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Thread: Brexit and the Irish border

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Brexit and the Irish border

    Among the problems thrown up by the UK exiting the EU, the most intractable (and yet most predictable) may be the UK's only land border: the one between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

    The 310 mile (500 km) border has more than 200 land crossings, some of which are laneways through someone's farm, and was impossible to monitor even at the height of "The Troubles". Today, you can cross it without noticing, except when kilometre signs turn to mileage and the phone signal switches to a different provider. Thousands of people live and work on opposite sides, or cross it for other reasons, including medical treatment. This is made easier by both jurisdictions being within the EU. The Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to 1998 after years of negotiation and compromise, assumes that RoI and the UK will work together "as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union".

    Brexit complicates that situation, to say the least.

    Because Britain is on course to leave the E.U.ís tariff-free single market, imports and exports must somehow be monitored across this 310-mile-long barrier....
    So how can some system be worked out? The U.K. remaining in the single market is an obvious solution, but thatís not on the table. Another possibility: keeping Northern Ireland in the single market, along with the Republic, and having a customs border along the Irish Sea....

    The main obstacle to this solution, however, would be the above-mentioned DUP, who are suspicious that a Northern Irish customs union with the Republic of Ireland but not with the U.K. might be a creeping move toward the pan-Irish unification they are constitutionally opposed to. Given that the DUP is currently keeping Theresa Mayís government in power, it holds serious sway.....
    If a solution isnít worked out, Brexit negotiations may stall, raising the risk of Britain crashing out of the E.U. with no deal. Some sort of compromise could ultimately be worked out, but current British approaches donít inspire much confidence: So far, the problem is being greeted with a mix of magical thinking and shouting.
    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/...border/546887/

    What is particularly frustrating is that anyone who knew anything about NI could have predicted this. The issue was ignored and kicked down the line, and now Theresa May's govt is claiming surprise. It would be farcical if the stakes weren't so high.
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  2. #2
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    What an utter mess this is.


  3. #3
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    I listened to a long piece on this issue on NPR a couple of weeks ago. It had never occurred to me to think of the difficulties here, having been back and forth across that border at will when I visited. But of course, as you say, autumnleaf, all the Irish folk interviewed for the piece (from both NI & RoI) were *absolutely* aware, and nervous. Can't really say it better than Helix. An utter mess, indeed.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    There should be an award for the stupidest statement of the past few weeks. So many choices....

    The "know your place" award:
    "Ireland's naive young prime minister should shut his gob on Brexit and grow up".
    - The Sun newspaper

    The "channelling Trump" award:
    "If this ends with a no deal we won't be putting up the border, they'll have to pay for it because it doesn't need to happen."
    - Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall

    The "just plain mean" award:
    "Ireland is like the weakest kid in the playground sucking up to the EU bullies."
    - Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP

    The "I'll have a slice of racism with that" award:
    "Simon Coveney is stirring things up. Very dangerous non statesman like role! Clearly hoping to undermine the Indian."
    - John Taylor, former Ulster Unionist politician
    [The "Indian" is Irish PM Leo Varadkar, who was born and bred in Dublin but has a father from Mumbai.]

    The "you failed history" award:
    "The point is that the Irish border is about so much more than economics and trade. It's hundreds years of history; Ireland has poisoned UK politics and brought down governments for centuries, and may well do so again."
    - Jeremy Warner, associate editor for the Daily Telegraph

    The "you failed geography" award:
    Nearly everyone in this video: https://twitter.com/Channel4News/sta...99685611515904
    [extra WTF points for the elderly lady at 2:20, "I do think the Irish are just making trouble because they lost".]

    The "turning in her grave" award:
    Mo Mowlam (1949-2005), Labor MP and Northern Ireland Secretary. Key player in brokering the peace deal and the Good Friday Agreement. Legacy being trashed by current generation of politicians.

    The "multiple facepalm" award:
    Everyone else.
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  5. #5
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Another mess no one apparently thought about when they were blowing the horn for (and voting for) Brexit.

    I guess it shouldn't surprise me given how dim many politicians (and voters) in my own country are with regards to consequences.

