Wednesday 17 October 2018

Explainer: The border issue - what do we want and what are the issues?

A sign from Border Communities Against Brexit is seen on the borderline between County Cavan in Ireland and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland near Woodford, Ireland, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
A sign from Border Communities Against Brexit is seen on the borderline between County Cavan in Ireland and County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland near Woodford, Ireland, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has set today as an absolute deadline for UK Prime Minster Theresa May to tell the EU how she intends to solve the border problem.

The border issue is proving difficult to resolve due to a number of factors outlined below:

1) The Irish Government wants assurance that the Good Friday Agreement and the common travel agreement will not be affected when Britain leaves the European Union.

The fundamental essence of the Good Friday Agreement allows for people in the North decide whether they wish to be British or Irish and therefore citizens of the EU.

In addition, the Irish Government does not want a hard border.

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Stock image

2) However Britain is adamant that it is leaving both the EU's customs union and single market and the DUP, which is currently propping up the British Government, does not want any special arrangement for Northern Ireland if it risks undermining the United Kingdom.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney
 

3) Speaking on Morning Ireland Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that the re-emergence of a land border on Ireland could not be an 'unintended consequence' of moving to phase two of Brexit negotiations without an understanding on the border.

He said: "Our fear of course is that it would have an unintended consequence because people can't find a way of resolving that issue in the future and we can't allow that and we won't."

4) Minister Coveney also cited the importance of trade between the Republic and Northern Ireland, saying that there are 5,000 small and medium enterprises in Northern Ireland that trade predominately with Ireland.

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