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Old 09-08-2019, 10:36 PM
kirkrapine is offline
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RE Ireland -- please correct me if I'm wrong


The Catholics and the Protestants do not fight over which version of Christianity God prefers. They fight because the Catholics are descended from the original Celtic Irish, and the Protestants are descended from English and Scottish settlers who were sent to Ireland for the express purpose of dominating and marginalizing the Irish. It is not so much a religious as a tribal division. That is why the old Irish joke -- "Yes, but are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?" -- does not pose a meaningless question; you can change your beliefs, but not your tribe.

Posting this because of speculation that a no-deal Brexit, creating a "hard border" between NI and the Republic, might revive the Troubles.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:55 PM
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What is the Great Debate?
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:05 PM
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You're basically right. Theological points don't feature at all in the issues which divide the two communities; "Catholic" and "Protestant" are simply convenient components of the cultural heritage of the two communities which serve as a shorthand to identify them. There are numerous other cultural markers - you can usually tell, within a few minutes of meeting somebody, which community they belong to without having to do anything so crass as to ask - but this one is particularly consistent and is already associated with a nomenclature, so it is the one that is use.

The hardening of the border poses a threat because it undermines the "parity of esteem" for the two identities which is the foundation of the peace settlement. Imposing tariffs, checks, controls etc on trade with the Republic of Ireland marks "Irish" as a foreign identity in a way that "British" is not marked. This is offensive and threatening to those who identify as Irish. (Plus, obviously, it's signficantly economically harmful to NI as a whole, and it imposes on NI a project which it has voted against, all of which reinforces the perceptions of the community that they should not trust, or expect fair treatment from, the British government.)
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by D'Anconia View Post
What is the Great Debate?
Is there any other reason for the two factions to fight? More to the point, is there any reason still relevant in this day and age? "Home Rule is Rome rule!" doesn't seem to matter much, any more, if it ever did. Why have the Troubles again?

Last edited by kirkrapine; 09-08-2019 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:22 PM
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The hardening of the border poses a threat because it undermines the "parity of esteem" for the two identities which is the foundation of the peace settlement. Imposing tariffs, checks, controls etc on trade with the Republic of Ireland marks "Irish" as a foreign identity in a way that "British" is not marked. This is offensive and threatening to those who identify as Irish.
And, I believe there are many Protestants who do so identify. They have been in the country for centuries, after all.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:16 AM
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And, I believe there are many Protestants who do so identify. They have been in the country for centuries, after all.
Idemtity in NI is a complex and evolving matter.

A hundred years ago, there would have been plenty of people - most but not all Protestant - who identified as Irish andBritish, and who would have been unionists in political terms. But such has been the polarising nature of the conflict in NI that the number of people whose primary idenfication is "Irish" and who are political unionists has been declining steadily, and is probably now very small.

A 2014 survey suggested that, among Protestants in NI:

68.3% identified only as "British"
14.5% identified only as "Northern Irish"
11.1% identified as both "British" and "Northern Irish", but claimed no other identity
2.1% identified only as "Irish"
1.0% identified as "British", "Irish" and "Northern Irish"
0.5% identified as both "British" and "Irish", but claimed no other identity
0.2% identified as "Irish" and "Northern Irish", but claimed no other identity

IOW, the great bulk of NI Protestants do not accept "Irish" as an identity, either alone or in conjuction with others.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:23 AM
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IOW, the great bulk of NI Protestants do not accept "Irish" as an identity, either alone or in conjuction with others.
Well, "Protestant" won't do as a national identity in this day and age, will it?! This isn't Martin Luther's time, nor yet John Calvin's! Are they really anachronistic theocrats?!
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:29 AM
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Well, "Protestant" won't do as a national identity in this day and age, will it?! This isn't Martin Luther's time, nor yet John Calvin's! Are they really anachronistic theocrats?!
No, they're not. As I have already pointed out, theology isn't an issue here.

And for the most part they don't identify as protestants - they mostly identify as British, Northern Irish or both. They are identified as Protestant by others - often, I have to say, by commentators in North America who assume, and/or who inadvertently help to promote the misconception that, this tension is mainly a religious one. It isn't. The two communities can be characterised by their respective denominations, but the issues that divide them are not religious issues - not at all.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:33 AM
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The strand of unionism that used to tie up swings in children's playgrounds on Sundays has retreated to the last ditch on same-sex marriage and abortion, but since they are represented by the DUP, they have a strong position at Westminster while there is still no clear majority from the rest of the UK, and they have the blocking power that's prevented the devolved NI government from operating these last couple of years.

AFAIK, the parties that represent Irish nationalists don't stick to the Catholic church's line on such matters, though individual members might well do.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:53 AM
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. . . (Plus, obviously, it's signficantly economically harmful to NI as a whole, and it imposes on NI a project which it has voted against, all of which reinforces the perceptions of the community that they should not trust, or expect fair treatment from, the British government.)
A hard border would be an economic disaster for both sides. I don't think anyone is seriously contemplating it.

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. . .
A 2014 survey suggested that, among Protestants in NI:

68.3% identified only as "British"
14.5% identified only as "Northern Irish"
11.1% identified as both "British" and "Northern Irish", but claimed no other identity
2.1% identified only as "Irish"
1.0% identified as "British", "Irish" and "Northern Irish"
0.5% identified as both "British" and "Irish", but claimed no other identity
0.2% identified as "Irish" and "Northern Irish", but claimed no other identity

IOW, the great bulk of NI Protestants do not accept "Irish" as an identity, either alone or in conjuction with others.
This is patently ridiculous, as NI is not a part of Great Britain. Great Britain is the island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland. My cousins might hurt you if you called them British. If they'd been drinking with you, they might pour their drinks out.

