In November 2018, I attended one of those sports events that leave their mark. It was a rugby match in Dublin between Ireland and the New Zealand All Blacks, where for the first time the Irish beat the Kiwis, considered the best in this sport. In the morning, at the Shelbourne hotel where I was staying, I was able to greet Jordi Murphy, a player born in Barcelona, but of Irish parents, who was a fan of Barça and Messi. The baptism as Jordi was because his parents thought it was the most Catalan name possible. Back home at the age of nine, he decided that rugby was his sport. When I met him, he was a Ulster Club player and he explained to me that several players from Northern Ireland were also playing in the green jacket, despite being formally British. “Sport unites what politics does not achieve,” he came to tell me.
Certainly, the European Union was the ideal framework to sign the Good Friday agreement in 1998, which restored peace to the island, as the lack of borders between two European partners such as Great Britain and Ireland made things easier. Furthermore, the Northern Ireland protocol, as a result of Brexit, kept Ulster within the customs space of the EU internal market. It was a way to avoid imposing a border (there is supposed to be an invisible one at sea) that would resurrect wounds from the past that seemed to have healed. In any case, Unionist Protestants have felt abandoned by London, the lockdowns have excited spirits and the delay in the arrival of goods by the new Brexit bureaucracy has once again altered the streets, as pitched battles have raged in recent nights. returned to Northern Ireland. And the Protestants have launched a campaign of civil disobedience that does not invite optimism, fearful that one day soon Ireland will be a single territory. Today even the chief of police is a Catholic.
Unionists feel abandoned by Boris Johnson after Brexit
It is clear that, as predicted by the doomsayers, the United Kingdom will have to change its name, as Northern Ireland and Scotland are two stones in the shoe of the prime minister, to whom the mass vaccination of the population has restored moments of glory. But the unionists feel betrayed by their prime minister. They are heard repeating about Johnson the phrase that the conservative Rab Butler dedicated to Churchill: “The limpid tradition of English politics has been sold to the greatest adventurer in modern political history.”