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Brexit – No Hard Border and the Creation of Northern Ireland – History Tidbit

Brexit – No Hard Border and the Creation of Northern Ireland – History Tidbit

Yesterday morning (08 Dec 2017) it was agreed that there should not be a Hard Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. Nobody has a clue yet how to achieve that because it looks as if this either means that Northern Ireland has to partially leave the UK OR that the UK will NOT leave the Single Market and the EU Customs Union despite their eagerness to do so. Nevertheless, the declaration was made and everyone on either side celebrates it as a big achievement (Theresa May, the EU, Leo Varadkar and the DUP in NI) even if nothing is clear until further negotiations will take place.

And here is the curious aspect: This happened EXACTLY on the day (!!) 95 years after Northern Ireland came into existence. Northern Ireland declared on 08 Dec 1922 that they would opt out of being part of the Irish Free State (the precursor of the Irish Republic) and this created Northern Ireland as a self-standing political entity.

History is fascinating! 

Brexit: No hard border to Northern Ireland – Is that really possible?

Brexit: No hard border to Northern Ireland – Is that really possible?

For weeks this issue is in the media and it is/has been a big hurdle for the Brexit negotiations. No matter what some might WANT, Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the fact that it once was part of Ireland or the fact that it is located on the island of Ireland does not change that. Valid treaties are in place and unless they change Northern Ireland will remain to be a part of the UK. And if the whole UK leaves the EU, then this will also mean that Northern Ireland will leave the UK.

I am well aware that the population of Northern Ireland is divided on their allegiances and many would prefer a closer relationship or even a “re-unification” with Ireland, I am also aware that nobody would want to get back to the situation before the “Good Friday Agreement” from 1998, when terrorist organisations on both sides and highly questionable official forces made life hell for everybody.
But being from a border area elsewhere, I also am well aware that a border or even border controls is not the biggest problem in the world. Sure, we would all prefer a borderless world, but we have on one hand no problem causing a huge amount of in-humane problems to non-EU citizens who want to visit us in the EU, but on the other hand, many think that a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland would be the worst possible scenario.

I don’t agree that borders are a problem. When I grew up we regularly went to France, which was only 20 minutes away and it was never a big problem. Two countries, two set of laws and rules and a border made some sense. The EU states worked hard to break down the borders, but if one state decides to leave, I can’t see how it will work not to have borders again.

Nevertheless, it was announced on Friday that after long negotiations it was agreed that there will be NO hard borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So no border controls! But nobody seems to know yet how that will work in reality.

UK government said that they will ensure that there are no barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. So, there won’t be a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and there won’t be a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. BUT there might be completely different tax rules. Do you see the problem?

Have a look at the agreed document here. It says nothing and leaves a lot to Phase 2 negotiations and at the same time the agreement says a lot. Clause 49, for example, more or less implies that Northern Ireland might stay in the EU Customs Union and in the Single Market. And Clause 50 promises that there won’t be any barriers between Northern Ireland and the UK, but this is then probably only possible if the UK also stays in the EU Customs Union and the Single Market. :-O

Either that agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on OR the UK just has abandoned Brexit in large parts. Odd!!

Britain and Ireland are SEPARATE countries! Northern Ireland Border to return?

Britain and Ireland are SEPARATE countries! Northern Ireland Border to return?

It is just a few more days until Britain will declare its departure from the European Union. A totally nonsensical move in my eyes, but (happily!?) mislead by some populist politicians like Nigel Farage and too arrogant to consider that it could all end in a disaster, the British old people and (uneducated?) lower class is forcing Britain to take its hat in March 2019 and say Goodbye to the EU.

(In a pre-poll survey of the Independent, 21% of people below the age of 26 voted for Brexit compared with 69% of people over the age of 65. And 64% of graduates were planning to vote to remain compared with only 25% of people with no formal qualifications at all. Source:

Some people in Ireland think that without Britain in the EU, Ireland will be in trouble, others hate the EUR for a variety of reasons and others again don’t care much about the EU and the opportunities that it should provide to Irish businesses because they put (nearly) ALL their focus on selling their goods to Britain and ignoring the 25 other markets in the EU.

Nobody knows what the outcome will be. It will probably take another 10 years until we do know and by then, many of the people who caused Britain’s exit will not be around anymore. :-O

Apart from the economic impact, there is one question causing distress in Ireland and it is a surprising issue: It is the question about the border to Northern Ireland.

I am well aware of the historic circumstances, the 800+ years of occupation of Ireland, the Anglo-Irish Treaty from 1921 and the “Troubles”, which were a lot more than just “troubles”, but no matter what your political preferences are you have to accept that by international law, Northern Ireland is part of Britain and NOT part of Ireland. You might want to change that and that wish/goal/preference is absolutely legitimate, But any change needs to follow formal procedures until it becomes reality.

With that in mind, I can understand why people in Ireland don’t WANT to have a border again between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but I can’t see a single reason why there shouldn’t be a border once Britain leaves the European Union and as long as Northern Ireland remains part of Britain.

The fact that both countries are on the same land mass, is definitely not enough of a reason. The history? Not enough of a reason either!