But I can understand how the Brexit folderol would have the Protestants feeling defensive of their nationality and their passports. Quite a few people are hoping that parliament hocks this up badly enough to force Northern Ireland back into the Republican fold. But I don't think it had even begun in 2014, which is the date given for the poll. The referendum was in 2016, were they campaigning over it that far back?
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:04 AM
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A hard border would be an economic disaster for both sides. I don't think anyone is seriously contemplating it.
The British government is aggressively pursuing policies which, if not changed, will certainly result in a hard border. That's the problem we're facing, basically.

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This is patently ridiculous, as NI is not a part of Great Britain. Great Britain is the island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland. My cousins might hurt you if you called them British. If they'd been drinking with you, they might pour their drinks out.
You may think it's ridiculous, and you know your cousins better than I do so I'll take your word for it that they think it's ridiculous too. But the people in NI who identify as British presumably do not think it's ridiculous. Those people exist, their identification is genuine and heartfelt, and they are numerous.

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But I can understand how the Brexit folderol would have the Protestants feeling defensive of their nationality and their passports. Quite a few people are hoping that parliament hocks this up badly enough to force Northern Ireland back into the Republican fold. But I don't think it had even begun in 2014, which is the date given for the poll. The referendum was in 2016, were they campaigning over it that far back?
They were not. This identification is not a response to Brexit, but a long-standing matter. A recognition of the reality and signficance of this identification, and equally of the corresponding Irish identification, is one of the cornerstones on which the Good Friday Agreement rests, and that was concluded 20 years ago. The pattern of identification is much older than that.

Last edited by UDS; 09-09-2019 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:08 AM
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The Catholics and the Protestants do not fight over which version of Christianity God prefers. They fight because the Catholics are descended from the original Celtic Irish, and the Protestants are descended from English and Scottish settlers who were sent to Ireland for the express purpose of dominating and marginalizing the Irish.
Irish-American weighing in here. Ireland's history is such that its shores and bloodlines have been invaded by nearly every civilization that had boats. (The Celts, whom you cite, weren't exactly the "original" Irish, but were just another wave of invaders, originating somewhere in central Europe.) I once read about a teenage girl who was half-Irish and half-Vietnamese and wished she was "purely" one or the other. I can't think of two less "pure" old world nationalities than those two.

It's in the Irish character that if you somehow magically waved away all the Protestants, the remaining Catholics would find something to fight about with each other. Or vice-versa, if you magically waved away the Catholics.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:21 AM
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Northern Ireland is of course not part of Great Britain, it is, however part of the British Isles, and the residents are British citizens by law, if not by personal identity. Britishness is not dependent on residence in Great Britain, see the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and so on for details. They might be offended, but their passports would have 'British Citizen' written in there, so its hardly a ridiculous statement.

It's a little surprising to me how little comment there is about the sheer impracticality of a hard border in Ireland- there's been talk of the impact on the peace process. But hang on a moment, supposedly, in under 2 months time, the default situation is that somehow a 310 mile barrier is going to be stuck up along the border which currently has over 200 roads crossing in, including a few that loop in then back out. This means going through the middle of farms, across house driveways, even down the centre of a road for some distance... That'd be a damn big complicated project, even if everyone locally was asking for a barrier, and to put it mildly, they're not.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:12 PM
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It's a little surprising to me how little comment there is about the sheer impracticality of a hard border in Ireland- there's been talk of the impact on the peace process. But hang on a moment, supposedly, in under 2 months time, the default situation is that somehow a 310 mile barrier is going to be stuck up along the border which currently has over 200 roads crossing in, including a few that loop in then back out. This means going through the middle of farms, across house driveways, even down the centre of a road for some distance... That'd be a damn big complicated project, even if everyone locally was asking for a barrier, and to put it mildly, they're not.
Impractical, but not in the sense of impossible. There was a hard border there for 70 years, after all. It may not have worked well at doing the things borders ought to do - smuggling was rife, it was impossible to secure, etc - but it was a sufficiently hard border to inflict lasting adverse economic, social and political injury on the communities on both sides of it.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:04 PM
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And, I believe there are many Protestants who do so identify. They have been in the country for centuries, after all.
Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, two of the founders of the 18th c. republican group the United Irishmen, and leaders of the Irish revolt of 1798, were Protestants.
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:25 PM
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Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet, two of the founders of the 18th c. republican group the United Irishmen, and leaders of the Irish revolt of 1798, were Protestants.
There have always been Protestant Irish Republicans. There still are.

But in modern times - since the late 19th century, anyway - Protestants in (what is now) Northern Ireland have been overwhelmingly unionist in politics, and nowadays they overwhelmingly identify as British or Northern Irish or both.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:00 PM
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:18 PM
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"Catholic" and "Protestant" are simply shorthand to identify them. There are numerous other cultural markers - you can usually tell, within a few minutes of meeting somebody, which community they belong to without having to do anything so crass as to ask
a little off topic for GD, but I'm curious: What are some of these markers?
How obvious are they, and do they affect social interactions? When you meet somebody new, do you categorize him (even if only silently in your mind) as belonging to one of the tribes, or is it irrelevant?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:49 PM
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a little off topic for GD, but I'm curious: What are some of these markers?
How obvious are they, and do they affect social interactions? When you meet somebody new, do you categorize him (even if only silently in your mind) as belonging to one of the tribes, or is it irrelevant?
There are lots of markers. Surnames are often a reasonably reliable marker, obviously. So are given names; George is highly likely to be a Protestant; Patrick a Catholic. (But not all names are so heavily marked.) What school somebody went to is pretty telling. Who else they know - in Ireland when you make a new acquaintance one of the first things you do is establish who you know in common, and this tells you a good deal about his or her social network and connections which enables you to place them.

