How Brexit could create a crisis at the Irish border


As part of the European Union, the United
Kingdom’s borders have been relatively open for years. Trade’s carried out freely with other member
countries and people coming through only need to show their EU passport. But in June 2016, the UK voted to leave the
EU so that it could reassert control on its own borders – and decide who and what it wanted
to let through. Imagine these boundaries turning into hard
borders. The impact of that on these maritime borders
is complicated in terms of trade, but it could have serious implications for
the people living along the UK’s only overland border — here. This border, between Northern Ireland and
the Republic of Ireland, is one of the reasons why Brexit negotiations continue to reach
a deadlock. That’s because this isn’t just a boundary
between two countries… It’s also a compromise. A symbol of identity. A solution to a troubled history. And it’s been keeping the peace in Northern
Ireland for 20 years. Hardening this border could put one of Europe’s
greatest success stories in jeopardy. This border was first drawn in 1920 by the British, who had ruled over the island for
centuries. The Irish had rebelled several times, but not everyone wanted the British to leave. So, eventually the UK divided the island into
two states based on its population. Most people in this part were historically
Catholic, and identified as Irish, and wanted independence. They were known as Nationalists. But in the North, many people were
Protestant, identified more closely as British and wanted to stay in the UK. They were called Unionists. After the partition, this part remained in
the UK as Northern Ireland. We made that decision as a people quite freely, and for very definite reasons. Reasons that are historical, reasons that are cultural, and reasons that are economic. The south continued to move away from
the UK until it gained complete independence and became a new country — the Republic of
Ireland. At first, this 499 kilometer border was pretty
porous. But the UK and Ireland continued to be hostile. Over time, customs checks were set up at the border
crossings and the two countries descended into a trade war – tariffs were placed on agricultural
produce and goods like steel and coal. By the late 1960s, things turned violent. Violence like this hit Northern Ireland after years of simmering bitterness between the Catholic minority and the ruling Protestant regime. In Northern Ireland, fierce conflict broke
out between extremist groups. Nationalist paramilitaries, like the Irish
Republican Army, believed that Northern Ireland was rightfully part of Ireland and that the
British were oppressors of Northern Ireland’s Nationalist population. Unionist paramilitaries fought back; defending
their place in the UK. Both groups blew up buildings, set off car
bombs, and engaged in bloody street fighting. The UK deployed thousands of troops to Northern
Ireland during this time; and became a common target of Nationalist paramilitary attacks. Especially at the border, which for Nationalists
was the ultimate symbol of British occupation. “Welsh fuseliers who patrol this stretch of the border described in court as the main battle line between the IRA and the army, have suffered repeated attacks.” As violence surged, the UK military tried
to secure the border with walls, towers, heavy guns, and patrols. They tightly controlled the 20 official crossings and screened people and vehicles passing through. The conflict over Northern Ireland turned
this into a hard border. The violence lasted for more than 30 years,
killed over 3,600 people and came to be known as The Troubles. It came to end in 1998, when Nationalist
and Unionist Party leaders came together for a historic peace deal. They reached a compromise: Northern Ireland
would remain in the UK but people would be eligible for both Irish and UK citizenships. And in the future, Northern Ireland could
vote to join Ireland. This deal came to be known as the Good Friday
Agreement. It allowed Nationalists in Northern Ireland
to be part of the Republic of Ireland while the Unionists remained part of the UK. Which meant this hard border wasn’t needed
anymore. So, the British military left. The watchtowers came down. And more roads opened. There are now around 270 official crossings
– most of which are completely invisible. And they’re all part of a border that stands
as a symbol of the compromise that ended decades of conflict. “The British people have voted to leave the European Union.” “Reignited a fierce debate over Northern Ireland’s future.” “Because both are members of the European Union. But when Britain pulls out of the EU,” “it’s now an outer-EU border and the question is, do we put up barbed wire again? Soldiers? There’ll be a custom borders at the very least.” In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU, even
though Northern Ireland was overwhelmingly in favor of remaining. The UK’s argument in favor of Brexit was
to control its own national borders — but there was little mention of its Irish border
at the time. That changed when the UK and EU started negotiations
— the status of the Irish border became one of the first three things to figure out. Now, more than a year later, it’s still
unresolved. But there are a few options:
The UK could reimpose a hard border by bringing back the police and the walls. But that would isolate the population of Nationalists
in Northern Ireland. Alternatively, they could put the border here,
leaving Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union, but separating it from the UK mainland. But this would betray the Unionists. See, either way, both these options risk
violating the Good Friday Agreement. A third option is for the UK to stay in the
EU Customs Union meaning it wouldn’t need a customs border, but that’s unacceptable
for Brexiters in the UK government, who specifically want control over their own borders. The UK needs to put a border somewhere but
just can’t decide where. “On relation to the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, we will not return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland”. “But the suggestion that there should be a border down the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom is completely unacceptable.” “We are not going to
be in a customs union, we’re not going to be in the Customs Union, because if we were, that would prevent us from being able to follow an independent trade policy.” Now, there’s a fourth option that would be in
line with the Good Friday Agreement — it’s the idea of reunification. In the past when both Ireland and the UK were
in the EU and the borders were open; there was little incentive for Northern Ireland
to vote to reunite with the Republic of Ireland. But if the UK went with the option of hard
borders, Northern Ireland would be isolated and the only way to rejoin the EU would be
through reunification. Typically, this would be an overwhelming victory
for the Nationalists and a loss for the Unionists. But Brexit seems to have changed some opinions. A recent poll found that 28% of the respondents
who supported Northern Ireland’s place in the UK would now vote to join the Republic
of Ireland. While not a perfect solution, it would give
Northern Ireland a voice about its own place in Europe; a voice that’s barely been heard
so far.

