Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus
    “The Irish News of Belfast consistently provides reliable and objective reportage on key Northern Ireland issues, including Brexit.
    Today’s Editorial should be of interest to all Members of Congress concerned about justice and peace on the whole partitioned  island of Ireland.—Fr. Sean McManus

    Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Thursday, April 4, 2019

    The angry response from the DUP to yesterday’s high profile talks between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn effectively confirmed that the party’s realization that it had failed to play its cards astutely and was heading firmly back to the Westminster sidelines.

    There can be no doubt that the outcome of the 2017 UK general election, which Mrs. May came to bitterly regret calling and left her without a parliamentary majority, gave the ten DUP MPs a short-term opportunity of considerable proportions.

    However, rather than aligning itself with mainstream Conservatives who wanted to draw up Brexit plans which had a chance of actually being delivered, the DUP was instead attracted to the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

    Mr. Johnson and Mr. Rees-Mogg were happy to be cheered at various DUP gatherings, and loudly proclaim their commitment to the Union, but proved extremely unreliable allies as soon as the wider pressure intensified.

    By the stage when DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said last week he would rather remain in the EU than risk outcomes which in his view risked the break-up of the UK, a parting of the ways became inevitable.

    Mrs. May, for her part, has clearly concluded that any Brexit solution which may emerge before she finally departs from office – which is likely to be sooner rather than later – is not going to involve the DUP.

    Her decision to seek the support of Mr. Corbyn has not gone down well with the most fervently anti-EU elements in her party, but she is entitled to point out the lack of other options available if her Withdrawal Agreement is ever to get through the House of Commons.

    The erratic nature of Mrs. May’s performance, and the huge uncertainties about the attitude to Irish issues of whoever succeeds her in Downing Street, has underlined the overwhelming need for a backstop which provides reassurance that a seamless border will remain in place.

    While the DUP has set its face against a backstop, 27 EU states and an increasing number of MPs from all the other main Westminster groups hold a very different opinion.

    If Mrs. May cannot find common ground with Mr. Corbyn, the prospect of another UK general election will inevitably rise to the top of the political agenda.

    When voters last went to the polls two years ago, suggestions that pro-EU parties might field agreed candidates in some key Northern Ireland constituencies were not ultimately pursued.

    The scale of the crisis which we now face could well mean that a revised approach, with direct consequences for the level of DUP representation, proves possible.