    Seems like we're hearing about a new complication of Brexit every few days in the news. It's discouraging that so many in the media seem to be clueless too.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 11-30-2017 at 12:19 AM.
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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW stephenf's Avatar
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    Hi
    I don't really know if it is, as some pople are saying . My family is Irish , I was born and lived in London . We traveled to Ireland every year, without passports , we just got off the ferry ,never noticed a border . This all happen befor the Uk or Ireland was in the EU . Of course the problem is the movement of goods , not people . Ireland's membership to the EU has not been as good as promised .I know most of my own family living there are looking at the events in the Uk with interest . It is a bigger problem for the EU , and one that they will need to solve.
    Last edited by stephenf; 11-30-2017 at 02:27 AM.

  7. #7
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
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    United Ireland solves the issue tho

  8. #8
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    United Ireland solves the issue tho
    That's worthy of adding to autumnleaf's second post.


  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    I don't really know if it is, as some pople are saying . My family is Irish , I was born and lived in London . We traveled to Ireland every year, without passports , we just got off the ferry ,never noticed a border . This all happen befor the Uk or Ireland was in the EU . Of course the problem is the movement of goods , not people .
    Movement of people isn't so much a problem because of the Common Travel Area.

    Movement of good will be an issue if there are different regulations on either side of the border:

    Some in the UK argue that the UK can leave the border open after Brexit, charging no tariffs and making no inspections, and dare the European Union to be the first to put up customs posts. Would this actually work? No. If it did not charge tariffs on imports from the EU, a post-Brexit UK would break the rules of the World Trade Organization, which operates on a ďmost-favoured nationĒ (MFN) principle of equal treatment. This can be overridden by bilateral, or regional trade agreement. But it will take years for the UK to agree a trade deal with the EU: the UK cannot simply preempt it by holding tariffs at zero from the off. If it does discriminate in this way, it will be vulnerable to widespread litigation.
    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/irel...ules-1.3307267

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    Ireland's membership to the EU has not been as good as promised .I know most of my own family living there are looking at the events in the Uk with interest . It is a bigger problem for the EU , and one that they will need to solve.
    The EU has its problems, but overall it has been very good for Ireland. In 1973, when both RoI and the UK joined the EU, RoI was one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Today it is one of the richest. Polls show that 88% of Irish people support staying in the EU.

    Quote Originally Posted by Curlz View Post
    United Ireland solves the issue tho
    According to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a United Ireland can come about only if the majority of the people in NI vote in favour. Current polls show about 55% in favour of staying in the UK. Interestingly, support for a UI is higher among younger people, so it may be a matter of time before it happens. But now is probably not the time.

    Also, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who you can probably guess are strongly against a UI, are currently propping up the Tory Govt in the UK.

    Enforcing unification on NI without a strong majority would break the terms of the GFA and runs the risk of restarting the Troubles.
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  10. #10
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    Hi
    I don't really know if it is, as some pople are saying . My family is Irish , I was born and lived in London . We traveled to Ireland every year, without passports , we just got off the ferry ,never noticed a border . This all happen befor the Uk or Ireland was in the EU . Of course the problem is the movement of goods , not people . Ireland's membership to the EU has not been as good as promised .I know most of my own family living there are looking at the events in the Uk with interest . It is a bigger problem for the EU , and one that they will need to solve.
    This in a nutshell is the arrogance of the English. And the politicians in general who don't understand the fundamental problem.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    It just became even more farcical.

    As the day unfolded like an episode of The Thick of It, the politicians in Brussels found themselves upstaged by a bitter historical drama in Ireland that has caused heartache and misery for many before them. Careful diplomatic choreography that was intended to please audiences in both Dublin and Belfast left everyone flat on their faces.
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics...rely-misplaced

    The UK and the EU/RoI appeared to have reached a deal, where there would be "regulatory alignment" between NI and RoI, aleviating the need for border checks between the two. Some compromise seemed to have been reached...

    And then the DUP rejected it.

    The Democratic Unionist party (DUP):
    - Are hardline, "no surrender" unionists
    - Are socially conservative (against abortion and same-sex marriage, and not too convinced about evolution and climate change)
    - Have historical links to the terrorist UVF
    - Got 28% of the NI vote (<1% of the UK vote) in the last General Election

    But they are currently keeping the Tories in government. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, called the arrangement between the Tories and the DUP "a grubby deal".

