Sir Jeffrey’s cunning border plan

The other day, the Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP suggested on twitter :

A country that uses electronic toll tag systems on 11 of its main roads can’t claim there isn’t a technological solution to a Brexit border

Sir Jeffrey’s observation appears to be an attempt to suggest that the problems presented by a post-brexit hard border between the northern and southern jurisdictions within Ireland could be readily solved through the application of appropriate technology.

I was immediately reminded of the following quote, from the first computer scientist, the great Charles Babbage:

On two occasions I have been asked, — “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Babbage’s occasionally acerbic commentary, laced with dry humour, on the tribulations of trying to explain technology to Parliament (from his autobiographical book, “Passages from the Life of a Philosopher” – first published 153 years ago) provide a fascinating insight into how, in many ways, so little has changed over a century and a half, whether it is in dealing with Conservative Party policy positions on internet security, or Jeffrey’s ideas about the capabilities of license plate tagging systems.

Strapped, many of us against our will, to the framework of this gargantuan national effort to deploy the overriding force of a single referendum result in an effort to disprove the veracity of the Dunning-Kruger effect, Sir Jeffrey’s invocation of a solution he does not understand, to solve a problem whose scope and detail has not been defined, is archetypal of the era within which we find ourselves. Certain politicians, gleefully addressing themselves to vandalising the delicate political institutions and agreements that have led to the current stable architecture of western Europe, urge the public to either ignore the problems; ignore the experts; or place their faith in the magical imaginary black boxes with single-sentence specifications which are purported to solve the fundamentally political problems of their own design.

The issue under discussion surrounds the Irish government’s frustrated comments on what, exactly, the position of the UK is with respect to the Irish border. If the UK leaves the customs union and the free trade area, and along with this abandons freedom of movement, the result will be a kind of border that has no historical precedent on this island.

If you accept the proposition, on face value, that the referendum result was a call for a reduction in immigration and foreign labour, and a desire for better control over borders in order to deal with security threats and to allow dangerous individuals to be deported more easily, then the UK arguably must pursue a hard border to give effect to the result of the referendum. “taking back control”, as a concept, cannot be meaningful if the UK does not assert control over the movement of people, vehicles and goods over its borders. The political rhetoric in the UK around the referendum result and the need to respect the will of the people creates minefields for any politician seen to be somehow subverting that will.

But in practice, even at a glance, this is clearly going to be an incredibly difficult and expensive problem to solve. The Irish border is approximately 250-300 miles long, and there must be in the order of 300 road crossing points (I counted 100 points where a road crosses the border between Newry around to Clones before giving up – things get particularly crazy just southwest of Clones, where you will cross the border 4 times in a row driving along the same main road). There are also numerous watercourses and lakes which straddle the border. It is a smuggler’s paradise. Even in its soft, relatively inoffensive, form, the border is exploited by paramilitary smugglers trafficking illicit diesel and cigarettes, apparently beyond the capability of HMRC to seriously disrupt their activities.

When you consider all of these issues, and account for the fact that the scenario in March 2019 will lie somewhere along a very broad spectrum between full common market and customs union membership to isolation under a WTO-determined trade regime, it should become obvious that a faith-based initiative involving technological solutions that don’t exist yet might not be sufficient to turn the trick.

Mr Donaldson made specific reference to the Irish road tolling system. Number plate recognition, used for some Irish tolls (also used in London to manage the Congestion Charge), can only tell you that a vehicle with a given registration travelled past a certain point at a certain time. By itself, it can’t tell you anything else about the vehicle – the make/model, the owner, the tax or test status. It can’t even tell you if the vehicle is stolen. That information comes from other databases, and they may or may not be available across jurisdictional boundaries. A stolen car crossing the border will not be flagged up unless that information has been shared. Extensive sharing of vehicle and criminal justice databases, in both directions, would be required.

Having solved the problem of database sharing, the next practical obstacle is the need to install these systems at every border crossing point. With those camera sites in place – 300 or so of them, many of them along roads that are barely more than dirt tracks – an expensive strategy would need to be in place to address disruption to the cameras. Criminals could, for example, arrange to cut the power of a camera, or otherwise damage it, in advance of trying to move illicit goods; or they could, even more simply, arrange to cover their number plates when they’re in the vicinity of a camera.

Then, if you somehow solve those problems, you’re still back at the point where you only know about the movement of vehicles. It’s impossible to know about the movement of the vehicle’s contents, or people within vehicles, although cameras are becoming available which can make a good attempt at counting the number of occupants in a vehicle (although tinted windows or other obstruction may prove a difficulty).

