Sinn Fein doesn’t trust the prime minister and you could be forgiven for asking why the Democratic Unionists still do.

He claimed she was otherwise “engaged” but Stormont’s deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill didn’t see the point in “a photo-call” with Boris Johnson.

Why would she when he was visiting a vaccination centre in First Minister Arlene Foster‘s own constituency? That was no coincidence.

This shot-in-the-arm for Unionist relations brought obvious side-effects, fuelling Nationalist fears of him further defaulting on the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Ms O’Neill accused him of a “reckless and partisan approach” to the Protocol, negotiated to ensure there would be no hard border on this island.

She said the PM had not facilitated a “long-standing request” for a meeting with her and her party leader.

“I have no plans to meet with him today,” she added.

In stark contrast, the DUP‘s Arlene Foster stood patiently waiting to welcome Boris Johnson to Enniskillen with an elbow bump.

She heard him before she saw him. “Arlene, how are you?” he boomed from the foyer, “Nice to see you again.”

It was hard to believe this was the same Boris Johnson her party has accused of “betraying Northern Ireland” with a border in the Irish Sea.

He couldn’t have chosen a more symbolic location for this visit. If anywhere understands the danger of Brexit and the Protocol re-opening old wounds, Enniskillen does.

The IRA bombing of the town’s war memorial on Remembrance Sunday 1987 claimed 12 lives.

Mrs Foster, who met with the prime minister for 30 minutes, described him as having been in “listening mode.”

Rightly or wrongly, that implies there could be further unravelling of the agreement he made with the EU.

And that’s exactly why Sinn Fein, the Irish government and the EU have lost any faith they had in Boris Johnson.

The question is why are the Democratic Unionists still pinning their hopes on the man who imposed the sea border they despise?

(c) Sky News 2021: PM fuels unionist hopes and nationalist fears during Northern Ireland visit


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