    Sometimes satire is all you've got:
    http://waterfordwhispersnews.com/201...tells-cabinet/
    Last edited by autumnleaf; 12-05-2017 at 06:53 PM. Reason: spelling
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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Agreement has been made between EU/RoI and the UK, which allows "phase 2" of the talks to go ahead.

    What has been agreed?
    Guarantee that there will be "no hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that the "constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom" will be maintained.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42277040

    This does appear to suggest that the UK will stay in the Customs Union, so more of a "soft Brexit".
    https://taleswildatlantic.wordpress.com/
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  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Davy The First's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by autumnleaf View Post
    Agreement has been made between EU/RoI and the UK, which allows "phase 2" of the talks to go ahead.

    What has been agreed?
    Guarantee that there will be "no hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that the "constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom" will be maintained.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42277040

    This does appear to suggest that the UK will stay in the Customs Union, so more of a "soft Brexit".
    Any idea what the DUP's issue was earlier? I haven't been following this.

  14. #14
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    their hangup hasn't changed
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy The First View Post
    Any idea what the DUP's issue was earlier? I haven't been following this.
    The DUP were worried that NI was going to be treated differently to the rest of the UK, therefore moving closer to unity with Ireland. This wording seems to suggest that won't happen.

    As I understand it (this is a huge simplification, and I'm open to correction):
    - In order to keep a "soft border" you need some regulatory consistency between the two sides (so you don't need customs checks).
    - RoI needs to maintain certain EU regulations, as it intends to stay with the EU.
    - NI therefore needs to maintain certain EU regulations, if it is to avoid a hard border with RoI.
    - If the DUP are to be kept happy, NI needs to maintain the same regulations as the rest of the UK.
    - Therefore, the UK will end up being bound by some EU regulations, even while leaving the EU (Something similar to Norway?).
    https://taleswildatlantic.wordpress.com/
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  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    The "where do I start with this one?" award:
    "Ireland has been so disruptive to the British and… and… Britain has been so disruptive to the Irish. I mean you do have to put it in context – our policy has often been determined, thwarted, and just messed up by our relations with Ireland."
    Michael Portillo, British journalist and former MP
    https://taleswildatlantic.wordpress.com/
    I reject your reality and substitute my own
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  17. #17
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by autumnleaf View Post
    The "where do I start with this one?" award:
    "Ireland has been so disruptive to the British and… and… Britain has been so disruptive to the Irish. I mean you do have to put it in context – our policy has often been determined, thwarted, and just messed up by our relations with Ireland."
    Michael Portillo, British journalist and former MP
    lol, nothing like 900 years of regret. As a McCarthy I'd like to say, "Then you should've fecking kept yer hands t' yerself."

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Davy The First's Avatar
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    so, a have cake , eat cake solution?

    Nothing new there so. I'll take a peek when it's settled. (if)

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineA View Post
    lol, nothing like 900 years of regret. As a McCarthy I'd like to say, "Then you should've fecking kept yer hands t' yerself."
    I heard someone compare Britain leaving the EU with Ireland leaving the UK.

    I guess I missed the bit where the EU invaded Britain, suppressed its culture and economic development, set up laws to discriminate against the native population, exported food while the locals starved, and then when they tried to leave the union, sent in the troops to stop them.

    You'd think that would have made the news somehow.
    Last edited by autumnleaf; 12-11-2017 at 07:54 PM.
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  20. #20
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    also negates the fact that Ireland voted to remain in the EU because they weren't fucking plonkers like we apparently are *sigh*
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW stephenf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by autumnleaf View Post
    I heard someone compare Britain leaving the EU with Ireland leaving the UK.

    I guess I missed the bit where the EU invaded Britain, suppressed its culture and economic development, set up laws to discriminate against the native population, exported food while the locals starved, and then when they tried to leave the union, sent in the troops to stop them.

