Brexit: Could the Windsor Framework repair tense ties between the UK and Ireland

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

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

With the UK and Northern Ireland, it has a shared land border.

It is well aware of the delicate feelings of unionists living north of the border who consider the Northern Ireland Protocol to be a threat to their British identity.

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

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has refused to participate in the political institutions established by the 25-year-old Good Friday Agreement that helped establish the peace process after three decades of violence in Northern Ireland because unionist sentiment against it is so strong.

In Dublin, focus will now shift to whether the DUP, the largest unionist party at Stormont, believes the Windsor Framework offers enough to reinstate the power-sharing government in Belfast.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
In Dublin, there will be a lot of interest in hearing Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's thoughts on the Windsor Framework.

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

There should, however, be no outright rejection that comes right away.

In the upcoming days, we can anticipate hearing a lot of the adages "the perfect is the enemy of the good" and "in any negotiation nobody gets everything they want.".

The UK government has attempted to back out of a Brexit agreement twice before, mainly due to internal conflicts within the Conservative Party.

But there is optimism in Dublin that this time will be the third time lucky, in part because the cost of failure is too high to bear in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, including a potential trade war over broken promises.

Without a doubt, Brexit damaged the positive ties that had previously existed between the UK and Ireland due to their shared interest in Northern Ireland affairs following the Good Friday Agreement.

The Windsor Framework is now expected to facilitate a reset between the two countries as well as between the UK and the rest of the EU.

But it's still just hope; it's not yet certainty or confidence.

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