Brexit: Can the Windsor Framework mend tense UK-Ireland relations

A map of Ireland, with the border separating the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland highlighted in bold red

More than any other EU member state, the Republic of Ireland wants Brexit to finally be completed.

Its shared land border with the UK and Northern Ireland.

It is well aware of the delicate feelings of unionists who live north of the border and believe that the Northern Ireland Protocol undermines their sense of Britishness.

The protocol effectively established a trade border for goods traveling across the Irish Sea from Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to take part in the political institutions established by the 25-year-old Good Friday Agreement, which helped anchor the peace process after three decades of violence in Northern Ireland, as a result of the intensity of unionist sentiment against that.

Whether the DUP, the largest unionist party at Stormont, finds the Windsor Framework satisfactory enough to rejoin the power-sharing government in Belfast will now be the focus of attention in Dublin.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Dubliners will be eager to hear Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, comment on the Windsor Framework.

Few anticipate the DUP to ratify the new agreement right away, in part because it must run in the May council elections in Northern Ireland.

However, it is hoped that there won't be a blatant, immediate rejection.

We can anticipate hearing the proverbs "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "in any negotiation nobody gets everything they want" a lot in the coming days.

The UK government has attempted to back out of a Brexit deal it had agreed to twice, largely as a result of conflicts within the Conservative Party.

The price of failure, which could include a trade war over broken promises, is too high to pay in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, but there is optimism in Dublin that this time it will be third time lucky.

There is no question that Brexit damaged the positive ties that the UK and Ireland once shared due to their shared interest in Northern Ireland affairs following the Good Friday Agreement.

The Windsor Framework is now expected to enable a reset, not just between the two countries but also between the UK and the larger EU.

However, it is still only hope and not yet certainty or confidence.

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