In October last year the EESC adopted an own-initiative opinion (rapporteur: Jane Morrice – that’s her in the picture) on the role of the EU in the Northern Ireland peace process (read the opinion here). The debate at the time was very moving, involving speakers from all parts of the ‘island of Ireland’ but it was also very revealing, for the EU clearly played a far more important role in Northern Ireland than is commonly recognised. This was confirmed yesterday in an article (‘Northern Ireland’s European Peace’) written by Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, on E!Sharp magazine’s website. Powell writes: ‘The border between Ireland and the UK just came to mean much less once we were both in the EU. This was particularly brought home to me when Ian Paisley, the fire-breathing DUP leader, came to see Tony Blair in the midst of the 2005 Foot and Mouth crisis in the UK and in an attempt to take advantage of the looser restrictions on movement of cattle in the south than in the north said, “Our people may be British but our cows are Irish”.’ I can just imagine the scene.