SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon recounts her memorable first meeting with Boris Johnson 1 month ago

SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon recounts her memorable first meeting with Boris Johnson

She was not impressed.

Boris Johnson has not visited the Irish border either in his time as Foreign Minister or as Prime Minister of the UK.

He has repeatedly shown an ignorance about the realities of border in both his actions and his words, most notably when he suggested crossing the Irish border could be solved in the same way technology was deployed to collect congestion charges between Camden and Westminster when he was London mayor.

On the evidence presented, it would be acceptable for any Northern Irish politicians to be skeptical of Johnson's ability to solve the current issues regarding the backstop.

But there's long been a train of thought a lot of Johnson's actions are simply bluster, and that he's very different behind closed doors.

Well, not according to SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon, who was left unimpressed by her first meeting with the new, and potentially short-serving, Prime Minister.

"You know when you see a public persona and you think ‘Ok’ but when you go behind closed doors it’ll be a different type of person with dept?" Mallon said on Ireland Unfiltered.

"No. No. And that kind of took me aback. It was a very direct meeting."

Mallon said the meeting lasted around 15 minutes, but the attendees were none the wiser on what would happen at the end of it.

"He began it by a spiel and I got a little bit cross in the sense that it was very clear that he didn’t have any clear understanding of the fragilities, and the uniqueness of Northern Ireland, and I was also very cross that he had come over for this flying visit and he wasn’t engaging with the business sector, farmers, community groups, the people who are actually going to have to live with the consequences of his tactics and his politics.

"So my message to him was very clear, that he needed to avoid a hard Brexit. He needed to live up to his responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. And then I was very clear that he was in danger of causing damage to relationships between London and Dublin and across these islands which are really important and have been built up over many years and are critical to our peace process.

"I had said that because he had been Prime Minister for quite some time and he hadn’t been engaging with the Taoiseach and there was no plans. So I emphasised in the importance of building, maintaining and fostering those relationships and to recognise that the DUP’s worldview of events in Northern Ireland and their analysis is not the right one," she said.