Minister David DavisWikimedia Commons

Just when you thought that the momentum might be shifting in favor of a referendum on a possible reunited Ireland, the British bring the Irish the world over back to reality with a bump.

New Northern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, has poured early cold water on the idea of a border poll any time soon.

But that pales when compared to the position of his cabinet colleague, David Davis, the minister in charge of steering the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland included, out of the European Union.

Davis, it would seem, does not seem to believe that there is a real border on the island of Ireland responsible for the actual partition of Ireland.

Indeed Ireland, all of it, is yet in the United Kingdom he would have the world believe.

Stated the British periodical, the New Statesman, in a report: “Poor David Davis, who has been made Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union without, apparently, knowing the Republic of Ireland exists.”

Davis, it turns out, appeared on a Sky News show to discuss the possibility of Scotland remaining in the EU while the rest of the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.

Davis, according to the New Statesman report, told viewers that "one of our really challenging issues . . . will be the internal border we have with southern Ireland.”

And he continued: “We are not going to go about creating other internal borders inside the United Kingdom.”

The New Statesman writer wondered “why might the minister specifically put in charge of negotiating our exit from the EU not know that the UK shares a land border with a European Union country?

“Why does he think that the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK?

“Why is he saying this on national television?”

Why indeed!


Ray O'Hanlon is the editor of the New York-published Irish Echo newspaper. A native of Dublin, O'Hanlon has reported from three continents in a newspaper career spanning 37 years. In addition to his work as a reporter and editor, O'Hanlon has been a frequent contributor to U.S., Irish and British media outlets reporting on Ireland, Irish American affairs, and Anglo-Irish relations. His book, The New Irish Americans (Roberts Rinehart, 1998) was the recipient of a Washington Irving Book Award. The South Lawn Plot, his first fiction work, was published in 2011.