100 thoughts on “How Brexit could create a crisis at the Irish border”

  1. The graphic at 4.52 is very representative of Unionist vs Nationalist areas.
    In 1920 only 2 counties were majority Protestant, 2 were 50/50, the other 2 were majority RC. But the UK knew that 3 counties wasn't economically viable. Hence the Apartheid state that was mid 20th century Northern Ireland.

  2. Ireland have allowed everyone else is Britain and the eu take a stance why didn't they rip eu apart for the same way we do it . they need to rise up more to the EU.

  3. Vox, great job as usual with explaining the history and presenting the visuals. Really good material, easily understood and well presented. A+

  4. Oh man, reunification would be so great – that would be the end of 500 years of colonialism for the Irish once and for all.
    The Scotland could follow and the Brits will finally get their nationalist wish of a united England.

  5. Strange that there is no mention of the Common Travel Area. The EU does not set immigration policy for the ROI and recognises the legitimacy of the CTA. So people and private vehicles will always be able to travel between ROI and NI (and vice versa). The EU will need to protect the Single Market, but this can be done by customs declarations away from the border. Computer and GPS to track consignments and spot checks on commercial vehicle that can be pulled over without stopping private vehicles. This system already works in Sweden/Norway where both countries are in Schengen. As Northern Ireland and the Republic are not members of Schengen passports would have to be checked if the CTA didn't exist.

  6. Hey Vox! What about not making videos about European topics? You said many things wrong. Just at the begging: within the European Union, people don’t have to show their “EU passport” when going thru borders. In fact in 90% of EU countries you don’t have to show anything at all, just like traveling thru states in USA. Just like in the video about Poland, you’re just not the best at making videos about Europe. Don’t get me wrong. the film briefly explains the UK-Ireland relationship. But you know…

  7. Things look to have settled in Ireland this is how it must stay I see no reason for troops or barbed wire just carry on with the goodwill on both sides this is scare mongery not everyone in England voted to leave but you cant always get the result that you want northern Irelands future is solid I'm sure

  8. What's the main risk leaving the border policy as it is now? Irish people just walk into the UK? So what. Or trucks entering the UK without paying customs duties? Looks like a minor problem for me, also there's the possibility of what we call "deep check" I don't know the English name but means border police can stop vehicles and carry out ad-hoc checks further from the border.

  9. There is another solution. The UK dissolves making England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland separate countries

  10. Heh, and my cooworker who is English claims "its good that they leaving Europe becouse sending goods abroad will be cheaper now" First he confuse Europe with European Union and after says something absolutely abstracional

  11. If consider how many times UK have gone to war with mainland Europe, it is a appropriate they leave. How many European Powers failed to take the Island nation. It's like they're from another continent. History has inclined them to not be truly European. They are the Japanese of East Asia.. I say all the major English speaking countries combine to create their own economic union, from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, n add Mexico, Japan n South Africa. Your have a major Economic zone to be recon with. I say Japan because they have some technical know hows that the other countries are lacking. South Africa because they in strategic zone plus they don't actually get along with the other African nations so it may be a good fit. U have Mexico, because it will finally stop the debate about a wall or not, plus it's not really feasible or cost effective to have such a wall.. It's much simple to have a boarder below Mexico.

  12. divide and conquer used to be the UK's policy towards other countries and now facing the same problem it created for many other countries

  13. We need to create our own option and maybe through circumstance like that of a trade war the option will become self evident.

  14. Actually the way things are headed England could have another firm Border with Scotland. They didn't want Brexit either. Bet Scotland wished they had voted for independence when they had the chance. They might want to resurrect that option!

  15. A couple of things, one the border issue isn't that big of a deal, other than symbolically. The EU has plenty of borders that don't require fences and armed patrols. Republicans will use it as an excuse to advocate "reunification", maybe even committ a few terrorist attacks, but it's not the crisis you're implying. And on the point of reunification, the only time Ireland was united was under British rule, previous to that Ireland was divided into 4 states, and at no point was Ulster ruled by Dublin. And if it was such a crisis, there is a 5th and more likely option, NI independence. This in itself is a compromise, with NI being ruled neither from Dublin nor London perhaps the people can put aside differences and create their own new shared identity.

