Symbolism of DUP Leader visit to Killarney should not be underestimated

DUP leader Arlene Foster arriving to the inaugural Killarney Economic Conference - an annual dialogue between political, economic and civic leaders from Britain and Ireland. The Conference focused on Brexit and it’s future, took place on Saturday at the Brehon Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry.Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan/FREE PIC*** ISSUED 13–1-2018

The symbolism of DUP Leader Arlene Foster travelling to Killarney, which was described as being in the deep south, should not be underestimated the inaugural Killarney Economic Conference has heard.

Ms Foster spoke at the Conference of the need for both parts of the island to work together on Brexit for their mutual benefit.

UCC Politics lecturer and President of the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies, Dr Mary C Murphy said there must also be a sensitivity to the Unionist position.

Dr Murphy said the Killarney event had provided one of the first opportunities to hear from Unionists, and that this is critical to finding a way forward.

She said Unionism faces enormous challenges in engaging with the Republic, and that Ms Fosters address had showed a willingness to move forward.

Dr Murphy said that the relationship between the British and Irish government is the bedrock on which the Peace Process is built, and we must be attentive to it, as any breakdown would be bad news for all.

She said that the Peace Process is still incomplete, and co-operation is needed to maintain and strengthen it.

She warned that embarking on a discussion on Irish unity might release what she described as sinister forces as well, and caution was needed.

Dr Murphy said that there must be a sensitivity to the situation we find ourselves in as a result of the Brexit vote, and this must include a sensitivity to Unionism.