Cameron should hold an immediate referendum to decide the in-out EU question and I continued with this: “The breakdown of the vote in each constituency (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England) would be interesting – and might give a lead as to what will happen to the union once the decision on Europe has been made.”
Now, with grief, I witness Brexit and the union splintering.
I witness, in Northern Ireland, violence. Tyres and bins set on fire near the interface gates which open in a wall that separates two communities. The PSNI closing the gates.
The worst of it isn’t the border down the Irish sea. It is the border between two communities marked by a wall and interface gates. Not the Berlin wall, not the Palestinian wall, a wall within the six counties of Northern Ireland reinforcing false divisions between people. Protestant. Catholic. Unionist. Republican.
The Good Friday agreement and membership of the EU was breaking down that divide. There was harmony in feeling a shared set of values across all identities in Northern Ireland. Hope and history had been rhyming.
Being Europeans with common purpose must have felt an awful lot more grown-up. Those accountable for this mess are currently in power in the UK. Shame on them. Thrice shame on their leader. His self-interest knows no bounds. He is an amoral danger, like his counterpart who recently departed (was forced off) the American stage.
Letter to the editor published in the Belfast Telegraph on 12 April 2021
Alison Hackett — Director and founder of 21st Century Renaissance; author of The Visual Time Traveller 500 Years of History, Art and Science in 100 Unique Designs