Trying to track people is even harder. I’ve yet to hear a coherent solution to the problem of how the UK will control who accesses its territory, which was a fundamental leg of the Leave campaign. The United States has thrown significant financial resources into trying to solve a similar problem – albeit on a much larger scale – with limited success. Mass deportations and raids do not seem to have the desired effect. Without some kind of clear evidence of intent to commit serious crime, I do not see how European authorities can lawfully justify tracking citizens leaving their own jurisdiction to enter the UK.

The usual answer on tracking people involves a system of work permits. This will certainly discourage compliant employers from hiring anyone who is not allowed to work in the country. But it doesn’t prevent the hiring of illegal workers. The concept of illegal labour is almost alien in the UK, since we’ve such a ready supply of skilled and unskilled European labour that it is a category that simply barely exists, to the extent that it has occurred to very few of us as a possibility. That will all change when the labour market becomes constricted. At that point, the open border will become a clear pathway for illegal labourers to enter the UK without being detected, even if they have been deported.

Bereft of practical solutions to these problems, the DUP and the Leave camp are left dismissing the concerns of “whinging remoaners” and repeating simplistic assertions which they hold onto in the manner of a drunk clinging to a whiskey bottle. The ultimate logical conclusion of the amateurish proposals they’re floating is to turn the UK, or at least this part of it, into a surveillance dominated database state where every object for sale or purchase and every citizen or visitor movement is tracked, a development which Sir Jeffrey, to his credit, appears to have an honourable record of opposing in Parliament.

It’s a high stakes game, in an environment where volatile public opinion surrounding fears on terrorism and immigration may well translate into a form of second class status for Northern Ireland’s British citizens, who could find themselves having to prove their nationality and declare their goods at ports and airports within their own country. It’s tempting to laugh it off, but this possibility is serious enough that several senior DUP politicians issued public warnings to the Government against it, and it must yet be serious still that the Government have refused to publicly rule it out.

A workable approach to avoid all of this while giving effect to the referendum result is to retain membership of the Customs Union and the Single Market. It’s high time the DUP and the other parts of the brexit camp got serious not only about the limits on what can be achieved when the UK departs the EU, but also the unpalatable risks to the status of British citizens in Northern Ireland, and the consequences that arise from interfering with the status of all the citizens in Northern Ireland, including those who identify as other than British. It’s not unreasonable to ask that they should be willing to meet the rest of us halfway. I hope that moment comes before it is too late.

  • Reader

    Pang: BREAKING NEWS: 3000 jobs created on Irish border fixing Jeffrey Donaldson’s cameras.
    Since the cameras would be in the 26 counties you will probably want to know if the EU taxpayers will maintain them or will it all be down to the Irish taxpayer? How does it normally work on the fringes of the EU?
    At that, though, probably cheaper than building and guarding customs posts.

  • john millar

    “to unsavoury types entering Britain, they must surely opt for the God-given, natural border between the two lands?”

    If they felt that waythey would end teh CTA and treat the Irish like the aliens they are.

    You ignore the protection the Irish Sea affords you at your peril yet, I
    fear, Unionism will, once again, cut its nose to spite its face.

    As long as NI is in the UK there can be no border in the Irish sea between NI and GB How would it operate? who would have the power to collect duties etc from UK goods arriving in another part of the UK ?

    “Blighty is attacked by people who waltzed through to them via a ridiculous land frontier on the island of Ireland.”

    And how will they arrive to waltz?

    The “Irish Sea frontier gambit” is another attempt tto further detach NI from the UK for fiscal reasons alone it can`t fly.

  • john millar

    “The additional point is that anyone denied a visa to enter the UK can
    simply enter via the NI border, provided they are already in the EU.”
    And then where will they go -on the dole?

  • john millar

    “As the pound weakens, oil and other input costs will rise in price, and
    you will see significant inflation, which will be followed up by rises
    in interest rates.”

    Likely but the kicker -the pound weakens” will exacebate the problem for the EC/ROI The depreciation of sterling is the classic British answer to economic problems the 4 US dollars to the pound of the 1940s has fallen to circa 1.25 The Euro from 50p to near par at times. Its the British way and wht they never joined the Euro

  • john millar

    See above -devaluation is the British way its why they never joined the EURO

  • Georgie Best

    Not even the DUP can explain that, I suspect.

  • Georgie Best

    The article raises real issues, please respond with solutions to these rather than accusations about the author.

  • john millar

    “Guinness don’t pay duty on any product that is sent North to be packaged
    and then sent south for sale in the South or export via Dublin.”

