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Ireland and Brexit - the unanswerable question?

(50 Posts)
JessM Fri 28-Apr-17 20:32:47

Can anyone explain to me the solution to the new "Irish Question".
For many long years Irish nationals are allowed "free movement" with the UK. Irish citizens are allowed to come and live here. They are, to all intents and purposes, treated the same as UK citizens. The only exception is that they are not called to jury service.
The same applies in the other direction.
Since the Good Friday agreement the border between the North and the Republic has been open. People living near the border are very used to this now. The North is peaceful - albeit at times an uneasy peace.
Goods from the Republic and from N Ireland can be transported easily, by lorry and ferry, to the UK and to Europe. And vice versa of course. No customs barriers to slow them down at borders or ports. And very little in the way of passport control at the ports either.
There are treaties between the UK and the Republic that underpin this state of affairs.
One of the EU's chief concerns in the coming negotiations is Ireland. They need to protect the interests of this member state. They do not want to see it's trade and it's peace hampered.
So how is it possible to reconcile this state of affairs and the underpinning existing treaties with the PMs resolve to have a Hard Brexit?

Welshwife Fri 28-Apr-17 21:02:14

There are ferries from the South of Ireland to northern France so they could in theory take that route to the EU. I dare say Rosslare and Cherbourg may need expanding.

Azie09 Fri 28-Apr-17 23:39:34

Good question JessM and it's no wonder the Irish are really worried. The question of the border between the north and the Irish Republic is not a trivial matter and I fear the outcome is going to be sure. But then that's what happens when you try to turn the clock back without stopping to think that the world might have changed!

JessM Sat 29-Apr-17 07:15:15

It's one of the top three issues that the EU is mentioning as needing significant progress before any talk of a trade deal can commence.
The EU is going to stick up for Ireland. Of course they are. So they are not going to agree to anything that will be harmful to Ireland.
Some people are talking about a United Ireland - but that's not going to happen in a short negotiation. It could also trigger more trouble in the North.
Currently Northern Ireland is failing to actually form a devolved government and this is now on hold until after the election.

JessM Sat 29-Apr-17 07:22:27

And yes Whitewave freight could go by other ro/ro routes or by container ship. It is currently slightly cheaper to ship via Welsh ports. But only slightly.
If we left the customs union suddenly there would be massive congestion inside ports, which are currently designed for lorries and cars to just drive off the ferry and onto the roads without stopping. Also massive queues to get into the ports, where customs and passport procedures would have to happen.
However what happens to the freight is a relatively minor detail for the Irish - they are not going to agree to closing the land border. Why would they?

Ginny42 Sat 29-Apr-17 07:42:53

Your post puts into sharp perspective what I've been puzzling over since this whole Brexit issue emerged. I've seen more coverage of the Gibraltar situation with c 32,000 inhabitants, than the possible scenarios in Ireland. Has the Government published anywhere their thoughts on the situation?

I watch your thread with interest, but have no idea how this might play out.

GracesGranMK2 Sat 29-Apr-17 07:45:29

I don't understand the minutia of the problem but it looks to me as if leaving the EU could create a united Ireland where nothing else could.

suzied Sat 29-Apr-17 08:02:05

60% of Irish exports come to UK, mainly agricultural produce. Thie prospect of tariffs would be a huge headache on both sides. This all seems so unnecessary ( sigh).

Ginny42 Sat 29-Apr-17 08:12:35

Oh, how I agree suzied. This mess is so unnecessary. I can't imagine how it's all going to turn out, and the scary thing is I don't think anyone truly knows. We've been thrown into a very strange place indeed and turning the clock back pre the peace agreement is a very retrograde step in my view.

Will it lead to a united Ireland? Who on earth can predict what may happen? I sincerely hope there will be no return to the so called 'troubles'.

Azie09 Sat 29-Apr-17 09:52:39

The Irish are between a rock and a hard place. Being half Irish, I read the Irish Times and listen to Irish Radio (RTE), this issue is a major concern. The implications for the Irish economy are huge as they are for the UK. If there is no agreement and we revert to WTO rules we are looking at trade tariffs of 50%. Following through with this insane response to the 'will (apparent) of the British people' is national suicide.

nigglynellie Sat 29-Apr-17 11:03:47

Maybe a United Ireland would be for the best, dividing it was a suicidal idea in the first place, and caused nothing but trouble ever since, and it would be one less headache for Westminster. However I can't see Ulster capitulating without a fight opening up a load more trouble whatever a referendum brings. Also I think this rhetoric coming from the EU illustrates how very little they know, still less understand Ulster history, why it was divided in the first place and the very strong/murderous feelings entertained on both sides of the divide. The unionists of NI simply won't like Greece, be ground down by Brussels and HAVE to do as they're told by Junker and his pals! It just won't happen, not in NI.

