THE city of Belfast has been infested in the past week with posters of new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar against the background of the rubble and chaos of the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan loyalist atrocity. The message underneath reads: ‘The possibility of violence is very real.’
The posters are to be found mostly in loyalist districts, but needless to say they have made their way into interface areas.
The poster campaign is clearly an attempt to reference a crude piece of propaganda which is the  keystone in the shaky arch of mistruths and bad faith that is the unionist anti-Protocol campaign. The claim is that nationalist representatives have won concessions from Europe and to a lesser extent the UK by raising the spectre of a renewal of the conflict in the event of a hard border on the island of Ireland. The incident referred to at every possible juncture was one in October 2018 when it is alleged that then Taoiseach Mr Varadkar held up a picture of the aftermath of the bombing of a border post in 1972 when speaking about his opposition to a hard border.
In fact, Mr Varadkar had held up a copy of a story in the Irish Times about the possibility of dissident republican attacks on customs posts if infrastructure returned to the border. And in turn, that story was given credence by a statement from George Hamilton, then Chief Constable, fully 10 months earlier when he said that a fortified frontier would have to be guarded round the clock and that his officers’ lives would therefore be placed at greater risk from anti-peace process republicans.

In other words, the idea that a hard border in Ireland risks a return to violence is not just something that has occurred to nationalist politicians – much as the contention is well-nigh inarguable – and it is not a piece of mischief-making designed to extract political concessions; it is the stated belief of those whose job it will be to ensure that any hard border remains in place.
It is worth remembering that those senior unionist figures now beating their chests hardest about the iniquities of the Protocol were warmly welcoming of it fully three years after the Chief Constable’s warning  and that their screeching U-turns and new-found passionate opposition to the Protocol – and to the words and actions of Mr Varadkar – only came after they were portrayed as sell-outs by career agitators on the periphery of unionism.
Needless to say, the shocking new Leo Varadkar posters – which are a threat to murder large numbers of people if the Protocol is not removed – have caused the needle on the unionist fury dial to move not a hair’s-width while Mr Varadkar referencing an Irish Times story had the usual suspects condemning him with the usual spittle-flecked panto hysteri. And ‘Ooh, ah, up the Ra’, of course, has them swooning into the fainting couch in a performative paroxysm. But a city covered in loyalist threats to bomb Catholic civilians attracts not a word of response.

Standard stuff.