None of the markers are conclusive, but there are so many of them that, cumulatively, they build up quite quickly into a reasonably reliable indicator. The apparent triviality of some of the markers is a subject of humour from time to time- Catholics go to more funerals that Protestants do, for example; And it's a standing jokey stereotype that Catholics go on holidays to Bundoran (a holiday resort town) while Protestants go to Newcastle (another resort town) but it's a stereotype precisely because it is, in fact, true. (Not that all Catholics do this, obviously, but anyone holidaying in Bundoran is probably a Catholic.) If she plays or has played camogie, she's a Catholic; hockey, a Protestant. Etc, etc.

Do people make a point of categorising one another in this way? Not generally, no; it's rarely necessary. But it happens anyway; the impressions you form of somebody as you get to know them will include an impression of which community they belong to.

Does this affect social interactions? I have never lived in Northern Ireland, but friends who have tell me yes, it does; if you are a member of one community there and you are introduced to somebody who you realise is a member of the other community (or who you just can't place, which does happen), there are likely to be a couple of conversational topics that you will prefer to avoid or be restrained about until you know them a good deal better.

And, sensitive political topics aside, there are assumptions you will make about things that might or might not be familiar to them. For example, you would take it for granted that a Catholic living in Northern Ireland within a couple of hours drive from Dublin, a European capital city of more than a million people with a vibrant social and cultural life, will be familiar with the city (as in, will have spent time there, will know the place) whereas you wouldn't take that for granted with a Protestant living in NI.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:47 AM
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Double post.

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Old 09-10-2019, 05:51 AM
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Dublin is vibrant?

Looks and feels like a mid level English city. Even the accents, considering the rather posh airs of some Dubliners and the mass of Irish in England.

Itís nice, that Iíll give it.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:14 AM
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Fight my ignorance please. What happens if there's Hard Brexit but no border controls are set up in Ireland?

Would the EU find the R. of Ireland to be out of compliance? Would English smugglers start bringing EU goods (or people) in illegally, via Ireland? (If so, would that be considered a Plus or a Minus by the Brits?)
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:21 AM
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Impractical, but not in the sense of impossible. There was a hard border there for 70 years, after all. It may not have worked well at doing the things borders ought to do - smuggling was rife, it was impossible to secure, etc - but it was a sufficiently hard border to inflict lasting adverse economic, social and political injury on the communities on both sides of it.
They're talking like people are going to wake up on November 1st and *bam* there's a huge wall and checkpoints. I have yet to hear any official talk about direct costs to build, compensation for landowners whose cows now need to get a passport to come in for milking or anything, just comments that that it'll come into place by default. They're not even threatening to make Ireland pay for it, it's just going to somehow happen.

It seems like pure magical thinking.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:46 AM
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Impractical, but not in the sense of impossible. There was a hard border there for 70 years, after all. It may not have worked well at doing the things borders ought to do - smuggling was rife, it was impossible to secure, etc - but it was a sufficiently hard border to inflict lasting adverse economic, social and political injury on the communities on both sides of it.
Except for perhaps WW2, pretty sure is was not a particularly hard border. I remember going from Belfast to Dublin mid 1990ís and yes there were checks, but it was almost like showing your ticket to an usher, guy breezes through. It was no where like the Governmentally mandated anal probes that exist post 9-11.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:30 AM
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Fight my ignorance please. What happens if there's Hard Brexit but no border controls are set up in Ireland?

Would the EU find the R. of Ireland to be out of compliance? Would English smugglers start bringing EU goods (or people) in illegally, via Ireland? (If so, would that be considered a Plus or a Minus by the Brits?)
My guess is that the primary issue would be people and goods crossing into Northern Ireland from Ireland and not the other way around. I believe having sovereignty over their own borders was a big issue with the leavers.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:38 AM
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Dublin is vibrant?
Compare it with the rest of Ireland, rather than with the rest of the world.

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Except for perhaps WW2, pretty sure is was not a particularly hard border. I remember going from Belfast to Dublin mid 1990’s and yes there were checks, but it was almost like showing your ticket to an usher, guy breezes through. It was no where like the Governmentally mandated anal probes that exist post 9-11.
Along with my schoolmates spending a couple of months there, I went from Ireland to Belfast in 1983 and it was a long wait at the border, check all passports (please please please let nobody have forgotten theirs god is great ok nobody has), several stops along the way and Belfast felt absolutely militarized. We found it scary, and this was during the time when other Basque were leaving the Basque country for fear of ETA; we were used to relatively-high levels of police presence. We were left in a park and didn't dare leave it; there were soldiers everywhere.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:46 AM
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Northern Ireland is of course not part of Great Britain, it is, however part of the British Isles,
British Isles is a problem term .

While it was originally invented in Roman times it then dropped out of use for 1500 years .

It was revived in Tudor times as a political term to justify their control of the territory .

It is a term not used by the Irish Government in document , they will use a variation of "these Isles"s
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:08 PM
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Fight my ignorance please. What happens if there's Hard Brexit but no border controls are set up in Ireland?

Would the EU find the R. of Ireland to be out of compliance? Would English smugglers start bringing EU goods (or people) in illegally, via Ireland? (If so, would that be considered a Plus or a Minus by the Brits?)
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They're talking like people are going to wake up on November 1st and *bam* there's a huge wall and checkpoints. I have yet to hear any official talk about direct costs to build, compensation for landowners whose cows now need to get a passport to come in for milking or anything, just comments that that it'll come into place by default. They're not even threatening to make Ireland pay for it, it's just going to somehow happen.

It seems like pure magical thinking.
It's not magical thinking at all. Border controls are the default condition for borders; it requires considerable effort and ingenuity, and high degree of international co-operation, to avoid them, and in fact the borders between EU member states are pretty much the only example of international borders which are wholly open.