    You'd think that would have made the news somehow.
    I don't have any wish to defend the British empire . However.. It was the Normans that invaded Ireland and was run by feudal Lords until Henry VIII. The ruling class in Ireland , at the time ,where Catholics and started to form allegiances with Spain. England was at war with Spain. Henry could not risk a Spanish loyal state on his doorstep.
    Northern Ireland was created by William of Orange , a dutch King and the great famine was created by potato blight . It could be argued the English could of done more to help the Irish population . But the world was different then ,and to form judgments based on modern sensibility is to misunderstand history. It was the Irish nationalist that used the event as propaganda and distorted the events that actuly effected the whole of Europe at the time.
    Last edited by stephenf; 12-11-2017 at 10:44 PM.

  22. #22
    The new me oneblindmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post
    What an utter mess this is.

    "Strange Destinies" by Guillermo Rubio Arias-Paz, translated from the Spanish and out now on Amazon and the Endless Bookcase.

    Goodreads

  23. #23
    All about that action, boss. ElaineA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    I don't have any wish to defend the British empire . However.. It was the Normans that invaded Ireland and was run by feudal Lords until Henry VIII. The ruling class in Ireland , at the time ,where Catholics and started to form allegiances with Spain. England was at war with Spain. Henry could not risk a Spanish loyal state on his doorstep.
    Wait...wut? You mean the same Normans who held the crown of England? Henry VIII used the same excuse to run roughshod over Wales, too. Not that it made it any more OK, but at the very least they occupied the same island.

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    Northern Ireland was created by William of Orange , a dutch King
    ...who became King of England and then created NI to prevent the man some would say was the rightful heir (Catholic, James II) from getting an invasion foothold to attempt to get his crown back. William was already king of England when he sent the invasion fleet.

    Quote Originally Posted by stephenf View Post
    and the great famine was created by potato blight . It could be argued the English could of done more to help the Irish population . But the world was different then ,and to form judgments based on modern sensibility is to misunderstand history. It was the Irish nationalist that used the event as propaganda and distorted the events that actuly effected the whole of Europe at the time.
    The Irish nationalists didn't cause mass outward migration of the Irish, though. Yes, the crop failure led to starvation and outbound migration, but the English seemed fine about it. 700 years of Norman/English rule left the everyday folk of Ireland without lands, wealth, or power. When the crops fail, what are they to do? The families of 3 of 4 of my grandparents left Ireland at that time and I can guarantee they would rather have stayed home.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW autumnleaf's Avatar
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    William of Orange could not have created Northern Ireland, because he lived in the 17th century and NI didn't exist as a state until 1921 with the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The reason for the concentration of Protestants in the north-eastern part of the island was the Plantation of Ulster, started by James I (not William of Orange). When Ireland got its independence, some of the descendants of those settlers felt they didn't want to live in a Catholic-majority state, hence NI was created. It's possible, given demographic trends and the increasing secularization of both parts of Ireland, that a United Ireland will eventually happen, but I don't expect it just yet.

    The Great Famine had several causes. Blight caused the failure of the potato crop, but Ireland was still producing grain, dairy produce, livestock -- which was exported to Britain throughout the 1840s. Some British people showed great charity towards the starving Irish (notably members of the Society of Friends, who provided relief throughout the country often at risk of their own lives), but others like Charles Trevelyan took the view that it was "a punishment from God for an idle, ungrateful, and rebellious country". Irish nationalists exploited the tragedy, but they didn't create the resentment.

    Anyway, the point I was (perhaps clumsily) making was that it's a bit silly to compare:
    - Voluntarily leaving a union which you entered voluntarily and benefited from economically, where you had an equal say with the other members and could opt-out or veto a wide variety of issues, with
    - Fighting your way out of a union where you'd been kicked around for a few centuries.

    This is not to say the EU is perfect. It's in need of reform in many ways. And the UK has every right to leave -- I'd just feel better about it if they actually appeared to have a plan.
    https://taleswildatlantic.wordpress.com/
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  25. #25
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    the UK has a right to leave but it doesn't, IMO, have a good enough mandate to do so, nor does it (again imo) have the right to drag scotland and ireland out when they voted strongly for remain.
    Happiness, is just a word to me
    And it might have meant a thing or two
    If I'd known the difference.

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