nigglynellie Sat 29-Apr-17 11:14:09

Democracy is fine when it works for you, but not when it doesn't! Like free speech, which for some is fine when people agree with them, but curiously not when they don't! Patriotism is fine(just!) Nationalism is not, unless of course you're the SNP, then again, curiously, it's OK!!! If you believe in true democracy you have to be prepared to accept what you don't like as well as what you do. If you really can't do that, then referendums, with the additional promise in Parliament to honour the result, is a very dodgy road to go down!

daphnedill Sat 29-Apr-17 11:21:29

My understanding is that the EU hasn't told Ireland to reunite. However, if that's what happens, Northern Ireland would automatically be accepted into the EU, as the former East Germany was.

How would you solve the Northern Ireland issue nigglynellie?

nigglynellie Sat 29-Apr-17 12:49:31

It's up to the people of NI to decide that. If they want a referendum and decide that reunification is the way to go then so be it, problem solved, relief all round, BUT, I can't see the Orangemen going down without a fight, so not problem solved! What would anyone do about NI? Governments for decades have wrestled with that and failed to find the answer so I doubt the EU can!

JessM Sat 29-Apr-17 13:54:22

This is what it says in the EU principles for negotiating the UK leaving. Agreed today.
The Union has consistently supported the goal of peace and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, and continuing to support and protect the achievements, benefits and commitments of the Peace Process will remain of paramount importance. In view of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, flexible and imaginative solutions will be required, including with the aim of avoiding a hard border, while respecting the integrity of the Union legal order. In this context, the Union should also recognise existing bilateral agreements and arrangements between the United Kingdom and Ireland which are compatible with EU law.

daphnedill Sat 29-Apr-17 14:26:41

I haven't a clue what to do about Northern Ireland. Being in the EU enabled something like a solution. The issue was raised before the referendum, but it was dismissed as part of Project Fear and I don't even think registered in the minds of most of the non-Irish British population.

I just have such a horrible feeling it's going to end up in tears. There can't be a hard border of people between the Republic and Northern Ireland, unless the agreement from the 1920s is ripped up.

It's an absolute mess and I agree with you, niggly, the Orangemen won't unite with the Republic without a fight - that's what's worrying me. It's bad enough having to look out for IS, I don't want Irish bombings as well.

nigglynellie Sat 29-Apr-17 15:03:19

Oh God no, nobody wants to even contemplate re igniting the troubles, but like you dd, I have a sinking feeling that unless this is VERY carefully handled it could end in a load of trouble. Fact is, even in relatively peaceful periods, NI from day 1 has always simmered under the surface, and although it is more peaceful now than its probably ever been, it's still only held together by a wing and a prayer, (Stormont tells us that!!) and that under the surface, old hostilities are still there, and it wouldn't take much for them to rear up again, pretext or otherwise!!

rosesarered Sat 29-Apr-17 15:06:59

We have heard over and over that there won't be a hard border ever again so that shouldn't happen.Surely it's not rocket science to sort out the rest of it.

suzied Sat 29-Apr-17 15:22:30

rosearered If its not rocket science- maybe you have a suggestion? The reason so many people are worried about it, is that there isn't a simple solution. You have to please so many with completely opposing views. Getting it wrong could have terrible repercussions.

nigglynellie Sat 29-Apr-17 15:26:17

Well, exactly roses! so why all this kicking off about it from the EU when both sides want the same thing?!! Concern for Eire? or perhaps a little mischief making by the EU, feeding uncertainty, hoping to encourage the break up yet more of the UK?!

rosesarered Sat 29-Apr-17 15:26:39

Luckily, the answers are not in any GN hands suzied
What I am saying is it will take much working out but should not be beyond the Government and all the great 'brains' who assist them.

Anya Sat 29-Apr-17 15:47:28

Read the link in the thread started by JessM and I think thr 'unanswerable question' (!!) has been addressed and possibly answered.

suzied Sat 29-Apr-17 18:24:14

Of course we can just blame the EU if it all goes t*ts up. It can't be the UK government's fault wanting to change the rules, have their cake and eat it, pander to the right wing etc etc

daphnedill Sat 29-Apr-17 18:36:54

I thought the populist jury had decided that the "elites" don't know what they're doing! hmm

Which thread Anya? I'm a bit lost.

daphnedill Sat 29-Apr-17 18:42:33

I don't agree with you niggly about mischief making. The Republic is a member of the EU and Brexit is going to cause a number of repercussions, which it doesn't want. The EU is of course on the side of one of its members. That's why it's such a powerful union and we're about to find out what it's like being outside it.

I just don't see a solution, which will please anybody never mind everybody. It's not just a political issue, but a trade one. The island of Ireland has benefited hugely from being in a single market.