Britain Seeks To Control Ireland’s Borders In Deal For No Brexit Barrier Around North

On Saturday afternoon up to a thousand people attended the first in a series of demonstrations in the north of Ireland to protest the possible effects of the United Kingdom’s intention to decouple itself from the European Union, a process which may lead to the imposition of a “Brexit border” between the UK-administrated Six Counties and the rest of the island. Rallies were held in Bridgend (between the counties of Donegal and Derry), Lifford Bridge (between Donegal and Tyrone), Belcoo and Aghalane (Fermangh and Cavan), Moybridge (Tyrone and Monaghan), and Carrickcarnon (Louth and Armagh). Organised by a new lobby group, Border Communities Against Brexit, local politicians and business leaders expressed profound opposition to the rolling back of the “soft reunification” witnessed in the country since the culmination of the Irish-British peace negotiations of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Activists temporarily erected a mock UK customs’ post at Carrickcarnon, reminiscent of the lightly defended installations sited along the “border” from the 1920s to 1960s. These were replaced in the early years of the 1966-2005 Long War with a chain of heavily fortified checkpoints and bases manned by British troops and counter-insurgency police enforcing Britain’s continued occupation of the north-east. Their eventual removal between 1994 and 2007 was one of the key criteria for the process of demilitarisation agreed between the representatives of the UK and the Irish republican movement. By 1997 over one hundred “unapproved” cross-border routes had been reopened by local communities with no interference from the British authorities. In previous years such actions would have led to large-scale military operations and sustained clashes between residents and the UK Forces.

In a desperate attempt to stave off the potential for renewed conflict in the Six Counties the British government seems to be floating the suggestion that Ireland’s international borders could become a de facto boundary of the United Kingdom, at least as far as immigration control is concerned. The Guardian has more:

“Britain is seeking to shift the frontline of immigration controls to Ireland’s ports and airports to avoid having to introduce a “hard border” between north and south after the UK leaves the European Union, the Guardian has learned.

The Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, has told the Guardian that London and Dublin will work to strengthen Ireland’s external borders in order to combat illegal migration into the UK once it leaves the European Union.

After Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June, concern mounted that to control immigration, measures would have to be imposed on the 300-mile border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Any such border controls would probably be seen as a violation of the Good Friday agreement and a provocation in a region that has only relatively recently put violence behind it.

The Fine Gael-led coalition government in Dublin has confirmed it is in negotiations with London to better share intelligence to tighten immigration controls for people from outside Britain and Ireland.

Ireland’s foreign minister, Charles Flanagan, said he welcomed Brokenshire’s commitment to an invisible north-south border and agreed on the importance of an intelligence-led approach to curbing illegal immigration across the Irish border.

Brokenshire said that Brexit would neither destabilise the power-sharing institutions set up under the Good Friday agreement nor provide any propaganda boost for hardline dissident republicans opposed to devolution in Belfast.”

If the chauvinistic Tory government in London believes that a soft annexation of Ireland’s border controls will be met with equanimity or acceptance by the Irish people as whole, let alone the so-called “Dissidents“, then they are operating on a Trumpian level of self-delusion. Why on earth would this island nation dilute its sovereignty and standing in the world by associating itself with the United Kingdom’s xenophobic immigration policies? And what is the alternative if we do not agree to this fanciful imposition? A mild and implied version of the “…terrible and immediate war“, as expressed to the Irish treaty negotiators in December of 1921?

As other observers have pointed out, the logical border between the island nations of Ireland and Britain, between a member state of the EU and a non-member state, lies in the latter’s sea and airports. The Irish Sea is the boundary between both countries, not an imaginary line drawn around the anachronistic remainder of Greater England’s colonial misadventures in this country. If Britain truly wishes to abandon the European Union, then by all means go ahead. But it will not be taking Ireland or any part of Ireland with it.

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26 comments

  1. Ag casadh siar an clog? Conradh 1921: Nuair a géilleadh “permanent control of bases at Cobh, Berehaven, and Lough Swilley, along with the right to such harbour and other facilities as they desired in time of war or of strained relations with a foreign power.”

    Ansin i 1938: “The British abandoned their treaty rights (to ports) and agreed to a lump sum Irish payment of £10m in place of previous claims for over £100m.” Conradh a cháin Winston S Churchill mar: “A more feckless act can hardly be imagined!”

    An lead bocht!

    Ach bhfuil Enda agus lucht Fine Gael le “feckless act” eile a dhéanamh le Theresa May & a cara Brokenshire.

  2. We already allow US passport control Dublin and Shannon. Thing is, America is a world super-power and UK a third world de facto police state. Never underestimate the craven attitude of Templemore to acquiesence.

    1. The difference is that the US passport control in Ireland allows more convenient travelling to the USA, because on their end all flights from Dublin and Shannon are treated like domestic flights.

      And when I arrive to Ireland I don’t have to go through the US border control just to make sure that I don’t illegally enter the USA through Ireland.
      But the Brits apparently want to do exactly that.

  3. Holy shit! What is this but a reestablishment of foreign (British) rule in the free part of Ireland?

    Thank you for speaking the truth, Séamas. Only one question: do you mind if I reblog this?

  4. More likely the UK will simply declare the whole of Ireland a ¨foreign place¨ and establish checks at the Irish Sea ports. Indeed don´t such checks happen anyway on a random basis? From London´s viewpoint NI is just another bit of former Empire that´s slowly slipping away. Anyway without EU funding it will quickly go to the dogs. Perhaps they´ll be begging for unification just to get back on to the EU teat?

