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Brexit and Northern Ireland: "A forced renationalisation"



isNo one was hurt, but the memory was immediately awakened in Londonderry. On Saturday, in the city that Republicans call only Derry, a car bomb exploded in front of the court. After the attack, you immediately suspected that the IRA or one of their factions might be behind it. On Monday, these were then confirmed at least to the extent that the police now makes the "New IRA" responsible for the attack. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is only a few miles away and is currently the biggest problem between the EU and the United Kingdom. in the Brexit negotiations. Many fear that the fear of a difficult limit that could be attracted by the Brexit between the two political parties of the island could have led to this act – and a flare-up of the "Troubles" result.

Oliver Kühn

But this fear should not be exaggerated, says Jonny Byrne, a professor at the University of Ulster. Violence has always existed in Northern Ireland, even after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, in which Republicans and Unionists have closed the spiral of violence from the 60s. However, Brexit now offers people who are nevertheless ready to use force to enforce their political goals, a way to bury them by pointing to a possible difficult border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But the current situation is completely different than the 1990s, Byrne believes. He is convinced that "there will never be a situation like in the seventies, eighties and nineties".

However, Byrne does not rule out that there may be violence and further attacks in Northern Ireland. In particular, the creation of a hard edge, as it could derive from the Brexit between the two parts of the island, creates physical targets that could be attacked. But this is not at all inevitable, says Byrne. An escalation of conflicts would also increase the number of security forces, he believes.

The question of Northern Ireland is currently one of the biggest problems that delay the Brexit process. The agreement negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU has established that Britain should remain part of the Customs Union if, after a transitional period, no commercial agreement has been established that excludes a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. For those who have tried to leave the EU, this is unacceptable. Even the Northern DUP party, which has entered into a sort of coalition with the May conservatives in London, does not want this backstop, the unionists fear that they will be treated differently after Brexit than the rest of the UK. That's why the agreement failed in the House of Commons last week, so Theresa May had to present her "Plan B" to parliamentarians this Monday.

Prepared for everything: sign near the northern Irish-Irish border


According to British media reports, May could assure parliamentarians of this plan B that they are negotiating again with Brussels to negotiate agreement improvements on key points. Meanwhile, the Financial Times said that the Minister of Commerce Liam Fox had suggested to conclude an agreement with Ireland directly to avoid the blockade. However, the Irish government quickly put an end to this idea and pointed out that Ireland was negotiating with London not "on its own" but "as part of the 27 European states". The Telegraph, on the other hand, said May is considering changing the Good Friday Agreement – an idea that British commentators immediately judged unrealistic. Even Jonny Byrne from Ulster sees it that way. The agreement was ratified in the referendums and "belongs to the people," Byrne said. Therefore, any solution to the Northern Ireland-Brexit problem must be based on the Good Friday agreement. So far, however, no such solution in sight, certainly not until the end of March, the official release date of the British from the EU. Northern Ireland is in no case ready for an exit without agreement, Byrne believes.


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