    Most Guiness sent north is consumed north

    Any sent back ifor consumption in the ROI is accounted for duty by Guinness in the ROI

    REMOVALS properly confirmed are tax free in the state of consignment

    The term EXPORT refers only to goods removed from the EC

  • Georgie Best

    There will be no such blockage,hardly any border road in County Armagh was blocked for any significant period of time in the troubles.

  • john millar

    “almost right.
    CTA, Schengen, other.”

    When/if th frontier moves to the Irish sea the common travel area is no longer required so it is in fact

    British
    EU
    Other

    A shorther queue for the natives

  • Dónall

    Freedom to work and travel hopefully. I think it is still up to the Irish Government who they do and do not allow into the country. Perhaps financial institutes like the Bank of America will be bringing their staff with them to Dublin. Schengen has no bearing in the UK or Irland however so I don’t see why there would be a need for a Schengen line in UK airports. Austria for example havn’t signed up to the Schengen agreement.

  • jimbob622

    Maybe it is time for the British people in Northern Ireland to start accepting the fact that they live in Ireland and not Britain.

  • Georgie Best

    Nobody is trying to detach NI from the UK, we are happy to have it continue to have its present status. Why are you not willing just to leave things alone?
    But there are models, like the Isle of Man, of places semi detached from the UK tax structure. And while the Isle of Man isn’t in the UK, it is not independent either, its people are British subjects.

  • Dónall

    Would the common travel area not be needed for Irish people who live and work in the Britain and Welsh, English, Scottish that live and work in Ireland?

  • Dónall

    AS well as those that travel to work in Britain

  • Georgie Best

    Can’t have that, now. Reality is not acceptable.

  • Dónall

    Geographical realism would soon kick in upon the implementation of a hard border. We are subject to tight security already when travelling to Britain – to be hemmed in at both sides would be a grim prospect.

  • Sean Danaher

    Indeed the four sugar beet factories in Carlow, Thurles, Mallow and Tuam were a source of pride in the early years of the Republic and the first computer in Ireland was bought for the Thurles factory in 1957. There is some effort going into reviving the Irish beet industry

  • Georgie Best

    The Euro was 90p+ in 2009, when there was a lot of 26 county people shopping in Newry. Since then UK inflation has been 20% while Irish inflation has been 4%, so there are no bargains in Newry now.

    NI is a poorer place and will always have lower prices than Dublin, but as Sterling devalues inflation will largely equalise most prices.

  • john millar

    “But there are models, like the Isle of Man, of places semi detached from
    the UK tax structure. And while the Isle of Man isn’t in the UK, it is
    not independent either, its people are British subjects.”

    I suggest you look at the IOM operation
    http://www.isleofman.com/about-the-isle-of-man/taxation/

    If NI operated on teh same model the ROI would have fits

  • Georgie Best

    The Isle of Man did not wish to join the EU, if it did I’m sure a mechanism could have been found.

    Give NI sufficient legal personality on trade matters for this purpose then. You can have all Ireland bodies regulating some of these matters, whatever is convenient.

  • Georgie Best

    We don’t need the IOM model, we need a model that suits NI and is independent of GB rather than a model that pretends that geography does not exist.

  • Oggins

    Apologies,

    Guinness products for the south and export that are packaged in the north, pay only duty in the south. So Budweiser packed in Belfast for ROI pays only duty in ROI.

    However
    NI Guinness beer products is about 20% of the packaging site volume whilst the rest is ROI and foreign exports. Yes in terms of Foreign the products are for outside the EU.

  • Roger

    IOM could not be a member. That requires statehood.
    IOM could have had EU law apply to it as Gibraltar does. But like Gibraltar, with Brexit it can’t have EU law apply to it anymore. No ifs or buts. It’s that simple.
    You can advocate independence for UKNI. After independence it could apply to join. That’s not on any agenda.

  • john millar

    “Would the common travel area not be needed for Irish people who live and work in the Britain and Welsh, English, Scottish that live and work in Ireland?”

    Border now Irish sea no need for CTA which is a function of partition. Entry requirements to “Ireland” a matter for “Ireland”

    “When/if the frontier moves to the Irish sea the common travel area is no longer required ”

    For entry to GB English Welsh and Scots ( and NI residents who hold UK passports ) being British citizens will be in the British queue– all being well “A shorther queue for the natives”
    Other passport holders over there . ( Hint- there is already segregation of queues at airports)

  • Roger

    That would not work. Gib is out when Brexit happens.

  • john millar

    See above

  • Dónall

    This is of course all hypothetical but when I said Irish citizens I was talking about the whole of Ireland

  • Damien Mullan

    You are again at sea in relation to economic developments in the Republic.

