Generation Brexit

Troubled Times: The Irish question


Following years of religion-fuelled conflict followed by painstaking periods of reconciliation, the Good Friday Agreement (1998) ended border controls between the UK and Ireland. Yet, Brexit has raised critical questions about the future relationship between the two countries, with the Northern Irish question beginning once more to simmer under the surface. Central to this is the issue of a UK-Ireland Hard Border, and how to avoid it. The maintenance of open borders with Ireland seems inconsistent with the primary aims of Brexit. Therein lies the conundrum. Political will exists to do a deal on both sides, keeping the border open. But what do the Irish and Northern Irish themselves think of this?

• How should the border question be resolved?

• If a hard border is instated, should Northern Ireland be able to hold a referendum on union with Ireland?

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Most of the current controversy in Northern Ireland over the idea of 'special status' is explicable by reference to cultural divisions. The association of 'special status' with overwhelmingly remain-supporting nationalists has led to its outright rejection by some sections of the unionist community, particularly by the largest political representation of unionism, the DUP. Such contention demonstrates how terminology can become enmeshed in cultural divisions and deployed for political...

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