Tag Archives: border

Ireland and Britain reach border deal

UPDATE 2:

Ireland, Britain and the European Union announced agreement (8 December) to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the deal “had “achieved all that we set out to achieve” in this phase of the Brexit negotiations.

Read the full text of the agreement.

UPDATE 1:

The border deal has collapsed, at least for today (4 December), due to DUP objections.

Here’s a good explanation and background story from The Washington Post.

ORIGINAL POST:

Ireland and Britain have reached a deal to prevent the return of a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, according to The Irish Times and other media outlets.

Negotiators have agreed on the term “regulatory alignment” to describe customs rules and trade practices between the north and south of Ireland, rather than a formal commitment to “no divergence” originally sought by Ireland.

The reported deal comes weeks ahead of more wide-ranging Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union (of which the Republic remains a member) later this month.

Some early press reports portray the agreement as a concession to Ireland by Britain, which has angered the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP could block the deal “given Theresa May’s dependence on the party for a working majority in the Commons.”

I’ll update this post as more details emerge.

E.U. would welcome the North in United Ireland

Northern Ireland will automatically join the European Union if voters on both sides of the 1921 partition agree to the island’s political reunification.

Leaders of 27 E.U. states agreed the decision at a 29 April Brussels summit called to prepare for the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc. Last June, U.K. voters approved Britain’s exit, or Brexit, by 52 percent to 48 percent. Nearly 56 percent of voters in Northern Ireland, however, supported remaining in the E.U.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny urged E.U. leaders for the commitment to welcome the six counties of the north. The approved statement is now being called the Kenny text:

The European Council acknowledges that the Good Friday Agreement expressly provides for an agreed mechanism whereby a united Ireland may be brought about through peaceful and democratic means.

In this regard, the European Council acknowledges that, in accordance with international law, the entire territory of such a united Ireland would thus be part of the European Union.

A vote on Irish reunification is not scheduled at this time, and it appears unlikely to happen anytime soon. “In my view, the conditions do not exist now for a Border poll,” Kenny said after the E.U. statement.

Kenny

The more immediate concern is resolving what happens with the border between Northern Ireland, as part of the departing U.K., and E.U.-member Republic of Ireland.

The border has been nearly seamless since the late 1990s, when military check points began to disappear with the easing of sectarian violence in the North. The biggest difference between the two countries is the change of currency, since the U.K. never adopted the Euro. On the Dublin to Belfast train last summer, I also noticed the automatic change of data carriers on my mobile device.

The is just one part of even thornier Irish-British trade issues.

Stormont deadline extended until June 29

In a related development this week, the U.K. parliament extended the deadline to form a new power-sharing executive in the Northern Ireland Assembly until June 29. Unionist and nationalist leaders have been unable to reach an accord since the 2 March election, in which the pro-reunification Sinn Féin party made dramatic gains in the assembly.

Since then, British PM Theresa May called for a 8 June snap election in the U.K. to bolster support for the Brexit negotiations. The election, which includes Northern Ireland, provided a handy and logical rational to delay the formation of the assembly executive.

Confused? This BBC Q & A should help.

Ireland, Northern Ireland brace for possible Brexit

British voters will decide 23 June whether to remain in the European Union. If they opt for the so-called “Brexit,” the decision is likely to have significant impacts on Ireland and Northern Ireland, including the peace process, trade and other cross-border activity.

Here’s a sample of reporting in advance of the referendum. I’ll probably add a few more links before the vote, so email subscribers should check back for updates. Referendum results will be covered in a separate post.

Read fact-check reporting on Ireland-Northern Ireland border issues from FactCheckNIThe Journal.ie and FullFact.org.

northern-ireland-border-facebook.jpg (1200×630)

How Brexit could lead to a united Ireland – and wage cuts for thousands
From RT

Sinn Féin leaders have already signaled that if Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU, the party will call for a vote on reunification with the 26 counties, as is their right under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Brexit could unravel Northern Ireland peace process
From Deutsche Welle (Germany)

[F]ears of border chaos may not be as far-fetched as they first appear. Even during the Troubles, people could move with relative ease between both jurisdictions due to an informal arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA). But a recent report by MPs on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said that in the event of Brexit, the future of the CTA “would be put into question.” Irish Premier Enda Kenny recently raised the prospect of border controls being reimposed if Britain left the EU. Former UK prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair recently warned that Brexit could undermine the Northern Irish peace process and reopen the question of a united Ireland.

Brexit to prompt major cut in Irish growth forecasts, warns ESRI
From The Irish Times

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned that its growth forecasts for the Irish economy will be downgraded significantly if the UK votes to leave the EU. The institute said uncertainty ahead of … [the] vote had already damaged Ireland’s trade position with several headline indicators pointing to a slide in export-related activity.

Central plank of Irish foreign policy imperilled by EU plebiscite
NewsLetter (Northern Ireland)

Although a Brexit would raise questions about the future of the UK … the most dramatic immediate political tremor will be felt in Dublin. A British exit from the EU would demolish a central plank of the Republic’s foreign policy towards Northern Ireland and would also push northern nationalism towards a strategic rethink. … [A] UK exit from the EU would push Dublin towards also leaving the EU within a relatively short timeframe.