Among the points of Brexit is so that the UK can have its own trade policy - set its own tariffs, negotiate its own trade deals. But there's no point in setting tariffs if you're not going to bother collecting them, so there will need to be arrangements to collect tariffs on good crossing into the UK. Trade deals will be hard or impossible to negotiate if other countries have no incentive to negotiate them, and you abandon the primary incentive if your policy is not to levy tariffs, or to pretend to levy them but not to collect them. Why would another country make a trade deal to get a reduction or elimination in tariffs that aren't payable anyway?

And this cuts both ways; the EU is also concerned about the integrity of its tariff regime, but also about the integrity of its single market. Goods in Dublin can be brought to Athens without any kind of tarifss, checks, controls, documentation, compliance - anything. This requires confidence that goods in Dublin are fully compliant with EU market requirements. The UK will no longer be committed to applying or enforcing EU market standards, and if there is no control on goods moving from the UK to Ireland then non-compliant goods can enter the single market.

And that's even without considering the UK's ambition to be become a global trading nation, and the need to respect WTO rules if they are to have any hope of doing that, and the implications of WTO rules for a policy of not bothering to enforce customs and market regulations on goods imported from, or through, just one country.

A border, basically, is the point where one fiscal and regulatory regime gives way to another. That means when goods cross the border, they become subject to new rules and new taxes, and that's not really consistent with the idea of not enforcing the rules or collecting the taxes. The mechanisms which are used to enforce the rules and collect the taxes are the things that make a border hard. Neither side wants, or admits to wanting, those mechanisms to apply at the Irish border, but unless both are willing to make the choices needed to avoid them, then their application is inevitable. It won't happen overnight; it will take a little time to devise, prepare for and implement the mechanisms, so they will be rolled out on a gradual basis. But they will unquestionably be rolled out. There is literally no point to Brexit, and no point to the Single Market and the Customs Union, if this is not done.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:10 PM
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Except for perhaps WW2, pretty sure is was not a particularly hard border. I remember going from Belfast to Dublin mid 1990ís and yes there were checks, but it was almost like showing your ticket to an usher, guy breezes through. It was no where like the Governmentally mandated anal probes that exist post 9-11.
Cough. The single market was completed in 1993. The border you passed through in the mid-90s was the open border - not the hard border that is the default outcome of Brexit.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:55 PM
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Fight my ignorance please. What happens if there's Hard Brexit but no border controls are set up in Ireland?

Would the EU find the R. of Ireland to be out of compliance? Would English smugglers start bringing EU goods (or people) in illegally, via Ireland? (If so, would that be considered a Plus or a Minus by the Brits?)
If British goods are being allowed entry into the Republic, without paying taxes or being subject to quality controls, then that means the EU would have a policy that taxes aren't paid at the EU Border.

And under WTO rules, that would mean that the EU has established tariff free entry and would have to give the same terms to every other member of the WTO, because the WTO rule is that every member gets the same treatment from another member that it gives to its "most favoured nation." Britain would be the "most favour d nation" and the EU would have to give that same MFN treatment to all other WTO members.

So if the EU doesn't charge border taxes on Brifish goods coming into Ireland, it can't charge border taxes on goods from any other WTO member, bringing goods of into any EU country.

Hence, the Irish backstop, to establish a customs zone indefinitely between the EU and Britain.

Hence, outrage from Brexiteers, who say the EU isn't "playing fair" and not letting Britain go.

But how can the EU give up its right to charge tariffs on goods from all the WTO states, to satisfy Britain?

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Old 09-10-2019, 09:27 PM
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A hard border would be an economic disaster for both sides. I don't think anyone is seriously contemplating it.
The PM of the UK wants Britain to leave the EU without any arrangements for a customs union with the Republic. He has rejected the Withdrawal Agreement, which would have prevented a hard border. It appears to be the policy of the British government to leave even if that creates a hard border.


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This is patently ridiculous, as NI is not a part of Great Britain. Great Britain is the island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
If the residents of Northern Ireland aren't British because Ireland isn't part of the island of Great Britain, then you would agree that the residents of Hawaii are not Americans because Hawaii is not part of North America, correct?
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by UDS View Post
Cough. The single market was completed in 1993. The border you passed through in the mid-90s was the open border - not the hard border that is the default outcome of Brexit.
I went on a road trip from Edinburgh to Donegal in 1990 and didn't even take my passport (I don't have either British or Irish citizenship) - as far as I recall we just drove and nobody stopped is. That's crossing the border in the middle of nowhere, mind you, not in the city.

There's only a physical border if somebody builds a physical border. Who's currently on the UK and Ireland back to build one, if they both take one look at the problem, go 'fuck it - causes too many problems' and then just don't? (Serious question - perhaps the answer is 'the EU')
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  #33  
Old 09-10-2019, 10:09 PM
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I went on a road trip from Edinburgh to Donegal in 1990 and didn't even take my passport (I don't have either British or Irish citizenship) - as far as I recall we just drove and nobody stopped is. That's crossing the border in the middle of nowhere, mind you, not in the city.
Were you towing a trailer of meat at the time? Or perhaps a tanker of liquid milk?

Broadly, there are three kinds of controls applied at international borders:

- Migration controls, which affect people crossing the border. Have you got the passports, visas, etc that are required? Are you on a watch-list? Etc.

- Fiscal controls, which have to do with taxes. Are tariffs due? Pay them, or make the required arrangements to have them paid. Excise duties? Value-added tax? Etc.

- Regulatory controls, which mostly have to do with goods. Are these goods which is is lawful to bring into the country? To sell? Do they conform to applicable market regulations regarding, e.g., safety? Does trading in these goods require any particular licence or approval, and have you got it? Etc.

