Ireland-Northern Ireland border impacts Brexit talks

By Julia Taliesin

Staff Writer

As Brexit talks continue with the European Union (EU), the Ireland-Northern Ireland border remains a divisive problem.

The Republic of Ireland remains a part of the EU while Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is leaving the EU. Irish and Northern Irish officials agree that the way Brexit will impact customs and trade relations with other countries has to be treated differently when it comes to Northern Ireland, due to the porous border it shares with Ireland.

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A sign on the Shean Road in Forkhill, Ireland, a border community. Credit: Donovan Wylie/Magnum Photos

Northern Ireland has always been a special case. A long history of religious and ethnic tensions, as well as simple geography, necessitated a soft border. Many cross-border communities exist as well.

The BBC reported that British Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May promised there would be no hard border between the two countries. Since then, proposed ideas include keeping the UK within the EU customs union or developing a new way to “align customs approaches” between them.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, the party aligned with keeping Northern Ireland in the UK, said she was unwilling to accept “any suggestion that Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations.”

The EU has given PM May until Dec. 4 to come up with solutions and further proposals for how to manage the Irish border.

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