by Martin Odoni

I warned you, everyone.

I warned you, and warned you, and warned you.

But I am just a blogger. A small voice. Smallness of voice is seen as a reason to ignore it.

So when I warned that if Brexit was mishandled, it would threaten the fragile peace of Northern Ireland, most Brexiteers I pointed it out to just ignored me. The few who listened simply laughed, and mocked, and called me a scaremonger.

Maybe I should take a grim satisfaction from being proved right. But I do not.

Violence of a type not seen in decades has returned to Northern Ireland
1980s Belfast revisited
People in Britain and Ireland born before 1995 will remember growing up alongside scenes like these
These scenes are not as terrible as those seen at the height of The Troubles, but beyond doubt they are a frightening return to the ways of a very bloody past that most of us had hoped we had left behind for good.
Flames, missiles, rioting… That is Boris Johnson’s legacy to the Irish
A moment similar to recent scenes in Bristol, but the causes and context are quite, quite different
It was so obvious as recently as 2018, probably earlier, what was going to happen if Brexit was allowed to disrupt the Good Friday Agreement
Fighting and burning in Carrickfergus as well. Photo c/o ‘Pacemaker’
Photo c/o Laim McBurney/PA Wire

Anyone who ever takes ‘satisfaction’ from seeing the resumption of scenes like these is probably sick.

There is a danger of over-reacting of course, just because it is Northern Ireland. The scenes do bear resemblance to recent scenes in Bristol, London and Manchester. But in those cities, there is clear evidence that most of the attacks were carried out by police against peaceful demonstrators, and the opposition in England is largely directed against a proposed new law with the potential to ban protests. What is happening in Northern Ireland is bigger, and even more fundamental. And it has loomed so long and so large over the province, those who bothered to look could see it approaching from the horizon for three years.

Just because Brexit finally went ahead last year, do not imagine for one minute that it has ceased to be a shambles

What a pity the shouts of warning were dismissed as a ruse. We see now that they are not. Of course, the Troubles have not fully resumed yet, but the disturbances are likely to continue and to grow. Loyalists are unhappy that there is now effectively a border between Britain and Ireland at the Irish coast, and that Northern Ireland is closer-aligned with Eire than it is with Britain. They feel, not without reason, that the Conservative Party, which was kept in office for several years by Loyalist support, principally the Democratic Unionist Party, has betrayed them. Nationalists will be witnessing the violence happening almost nightly, and will be gearing up to defend themselves.

I truly do not know yet whether they will lead to a resumption of outright civil war. But one thing I do state with confidence is that if that deceitful, ten-faced, self-aggrandising buffoon, Boris Johnson, had never been allowed near the Brexit process to begin with, that poor, battered, neglected province of the UK would not now be teetering this close to the edge.