For quite a long time now, Ireland and the UK have been in a Common Travel Area, established by agreement between the two governments, under which there is little or no migration control at the Irish/UK border. If you can lawfully enter Ireland, you can travel from there to the UK without restrictions or formalities, and vice versa. This predates both countries' membership of the EU, and will survive Brexit. The hard border that people fear will result from Brexit is not a migration border.

It's a fiscal and regulatory border. Individuals crossing the border will not be affected per se (unless perhaps by congestion and delay resulting from the issues I am about to mention.) It's goods crossing the border, trading across the border, and also individuals crossing the border for economic purposes (e.g. to provide services to a customer across the border) which will be adversely impacted. But this will be a very substantial impact, with signficantly adverse social, economic and political consequences.

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Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
There's only a physical border if somebody builds a physical border. Who's currently on the UK and Ireland back to build one, if they both take one look at the problem, go 'fuck it - causes too many problems' and then just don't? (Serious question - perhaps the answer is 'the EU')
Because not constructing a border causes huge problems for both of them. For the UK, it fundamentally derails the whole Brexit project, for reasons already outlined. The British can't "take back control of our borders" (a Leave campaign slogan) by abandoning control of their borders. They can't operate their own tariff policy without actually collecting tariffs. They can't have their own market regulations for goods if they don't apply their market regulations for goods, and anyone is free to import and sell anything they like. And similar issues affect the EU (and Ireland as a member state of the EU).

Border controls don't exist for fun. They exist because they are needed to implement laws and policies. You can, of course, devise laws and policies which don't require border controls for their implementation - that was basically the design brief for the Customs Union (tariff policy) and the Single Market (regulatory policy). What you can't do is adopt laws and policies which require border controls to be effectively implemented and then decide not to bother with the border controls, not to bother with any attempted alternative implementation method that doesn't involve border controls, and assume that things will just work out. Any pretence, for political or electoral advantage, that you will do this is not credible.
  #34  
Old 09-10-2019, 11:08 PM
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Dublin is vibrant?

Looks and feels like a mid level English city. Even the accents, considering the rather posh airs of some Dubliners and the mass of Irish in England.

Itís nice, that Iíll give it.
Gosh, yes, Dublin is vibrant - four universities with about 47,000 students, about a dozen permanent theatres and more theatre companies, thriving indigenous live music scene, bumper-to-bumper taxis on George's St at 2 am, direct flights to about 20 European capital cities - pick any other list of crude indicators of cultural vibrancy that you like, and see if you can find an English provincial city that can tick all the same boxes.
  #35  
Old 09-11-2019, 01:44 AM
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Gosh, yes, Dublin is vibrant - four universities with about 47,000 students, about a dozen permanent theatres and more theatre companies, thriving indigenous live music scene, bumper-to-bumper taxis on George's St at 2 am, direct flights to about 20 European capital cities - pick any other list of crude indicators of cultural vibrancy that you like, and see if you can find an English provincial city that can tick all the same boxes.
Glasgow. Manchester. Liverpool. Newcastle. Bristol.

I like Dublin. Spent a lot of my uni holidays there. But to call it a European Capital in all but the most technical way is really pushing it.

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Broadly, there are three kinds of controls applied at international borders:

- Migration controls, which affect people crossing the border. Have you got the passports, visas, etc that are required? Are you on a watch-list? Etc.
(SNI)

For quite a long time now, Ireland and the UK have been in a Common Travel Area, established by agreement between the two governments, under which there is little or no migration control at the Irish/UK border. If you can lawfully enter Ireland, you can travel from there to the UK without restrictions or formalities, and vice versa. This predates both countries' membership of the EU, and will survive Brexit. The hard border that people fear will result from Brexit is not a migration border.
Agreed. The CTA existed for a long time before the EC membership started and indeed seamlessly was subsumed into it....despite the UK and Ireland both not being part of the Schengen zone. Still, its perfectly possible to drive from Belfast to Dublin without ever needing practically needed a passport, though technically you might need it and a visa (as I did, though I always made sure I went to the appropriate authorities before entering and exiting).

Thats a problem now. The political realities in the UK are that free movement of persons is a dead letter, no political party supports it. Outside of EU membership that was fine.

A Republic in the EU and the UK outside the EU makes a different situation. One in which the CTA cannot function as is. Because it means that someone can enter the Republic and simply drive to Belfast and enter the UK.
  #36  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:08 AM
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Glasgow. Manchester. Liverpool. Newcastle. Bristol.
Glasgow is not an English provincial city. Do not make this mistake in the wrong company. I'll say no more than that.

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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
The CTA existed for a long time before the EC membership started and indeed seamlessly was subsumed into it....despite the UK and Ireland both not being part of the Schengen zone. Still, its perfectly possible to drive from Belfast to Dublin without ever needing practically needed a passport, though technically you might need it and a visa (as I did, though I always made sure I went to the appropriate authorities before entering and exiting).

Thats a problem now. The political realities in the UK are that free movement of persons is a dead letter, no political party supports it. Outside of EU membership that was fine.

A Republic in the EU and the UK outside the EU makes a different situation. One in which the CTA cannot function as is. Because it means that someone can enter the Republic and simply drive to Belfast and enter the UK.
UK position is that they will maintain the CTA and, for once, I think they mean this and will implement it.

The problem this creates is that it presents an opportunity for, e.g. a Polish citizen to enter the UK without any control or even knowledge on the part of the UK authorities. But in practical reality this is not a huge problem because Polish citizen will be able to enter the UK very easily anyway - there will be visa-free entry for EU citizens.

