After spending months insisting that there could never possibly be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar raised eyebrows this afternoon when he suggested that Ireland may have to send troops to the border if there is a no-deal Brexit. The move comes as the EU’s own position on the border has wavered in recent days, with Michel Barnier offering contradicting statements about whether the EU would have to check goods in Ireland if Britain left without a deal.
Speaking at Davos, Varadkar insisted that if a hard Brexit took place, as well as cameras and physical infrastructure, the border would also need ‘people in uniform’ and an ‘army presence to back it up.’
Predictably, this has gotten the backs up of the Irish republican party Sinn Fein. The party’s president Mary Lou McDonald has issued a withering rebuke in response, describing Varadkar’s comments as both ‘reckless and irresponsible’. Fair enough, no one wants a return to the violence that has plagued Northern Ireland.
But Mr Steerpike does wonder if Sinn Fein are the best party to be lecturing people about a militarisation of the Irish border…