    1. Do you think that those flag waving and bonfire burning idiots in NI would agree to show their passports at Belfast Airport when flying to London?

    2. You’ll hear no objection from me if that happens. The logical and – realpolitik – place for the immigration and customs checks is the island of Britain, not the island of Ireland. Anything else is playing with fire.

  5. Reblogged this on lordofmirkwood and commented:
    More insightful commentary from An Sionnach Fionn, the great Irish republican blog. The UK government intends to use Irish airports and seaports for its own border controls: that is, they intend to apply their laws to another sovereign nation. The political classes in “Official Ireland” seem to be rolling over to accept this.

    Back in June, when the Brexit vote was about to happen, I said I was actually kind of hoping the despicable racist right-wingers in the UK would win. And the reason I wanted that to happen was so that a confrontation like this could occur, between the Irish people and the aforementioned despicable, racist right-wingers, to wake Ireland up. It looks like for the time being, barring a surprise election that puts Corbyn into Downing Street, Britain is going in a racist, rightist, and xenophobic direction. The nation and people of Ireland must not be strong-armed into compliance with Nazis.

  6. FG will cave at the strong armed tactics, not just cos they are corrupt but spineless visionless negotiators to jackboot.

  7. What’s the problem here? This seems like a good compromise. The alternative is to reinstate a hard border.

    Did you really expect the UK to just withdraw to the island of Britain and abandon their citizens and sovereign territory in Northern Ireland?

    1. How about no border?
      If Britain did withdraw it would be the first time in history they recognised and respected the right of the majority of Irish people to unity and independence.

      1. I don´t see how selling the Unionists in NI down the river is any different to the way the White Rhodesians were ditched when they became too much of an embarrassment. NI is much closer to home, but the Empire is a mere shadow of its former self. Expediency is everything to the politicians in London, you can´t really accuse them of having principles can you?

    2. Sure why not – they have already pulled out of almost all their colonies and lost a huge amount of land. NI is nothing by comparison.

    3. They’ve already partially ceded or compromised the UK’s citizenship rights and sovereignty over the north-east of Ireland through the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Good Friday Agreement and so on. All eligible persons born in the Six Counties are recognised under Irish and British law as citizens of Ireland and by extension the EU (and will continue to be recognised as such post the triggering of Article 50). That the UK also claims their nationality is irrelevant for the purposes of Brexit and the GFA. The UK cannot strip the people of the north-east of their automatic Irish and EU citizenship without tearing up the GFA.

      “It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland.”

      No such provisions exist in UK law which merely recognises the right of all those in the Six Counties to choose their nationality as Irish or British, defaulting to UK nationality unless otherwise stated.

  8. I have a kind of grim pleasure at these events. Either the “Common travel area” has to go, or the UK border has to be moved to the frontiers of Ireland. Choose one. Also, as part of a “Harsh BREXIT”, the EU Commission is going to exert a hard price for the UK. They will insist on a border solution that requires the Irish State to have a controlled EU border at the 1922 border of Ireland, which will require a fenced border, control crossings, and taxes. Ireland can allow all those with Irish passports free passage, and should join the Schengen travel area. Ditto the same controls on UK citizens crossing the Northern borders as prevail at the rest of the EU, as otherwise there can be no free movement of EU citizens and trade to and from Ireland. I think we are seeing the final act of the downfall of partition, as mobs of Unionists besieged the Irish Consulate in Belfast seeking Irish passports. Truly are the workings of Karma amazing to behold.

    1. And meanwhile there´s Gibraltar and what about Scotland … All a bit of a mess, isn´t it. How many current ¨soft Unionists¨ in NI would want a United Ireland, if that was the only way to retain EU funding as the UK economy tanks? Set up the dominos boys 😉

    2. The SNP’s announcement that they will seek some sort of independence referendum should Scotland be taken out of the EU’s Common Market/Travel Area has certainly put a fire under the Commentariat in London. Quite enjoyable really.

      1. I hope that this time they’ll think of something better than “we’ll keep the Pound”. Might not be a good idea seeing where it’s going.

      2. That just shows how little attention they normally pay to Alba. It´s been pretty well SNP policy ever since it became clear that the Vow etc. that won the last IndyRef were nothing but hot air. Maybe they´ve only just spelled it out in so many words, but it´s hardly news, simply following through on existing electoral commitments.

        Nicola was rather too measured in her speech for many, but she´s basically handing London enough rope to hang themselves. Caught between the baying Brexit Britnats, and a EU that´s gonna stick to its guns, no free market without free movement, they´re pretty well stuck, and now there´s Scotland (help!) All they can really do is stall for time, hope something may turn up (e.g. invasion by space monsters, the Second Coming … ???) and show as much Tory stiff upper lip as possible while silently shitting themselves.

        As for Ireland you have three choices regarding the UK/EU hard border :
        1. The Whole of Ireland is inside the UK´s zone and outside the EU;
        2. NI is in, the RoI is out and there´s a hard land border for customs and immigration;
        3. The whole of Ireland is in the EU and effectively out of the UK in all but name (no doubt some form of words (i.e. a fudge) can be devised).

        The only other possibility I can imagine (with some difficulty) is for Scotland to remain in the EU and for NI to come under Scottish juristiction or for a Scottish-Irish condominium. One way or another it will have to amount to creeping reunification.

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