What Brexit UK wants is not to stop, or even apply much control on, EU citizens entering the UK, but on EU citizens settling in the UK - becoming resident there, taking up jobs, etc. But they don't intend to do this through border controls; rather, they will use in-country controls. EU citizens will be able to enter the country with minimal cost, delay or formality and in practice without their entry even being recorded, but in order to rent a flat, put their kids in school, register with a GP practice, take a job, etc they will have to demonstrate that they have an appropriate citizenship/migration status giving them a right of abode in the UK. Migration law enforcement will be largely outsourced to schools, doctors, employers etc, who themselves will exposed to penalties if they do not co-operate in implementing the rules.

Is this practicable? Will it work effectively? Will it be politically acceptable to UK citizens who will now have to produce papers proving their status in order to do everyday things? Is this what they fought the War for? Are the words "Windrush scandal" galloping towards this conversation at breakneck speed? All good questions, but they are not made more pressing or acute by the continuation of the CTA. What the UK intends to do in this regard is not incompatible with the continuation of the CTA, and if what they intend to do proves impracticable it won't be made practicable by terminating the CTA.

So, of the three kinds of controls on the UK/Irish border that might be threatened by Brexit - migration, fiscal, regulatory - I think migration controls are the least likely to eventuate, and if they do it will not be for some time. As matters stand the other two are certain to eventuate, and quite quickly.

Last edited by UDS; 09-11-2019 at 02:11 AM.
  #37  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:09 AM
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Were you towing a trailer of meat at the time? Or perhaps a tanker of liquid milk?
Heh We were in a little white van. Coulda been anything in the back (not huge tons of anything, I'll grant). What there actually was, was three mattresses and a half-dozen students who didn't believe in road safety laws

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For quite a long time now, Ireland and the UK have been in a Common Travel Area, established by agreement between the two governments, under which there is little or no migration control at the Irish/UK border. If you can lawfully enter Ireland, you can travel from there to the UK without restrictions or formalities, and vice versa. This predates both countries' membership of the EU, and will survive Brexit. The hard border that people fear will result from Brexit is not a migration border.

It's a fiscal and regulatory border. Individuals crossing the border will not be affected per se (unless perhaps by congestion and delay resulting from the issues I am about to mention.) It's goods crossing the border, trading across the border, and also individuals crossing the border for economic purposes (e.g. to provide services to a customer across the border) which will be adversely impacted. But this will be a very substantial impact, with signficantly adverse social, economic and political consequences.


Because not constructing a border causes huge problems for both of them. For the UK, it fundamentally derails the whole Brexit project, for reasons already outlined. The British can't "take back control of our borders" (a Leave campaign slogan) by abandoning control of their borders. They can't operate their own tariff policy without actually collecting tariffs. They can't have their own market regulations for goods if they don't apply their market regulations for goods, and anyone is free to import and sell anything they like. And similar issues affect the EU (and Ireland as a member state of the EU).
I do see that not properly implementing the customs border causes big problems for both the Eire/EU side and the UK. Except that if they do properly implement the customs border that also causes huge problems (more problems for NI than for the Republic, I guess). From the British side, it looks like implementing the border is actually worse in terms of problem caused. Boris seems to be sticking his fingers in his ears and saying la la la I have a secret plan that we won't need any of that stuff - so it doesn't look like he's doing any work to employ border staff and build checkpoints. Is someone in the Irish government doing that?
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  #38  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:34 AM
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It's not magical thinking at all. Border controls are the default condition for borders; it requires considerable effort and ingenuity, and high degree of international co-operation, to avoid them, and in fact the borders between EU member states are pretty much the only example of international borders which are wholly open.
The rules can officially spring into place, sure, but I don't see how they're going to be able to do more than draw a chalk line and get people to pinky promise not to cross it over 99%+ of the border on November 1st. Unless, of course, there's a huge secret stockpile of physical barriers, thousands of people contracted to put them up in a single night, border guards already starting the hiring process...

They could manage a few token checkpoints on the major routes. They could declare rules. Ability to enforce rules is what I'm talking about. How do you enforce a hard border without a physical barrier or checks? They take time, and money, and organisation to put in place.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be massively damaging to legal trade, I'm just saying that turning a line on a map into a meaningful border is not something that just happens. A border you can drive right across without any checks isn't a hard border, except on paper.
  #39  
Old 09-11-2019, 02:39 AM
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Except that if they do properly implement the customs border that also causes huge problems (more problems for NI than for the Republic, I guess).
The border with Northern Ireland isn't Ireland's only problem. Most of its trade with the rest of the EU is by truck, and those trucks will have to cross the EU border twice. A hard border between the UK and Ireland is also effectively a hard border between Ireland and France. Neither country is landlocked, obviously, but the existing direct ferry links don't have the capacity or the speed to handle everything.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 09-11-2019 at 02:41 AM.
  #40  
Old 09-11-2019, 03:08 AM
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Goods in Dublin can be brought to Athens without any kind of tarifss, checks, controls, documentation, compliance - anything.
There are checks, controls, documentation and compliance (sic, I'd really like to know what do you think people aren't complying with): most of it is supposed to be done at point of origin and point of arrival, but documentation can be checked at any point during travel. When I've worked for companies whose products need to travel with MSDS, one of the points of discussion is what language to print those in (source and destination, both plus English, all languages along the route, all plus English), with the end decision often varying by route; other items such as bills of lading are often multilingual as well, to facilitate checks.
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  #41  
Old 09-11-2019, 03:21 AM
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The rules can officially spring into place, sure, but I don't see how they're going to be able to do more than draw a chalk line and get people to pinky promise not to cross it over 99%+ of the border on November 1st. Unless, of course, there's a huge secret stockpile of physical barriers, thousands of people contracted to put them up in a single night, border guards already starting the hiring process...

