Last week, for the umpteenth time, the BBC broadcast a discussion programme from close to the border – this time from Newry. Scarcely a day goes by that a national broadcaster doesn’t air another programme from some bleak backwater along the Irish frontier. We’re told that this is necessary in order to understand properly how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland.
It’s become mandatory too for politicians to tramp the muddy lanes and fields that divide north and south. Back when there was some hope that Theresa May could still negotiate a respectable deal with the EU, the prime minister was harangued for visiting a farm outside Bangor – Northern Ireland’s third largest settlement – rather than following the well-worn path to Enniskillen or Londonderry.
She should apparently have copied various Eurocrats and Labour MPs who listened to carefully curated propaganda from nationalists, the Irish government and arch-remainers in the border’s vicinity. In the telling of some reporters, the residents of these areas have a special fund of knowledge and wisdom that is almost mystical.