The Republic has hit back on the lack of clarity around border proposals. If the UK doesn't change its negotiating strategy, it won't be the last shock it getsby Siobhan Fenton / July 31, 2017 / Leave a comment
In rural Northern Ireland, miles of farmland stretch around the border with the Republic of Ireland. Normally an unremarkable area, inflected with small hillocks, smatterings of grazing cattle and the odd country road, the quiet land has been thrust into the spotlight in the last year as a key battleground in Brexit talks.
In the thirteen months since the fateful June referendum result, the UK government has insisted that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can remain unchanged, despite it becoming the UK’s new frontier with the EU. Indeed, the matter has been earmarked by Britain as one of its top three priorities for Brexit. Now, however, such hopes—or, perhaps more accurately, such hubris—has been dashed.
The Times reports that the Irish government has told the UK delegation in Brussels that they have rejected Britain’s calls for the border to remain as it is, after the latter failed to advance a credible or compelling case for it. Ireland is said to be insisting that it will accept no border on the island of Ireland and instead suggesting that the UK makes the border the Irish Sea.
The UK’s border with the EU was always going to be controversial, but the fact that it lies in Northern Ireland has only added to tensions due to the region’s unsettled constitutional status and post-conflict society.
The UK had previously suggested that a seamless or invisible border could exist between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, insisting a high-tech and modern approach could see all cars electronically tagged as they pass the border by scanning their registration plates.
However, the Irish government has now reportedly rejected this outright, telling Theresa May’s delegation that the plan is “doomed and could jeopardize the peace process.”
Such a move could mean that people travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would be treated the same as those travelling between the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain. This could include passports checks, or other documentation.
A policy of this kind would effectively distance Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK and mesh it further with its neighbours in the Republic of Ireland. This would inevitably cause anxiety Northern Ireland’s unionist and loyalist communities who consider themselves British and would…