  16. The obvious option is that Ireland sees reason and votes to leave the EU. It's true that before they joined they were a basketcase. EU subsidies have helped lift them into one of the richest countries in Europe. But 90% of their trade is with the UK. So any kind of border will harm Ireland far more than Britain.

    There is no obvious reason for Ireland to stay in the EU. It's true they have favourable tax rates, but other EU members have the same. And the EU is trying to bankrupt them and the tech companies based there.

    The UK and Ireland are so heavily linked it's clear Brexit will move Ireland further away from mainland Europe. Time to break free!

  17. Here's a mad idea,give the north back to its rightful owners, no need for a backstop or a hard border, simples 🤷‍♂️

  18. They have tried putting British troops and Ireland beforethey are welcome to try again but let's face it we all know what will happen

  19. Irish and British are completely different people and different countries. The British should not be in Ireland. Imagine if Ireland controlled six English counties, do people really think there wouldn't be any trouble?

  20. Its ah load of hellish nonsence, orange province green province red province blue province and white province when tara ruled. Most irish born people are flunced with english books and when they emigrate they usually go to england canada australia america , sure the irish are found in many countries but most of them prefer the languages they are versed with. Also it is sed, the furthest one can get away from the sea in ireland is 70 miles, find one man who owns it all and he can keep it,,,all the best😈 it might also be ah question of one big british military barracks in ulsters orange province helping to ward off nepolion and his ships or european policemen all over the effin place 32 and not one of them drenched in Gwaelgah

  21. i find it funny when the irish say we invaded them when they invaded britain first and do you really think the british army will loses after more than 20 years doing anti terrorism in the middle east

  22. The question is would Ireland really take N.Ireland back in the situation it is in. It would have to cover the huge amount of the population which lives off benefits and a health care budget, which at the moment is free which is the NHS. England taxpayers subsidise a lot for places like N.Ireland. This would be a huge burden for a country like Ireland.

  23. Wow. VOX demonstrating again how little they know about history. But it does not stop them from having an opinion.

  24. The British politics of dividing India killed millions of people….. They shouldn't have played divide and rule politics… India would have strongest with India and Pakistan together….

  25. What the European union do with their border is no concern of us Northern Irish. Let them build a wall for all we care, it will be them creating a hard border not the British.

  26. Those who love the Queen that much, ought to pack their stuff, and move over to England! Surely, they shall be welcome, in England! To be honest Northern Ireland are like Guantanamo bay on Cuba — a true humiliation, for the original population!

  27. All Men are born equal, if only we were united under 1 government there wouldn’t be so many restraints to our future. The definition of countries is that it will lead to wars. This video is the proof of it.

  28. You don’t mention the 5th option which both NI & ROI customs people have said is not a problem. Computer based customs is possible

  29. The UK is free to keep an open border, if it wants one, thus upholding it's end of the Belfast agreement. The republic on the other hand; it's masters in Brussels will not let them.
    This is an RoI/EU problem not a UK one.

    Also, option 5 is clearly the best all round, the republic can leave the EU.

  30. The hardest part ARE the borders. Plural requires "are", singular requires "is" EG …

    "This toy is Jills" Vs "these toys are Jill's"

  31. A simple solution… independent Ireland…no border problems and no potential IRA rising again!…no doubt this is very controversial but as I understand it the Protestants in northern Ireland have enjoyed the peace why risk troubles again?

  32. Ireland not going build a border Niether is the UK let's see if the famed EU army can hold a border the British army could not

  33. This is at best woefully misinformed and at worst completely irresponsible journalism. The majority of the people in the north wanted to remain part of the UK? It is the equivalent of my friends and I breaking into your house and killing members of your family but when the police (also my friends) show up, you are made to live in the shed because there are more of us in the house than your family. It is shameful how this is being passed of as an accurate representation of what happened. Read a book and learn about the plantation. Sickening and typically ignorant though I doubt any English would notice.

  34. the UK government has said we don't what a border, so have the Irish government. and even the EU don't what it. so who's going to put it up? the only sticking point with brexit is a trade agreement with some common scene from Brussel's. stop trying to punish the UK for leaving your bent club. the EU are the ones running project fear by making sure no one else leaves.

  35. Or the 5th option would be if England invades Republic of Ireland and call it a day. Now that mcgregor is beaten they have no one to defend them.

  36. Everyone is just seeing this one way. In my view, if this is a major problem, Ireland will have to leave the European Union as well, so that they do not break the GFA.

  37. IRA IRA IRA IRA IRA IRA DOWN WITH THE MONARCHY REVOLUTION NEW GOVERNMENT 🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪

  38. Moral of the story : dont let the uk leave your country if colonized by them . If they leave they will divide u
    You and leave

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