They could manage a few token checkpoints on the major routes. They could declare rules. Ability to enforce rules is what I'm talking about. How do you enforce a hard border without a physical barrier or checks? They take time, and money, and organisation to put in place.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be massively damaging to legal trade, I'm just saying that turning a line on a map into a meaningful border is not something that just happens. A border you can drive right across without any checks isn't a hard border, except on paper.
It doesn't happen immediately; it can't. But it will happen, and fairly quickly. The countries on both sides of the border have interests which they cannot neglect indefinely, and which require the border to be controlled.

I mean, that's why borders everywyhere else are controlled. That's why structures and arrangements like the Customs Union and the Single Market were developed; to avoid the need for border controls. What is so magical about the Ireland/NI border that it, alone of all the international borders in the world, can be left uncontrolled without any structures or arrangements to avoid the problems to which an uncontrolled border gives rise?
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:34 AM
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Glasgow is not an English provincial city. Do not make this mistake in the wrong company. I'll say no more than that.
I was pretty sure I wrote Scottish, but point stands in brackets, but apparently not.

I accept my punishment.

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UK position is that they will maintain the CTA and, for once, I think they mean this and will implement it.
The Brexit issue was/is full of things the UK Government sincerely inteded to do, but which proved impossible.

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The problem this creates is that it presents an opportunity for, e.g. a Polish citizen to enter the UK without any control or even knowledge on the part of the UK authorities. But in practical reality this is not a huge problem because Polish citizen will be able to enter the UK very easily anyway - there will be visa-free entry for EU citizens.
Its not just EU Citizens. If I was a people smuggler, this would be the method by which I would go. Anyone who the Irish deem admissisable is now de facto able to enter the UK. Unless the Irish agree to the British having a veto over Irish border policy....is that workable, with 30,000 British soldiers invading Ireland?

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What Brexit UK wants is not to stop, or even apply much control on, EU citizens entering the UK, but on EU citizens settling in the UK - becoming resident there, taking up jobs, etc. But they don't intend to do this through border controls; rather, they will use in-country controls. EU citizens will be able to enter the country with minimal cost, delay or formality and in practice without their entry even being recorded, but in order to rent a flat, put their kids in school, register with a GP practice, take a job, etc they will have to demonstrate that they have an appropriate citizenship/migration status giving them a right of abode in the UK. Migration law enforcement will be largely outsourced to schools, doctors, employers etc, who themselves will exposed to penalties if they do not co-operate in implementing the rules.

Is this practicable? Will it work effectively? Will it be politically acceptable to UK citizens who will now have to produce papers proving their status in order to do everyday things? Is this what they fought the War for? Are the words "Windrush scandal" galloping towards this conversation at breakneck speed? All good questions, but they are not made more pressing or acute by the continuation of the CTA. What the UK intends to do in this regard is not incompatible with the continuation of the CTA, and if what they intend to do proves impracticable it won't be made practicable by terminating the CTA.
I can answer the work effectivly bit easily....hell no. The level of knowledge the average layman has on immigration matters is practically zero. I have lost count of how many times I had to explain to friends and collegaues that I couldn't just hop across on a whim to Europe like they could, I needed a visa, and no last time I joined them on the sudden trip because I had a then active visa, no the fact I looked like a decent educated chap would cut no ice would border agents, they were not nightclub bouncers, no ECHR didn't apply here, equality provisions would be of no help (I seriously wish I was joking about the last one).

What will happen is that some people will. Too many will just not be bothered and keep their head down, after all Mr Kowalski is a lovley chap, why should the Home Office have any issue, no need for the fuss?

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So, of the three kinds of controls on the UK/Irish border that might be threatened by Brexit - migration, fiscal, regulatory - I think migration controls are the least likely to eventuate, and if they do it will not be for some time. As matters stand the other two are certain to eventuate, and quite quickly.
I would disagree, migration will PDQ. A person who is in Ireland is in the UK for all practical purposes. Thats going to have an impact very quickly in the minds of politicians. Ireland had a 900 mile lomg coastleine and a few leaky patrol boats....so a migrant vessel could pretty easily enter into a deserted beach at night and be in the UK in the morning.

1) Would Ireland be willing to spend the billion of pounds needed to get the survilliance, air and maritime assets needed to properly interdict?
2) In the alternative, would Ireland be willing to let the RN and RAF police its air and maritime frontiers?
3) If none of the above are acceptable, would the British Government be happy to raise controls between N Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom?


Is it me or have they not thought Brexit through?
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:43 AM
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....is that workable, with 30,000 British soldiers invading Ireland?
That should read, without 30,000 British soldiers invading Ireland?
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:15 AM
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The Brexit issue was/is full of things the UK Government sincerely inteded to do, but which proved impossible.
Very true. But I thinkk this may be one of the less impossible things they intend.

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Its not just EU Citizens. If I was a people smuggler, this would be the method by which I would go. Anyone who the Irish deem admissisable is now de facto able to enter the UK.
And vice versa. But that's the case right now. And Brexit changes it only for EU citizens, which is what we are concerned about.

At present, a citizen of Umbrellastan who can enter Ireland can also enter the UK, and vice versa. This doesn't imperil the CTA because Ireland and the UK, as a matter of policy, keep their visa policies and requirements closely aligned. They're not identical, but they are similar enough that the degree of "leakage" facilitated by the CTA is acceptable to both countries. If a citizen of the UK would face restrictions on entering the UK directly, he will likely find that he faces the same restrictions entering Ireland. And vice versa.

And, post Brexit, with regard to non-EU countries, nothing need change. The arrangements that have worked to sustain the CTA up to now can continue. Except for EU citizens - Ireland won't adopt policies which parallel any restrictions that the UK chooses to impose on EU citizens. So this presents an opportunity for Poles, Romanians, etc that it is unlikely to present for Umbrellastanis.

