Who dropped the ball yesterday in the biggest game in Europe? – By Brian Rowan 

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Are we missing something in this Brexit story – not seeing something that contributed to the shambles of Monday?

Or is this balls-up really down to some miscalculation of the DUP position?

It is hard to believe that Prime Minister Theresa May would have had such a gap in her political intelligence at such a crucial and critical moment in this negotiation; an intelligence blind spot that would lead to the screaming and embarrassing headlines of failure on Tuesday.

As details of the leaked text began to emerge on Monday – and the wording designed to give reassurance that there would be no hard border – one politician at Stormont commented: “This is nationalism’s day.”

If it was to be such, then it was not going to be the DUP’s day. Then, between morning and afternoon, talk of a deal became confirmation of no deal; not yet anyway.

Taoiseach Leo Vardakar was “surprised and disappointed”, with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney adding that the Irish Government wants to ensure that the wording of the text – they believed had been agreed – remains intact.

Late on Monday, the DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tweeted his response.



My question remains the opening thought in this piece: Are we missing something in this Brexit story?

Think of the build-up to yesterday’s events; those many statements and interviews  and tweets in which the DUP set out its position in the latter part of last week – words from Arlene Foster, Nigel Dodds, Sammy Wilson, Ian Paisley, Jeffrey Donaldson and Peter Robinson, who told Dublin “to wind its neck in”.

Was all of that missed?

Why did Arlene Foster have to restate her party’s position on Monday at lunchtime?



Is there something in the thought that my colleague Eamonn Mallie tweeted late on Monday; suggesting that in an effort to get the deal done, that Theresa May “was prepared to throw the DUP under the bus”?



It would not be the first time, of course, that a government went over the heads of unionists.

Think of the Anglo-Irish Agreement; but, these three decades and more later, if Prime Minister May was contemplating such a risk – a move that would have had implications for the confidence and supply agreement at Westminster – then why did she stop?

Why were the brakes applied in Brussels?

There has to be something more to this than misreading the DUP on such a key negotiation point. That explanation doesn’t add up.

So, there is something that we are not yet seeing in this jigsaw; a missing piece.

Did the reactions in Scotland, Wales and London – that if there was to be some special deal here why not elsewhere –  prompt some re-think and pause?



There are questions still to be answered, detail to be added to developments and, in all the Brexit headlines of Monday, something else was missed.

A news conference at Stormont in which Sinn Fein made clear the mountain still to climb in negotiations here.

Party Chairman Declan Kearney said there would have to be absolute certainty that any new talks would be substantive, real, outcome-focused and would deliver on rights issues.

This is the only route back to government.



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About Author

Eamonn Mallie

I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.


  1. Commentators must realise that not only is NI broken, so is the UK. That sad fact follows on as a logical consequence of the loss of a great Empire. In itself, the United Kingdom is an anomaly. Four ‘nations’ have been uncomfortably lumped together as a means whereby London could exercise control. Excepting Ireland, this amalgam has held together until recently, and indeed was cemented by two World Wars. Brexit has changed everything. England has detached itself from the political will of the Irish and the Scots. It is adrift on a sea of uncertainty. God knows what will happen next.

    • Hopefully, the break-up of the UK. As you point out it is an un-natural and now unworkable arrangement, with no equivalent elsewhere. The longer the Brexit farce goes on, the more that this will be clear to everyone (except perhaps the DUP and a die-hard section of the tory party).

  2. Jake Mac Siacais on

    Given monday’s events how did we end up with ex senior dublin diplomats on RU on tues telling us how Coveney didn’t understand Unionists?

  3. From a Scottish perspective, I support the chaos theory here. Many people appear to think that there is a logical process of thought and planning behind the UK government’s stance, and that their approach is an honest one.
    Neither of these theories is true.
    The admission by David Davies that there were in fact no impact assessment documents (despite the earllier protestations that these documents not only existed, but were being withheld due to fears over their economic effect on the UK) proves that the UK government is at best dishonest, at worst actively malevolent.
    I think we have a government in complete chaos here in the UK.
    They literally are lying in their teeth, and the fact that they tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the DUP (for whom I have no sympathy at all) proves that they are utterly without any sense of perspective or honesty. Survival, and the hope that this will all somehow go away, are the only guiding principles that this Tory government follows.
    I am beginning to believe that 2018 will see a UK general election, in which May will hope that she gains seats and no longer needs the support of the DUP, or indeed that she loses the election, in which case, it’s over to you, Jeremy Corbin!
    In any event, if the SNP wins a majority of seats in Scotland, we should immediately advise London that we propose to institute UDI, as leaving the EU will be utterly catastrophic for Scotland.

    • Or possibly there are impact assessments, but they are so negative that Davies just can’t let them go public and is lying instead about their existence. Apart from that I agree wholeheartedly – its high time Scotland left this ramshackle remnant of the British Empire to it’s slow (or rather now, fast,) decline.

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