Generation Brexit

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Troubled Times: The Irish question

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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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  1. Grace-Mary Sweeney
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  2. Tanmay Malhotra
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  3. McCauley Pugh
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The DUP, being unionist, is a political party that wants to preserve Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom at all costs. It will not easily agree to anything that further integrates Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland that also separates it from Britain. Even if it were to agree to such an agreement, it would not change the minds of the unionist community. Dublin and the nationalist community will be enraged by anything that interrupts Northern Ireland's...

McCauley Pugh
by McCauley Pugh
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McCauley Pugh

The UK and the EU's main priority at this point should be to avoid conflict along the Irish border. From a moral perspective, no stakes can be high enough to risk a relapse into the destruction that Ireland and Northern Ireland faced before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.  As I see it, the only barrier impeding a resolution on the Northern Ireland border issue at this point is the DUP. Given how instrumental the role of the DUP is in Mrs May's minority government, it seems likely that...

Tanmay Malhotra
by Tanmay Malhotra
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Tanmay Malhotra

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...

Grace-Mary Sweeney
by Grace-Mary Sweeney
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Grace-Mary Sweeney
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