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I can answer the work effectivly bit easily....hell no. The level of knowledge the average layman has on immigration matters is practically zero. I have lost count of how many times I had to explain to friends and collegaues that I couldn't just hop across on a whim to Europe like they could, I needed a visa, and no last time I joined them on the sudden trip because I had a then active visa, no the fact I looked like a decent educated chap would cut no ice would border agents, they were not nightclub bouncers, no ECHR didn't apply here, equality provisions would be of no help (I seriously wish I was joking about the last one).

What will happen is that some people will. Too many will just not be bothered and keep their head down, after all Mr Kowalski is a lovley chap, why should the Home Office have any issue, no need for the fuss?
I would defer to your superior knowledge and experience about this, except that I don't need to; I think you're right. But it's not the continuation of the CTA that's going to put pressure on the UK's intended method of enforcing restrictions on EU citizens; it's going to be some combination of outrage at the impositions that everybody will suffer, even normal people!, and outrage at the Windrush-type scandals that will unfold.

And if the UK does have to change course, the change won't involve adopting migration controls at the land border in Ireland. That's frankly impossible; they have never succeeded in doing that. They'll police migration rules at the sea and air crossings between NI and GB. That's what they have done before, when they needed to do something of the kind. NI Unionists will be outraged, but frankly they have pretty much exhausted their political capital on Brexit-related matters.

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I would disagree, migration will PDQ. A person who is in Ireland is in the UK for all practical purposes. Thats going to have an impact very quickly in the minds of politicians. Ireland had a 900 mile lomg coastleine and a few leaky patrol boats....so a migrant vessel could pretty easily enter into a deserted beach at night and be in the UK in the morning.
As pointed out, that's the case right now, and yet it doesn't appear to be happening on any scale. Or at all, as far as I can see - have any migrant vessels at all arrived in Ireland? Is there any reason to think that it will happen on a greater scale after Brexit? Why would it?

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1) Would Ireland be willing to spend the billion of pounds needed to get the survilliance, air and maritime assets needed to properly interdict?
2) In the alternative, would Ireland be willing to let the RN and RAF police its air and maritime frontiers?
3) If none of the above are acceptable, would the British Government be happy to raise controls between N Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom?

Is it me or have they not thought Brexit through?
Well, as I say, I think you're jumping at shadows here. The arrangements that currently operate seem to be effective at keeping third country migrants from using Ireland as a back door to the UK on any scale, and no aspect of Brexit requires any change to those arrangements. Brexit only presents an issue in regard to EU citizens exercising their free movement rights to enter Ireland, and then travelling on to the UK, despite the fact that they no longer have free movement rights in the UK. (Which I think is the only Brexit-driven change that is relevant to the CTA.)

But, if I'm wrong about this, the answer to your third question (controls between NI and GB) is "yes". The UK has done this before, when they felt it was required; there is no reason at all to think that they would not do it again.

Last edited by UDS; 09-11-2019 at 04:18 AM.
  #45  
Old 09-11-2019, 10:08 AM
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Ireland had a 900 mile lomg coastleine and a few leaky patrol boats....so a migrant vessel could pretty easily enter into a deserted beach at night and be in the UK in the morning.

1) Would Ireland be willing to spend the billion of pounds needed to get the survilliance, air and maritime assets needed to properly interdict?
2) In the alternative, would Ireland be willing to let the RN and RAF police its air and maritime frontiers?
3) If none of the above are acceptable, would the British Government be happy to raise controls between N Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom?
The fact that the UK lies in between Ireland and the usual departure points from the continent, and is the desired destination anyway, rather renders the question otiose.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:17 AM
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As regards the CTA, it was (and remains) a necessary component of the independence treaty of 1921/2. Otherwise thousands of people of Irish heritage in the UK (and especially in Northern Ireland) might have found themselves suddenly declared foreigners, or forced to choose between Irish and British citizenship. Irrespective of their personal opinions on the independence question or the tactics of the Sinn Fein of the day, that was simply impracticable (indeed in NI it might very well have led to substantial efforts at "ethnic cleansing" - there were periodic "burn them out" episodes in Belfast as it was).

So for nearly 100 years, Irish citizens have had the right of free movement, settlement, and even the right to vote in the UK. The Home Office has enough trouble trying to sort out the residence permits of other EU citizens in the UK with only 40 years of common history: attempting to undo longstanding Irish rights in the UK would be beyond any reasonable government. I suppose I wouldn't put it past some people on the Brexit side to try, but it's just not going to happen.
  #47  
Old 09-11-2019, 10:21 AM
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The fact that the UK lies in between Ireland and the usual departure points from the continent, and is the desired destination anyway, rather renders the question otiose.
Yes because no one has ever taken a longer route to avoid patrols...
Going to check every Tramp steamer going to the Western approaches?
  #48  
Old 09-11-2019, 08:01 PM
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Yes because no one has ever taken a longer route to avoid patrols...
Going to check every Tramp steamer going to the Western approaches?
My question remains: if they don't need to do this now, why would they need to do it after Brexit?
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:05 PM
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A hard border would be an economic disaster for both sides. I don't think anyone is seriously contemplating it.
You are correct.

Boris Johnson is contemplating it, but your statement is still correct. (I thought this would be a Brexit thread.)

I heard (probably 20 years ago now) that the Catholic percentage in Northern Ireland is still rising, and NI will eventually become Catholic (and presumably join Ireland). But is that still true?
  #50  
Old 09-11-2019, 09:07 PM
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I heard (probably 20 years ago now) that the Catholic percentage in Northern Ireland is still rising, and NI will eventually become Catholic (and presumably join Ireland). But is that still true?
The Wikipedia article on Northern Ireland notes that, as of the 2011 census, it's pretty much a dead heat:
- 41.5% Protestant / Non-Catholic Christian
- 40.8% Roman Catholic
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