The area I come from in Germany was for a while French, then German, then French again and it is German for a long time but only about 20 minutes by car from the French border. The same happened – in reverse – to the area close to the border in the French side. German, then French, then German and now French. The change in “ownership” always happened through occupation. Both parts were separated by a border until the European Union tore down borders through the Schengen Agreement. But if Germany or France left the European Union, it would be totally normal and understandable that a border with check points etc would be re-built.

Why should the situation be difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland?

Yes, I get it, some think that Northern Ireland SHOULD be or OUGHT to be part of Ireland, but that is as wrong as if you think your neighbours house SHOULD be yours. It will be yours once you agree to it OR the courts decide that your neighbour took the house from you illegally and has to give it back. But until that formal process is completed, it is owned by someone else.

Does the Irish Government know what “Brexit” means? – Irish 10 year plan in response to Brexit

Does the Irish Government know what “Brexit” means? – Irish 10 year plan in response to Brexit

On Wednesday (15 Feb) Newstalk reported that the Taoiseach will announce a 10 year plan in response to Brexit here. I expected to read about a plan that would talk about supporting the exploration of new markets for Irish companies selling currently into the UK; a plan for getting tourists from elsewhere to visit Ireland to make up for the short fall of tourists from the UK and a plan to deepen our relationships with the other EU countries (#WhoNeedsTheUKAnyway).

But I certainly didn’t expect to read about a plan that will “focus on areas such as investments in roads, public transport, and energy.” Something MAJOR went wrong here! One of us, either Enda Kenny or myself, has NO clue what “Brexit” means?!

My understanding is that “Brexit” means that once it happens, one of 27 countries, Britain, which is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, will leave the EU. That country won’t pay any more money into the EU, but will also not get any money from the EU anymore. All contracts that currently regulate relationships with other countries in the EU will stop being valid for the exiting country and everything has to be arranged new with this country. Ireland does a lot of business with Britain, so there will be some impact, but the ONLY area Brexit will impact Ireland is in matters that have to do with borders and markets as fas as we currently know.

How does have focus on “investments in roads, public transport (!!!!!) and energy” have anything to do with a Brexit? Enda Kenny is quoted saying “That new Plan will show how we will invest in roads, in public transport, in energy, in water, in schools, in higher education and in hospitals and health facilities. It will include detailed, funded plans to complete the national road network, including links between Dublin and Derry and Donegal, and to accelerate delivery of critical public transport infrastructure.

“It will include substantial investment in the ports and airports that Ireland will need as a successful, global trading nation. And it will support the achievement of our international climate change obligations and our national objectives for sustainable development and environmental protection.”

I accept that streets to Derry (in Northern Ireland) could be affected by a Brexit, but how does Brexit affect public transport? Or education? Or hospitals? Or national objectives (the clue is in the word, Mr Kenny!!) for sustainable development and environmental protection?

Has Endy Kenny lost it completely? NOTHING of that plan will prepare Ireland better for a Brexit than doing nothing. Now having such a plan is a VERY good idea for a country and it is surprising that this was not considered anyway, but needed a Brexit as a trigger. Is it a matter of “…we only look after our own country if another country leaves the EU”?

Very very odd!

Waking up to a different world! Brexit and democracy!

Waking up to a different world! Brexit and democracy!

“On Friday 24 June 2016 the world changed…” could be a line in history books of the future about what happened last night, After a very divisive and extremely negative campaign, the UK voted in a referendum against remaining in the EU and for leaving it. And this shook the world! I stayed up for a large part of the night because I was working on the “Dublin Event Guide” and I saw it happening. Tiny margins, swinging between Leave and Remain and Leave again and Remain again and then LEAVE.

I have to admit that I am shocked about the result! I am shocked about the narrowmindedness of the 17mio British people who voted “Leave”. I am shocked about the fact that the FEAR campaign and the campaign of intolerance, of arrogance, ignorance and superiority complex (“Make Great Britain great again”) won. I think – and there is no sitting on the fence for this one – it was a totally stupid and hugely damaging decision by the UK, but there is also another side.

First of all, democracy is good and democracy means that nonsensical decisions also have to be accepted. Like it or not, we have to live with it.

The other aspect is that Britain has always been a trouble maker in the EU. And now the unruly, obnoxious and difficult child on the play ground, just decided in a huff to walk away from the other kids that tried to find a way to play with each other on that play ground for a long time. Yes, the unruly kid took some toys away when he left, but on balance, I think the nice kids will still do better by getting rid of the trouble maker.

Scotland, and if in any way possible also Northern Ireland, might be back in the EU at some stage and if people in London could, they would also leave the UK,. Interesting scenario! The United Kingdom became the Divided Kingdom over night and the damage this referendum did to the British population will probably not be healed for decades.

What does it mean for Ireland? There could be a lot of good in that development for Ireland! American companies that want to open offices in the EU will NOT choose the UK anymore and companies that are already in the UK might relocate to Ireland.

The development is shocking, but let’s face it, we live in a time when we have relatively little upsets to deal with, so in that context it is HUGE. But if you compare it to the years when rebellions and wars happened, it is not the biggest problem. So we will deal with it and there is a good chance that we will look back in a few years and remember the great day when the obnoxious kid left and positive calmness and co-operation returned to the play ground.

Bye by, Divided Kingdom!

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