    Just like with the onset of BEPS, corporations are tiding their positions in Ireland, making permanent changes to their balance sheets and corporate structure in Ireland. This is due to the October 2014 announcement for Budget 2015, that the so called ‘Double Irish’, would be closed to new entrants, and the tax incentive measure would be closed for existing benefactors in 2020. I again need to stress this to you, these are permanent changes to the stock of capital within Ireland. Again, these corporate inversions have also to meet the requirements of BEPS too, i.e. they must have significant operations within country.

    “Tax inversions have in recent years been driven by pharmaceutical firms and because many of the largest firms have their European head offices based in Munster, the focus has fallen on some of the largest employers in Cork.”

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/business/features/analysisinversions-again-haunt-irelands-tax-regime-378334.html

    “The Government will move today to close the “double Irish” corporate tax mechanism to new entrants from January 2015 but multinational firms will be allowed to keep existing schemes until the end of 2020.

    Beneficiaries of the “double Irish” include major technology groups such as Google and a number of large pharmaceutical firms.”

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/budget-to-end-double-irish-tax-scheme-1.1962188

    I don’t know how you made the connection of GDP growth and unemployment. Spain had growth in GDP in 2016 of 3.2%, very robust, yet an average unemployment rate in 2016 of 19.5%. How do you explain that? You explain that with the fact that employment is rising and the unemployment rate has been steadily falling. Exactly the same in Ireland. In which the unemployment rate has fall from a peak high of 15% in 2012, to 6.4% for July of this year, it has ticked up in July from June’s low of 6.3%, because of an increase in the labour participation rate, i.e., people have re-entered the labour market looking for work because the prospects of getting employment have massively improved, as well as an increase in net inward immigration, people are returning who left during the crisis years as well as new people altogether. This is born out by CSO figures through the National Household Survey that deciphers the size of those in employment, it reach it’s lowest in 2012 at 1.8 million people employed, the first quarter of 2017 puts that figure at 2.04. There have been 250,000 jobs created since the low of 2012. That amounts to some 50,000 jobs created each year over the past 5 years.

    “There was an annual increase in employment of 3.5% or 68,600 in the year to the first quarter of 2017, bringing total employment to 2,045,100. This compares with an annual increase of 3.3% or 65,100 in employment in the previous quarter and an increase of 2.4% or 46,900 in the year to Q1 2016.

    The increase in total employment of 68,600 in the year to Q1 2017 was represented by an increase in full-time employment of 84,200 (+5.5%) and a decrease in part-time employment of 15,600 (-3.4%).”

    http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/qnhs/quarterlynationalhouseholdsurveyquarter12017/

  • Zeno

    Is there any chance you could keep your replies a little more concise. I really don’t have the time to wade through them.
    I’ll answer one part.
    “I don’t know how you made the connection of GDP growth and unemployment”
    GDP is being held up as a measurement of wealth. It isn’t.
    If Ireland was truly wealthy it wouldn’t have the unemployed, poverty and low production rates it currently experiences.

  • Aodh Morrison

    That attempted “acquisition”of which you speak, more properly defined as a hostile takeover, has been ongoing for many years.

    The cost in blood and treasure has been immense. I doubt LEDU would offer any grants to fund its continuance.

  • Brian Kann

    Completely agree. You get the impression that it is maybe not his passion or something he wants to talk about given the personal aspect. A something game, perhaps, if true.

  • Damien Mullan

    Please provide evidence for ‘unemployment, poverty and low production’.

    Given every country has unemployed people that’s a misnomer, plus the Irish rate of 6.4%, is just one percentage point from what is technically termed as full employment, usually classed as between 5% and 6%.

    Even using the GNI per capita for Ireland in 2013, during the depths of the crisis, that’s 4 years ago, which has since seen rapid recovery, Irish GNI per capita for 2013 came in at €32,032. Giving the more generous GDP measurement for Northern Ireland in 2016, came in at €23,700. There is poverty for you.

    http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-mip/measuringirelandsprogress2013/economy/economy-finance/

    The export figures contradict your ‘low production’.

    “Irish exports reached record levels in 2016, according to the Central Statistics Office, despite a drop shipments to Britain.

    Export values rose 4% to €116.9 billion last year, according to the figures, with most sectors enjoying growth in the period.

    At the same time import values fell by 0.7% to €69.6 billion – leaving the country with a trade surplus of €47.3 billion, up 11.9% year on year.

    The export figures were boosted by a 150% rise in electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances shipments, with values there hitting €7.3 billion in 2016.

    Exports of organic chemicals also saw a significant rise, up 10% to almost €2.17 billion in the year.”

    https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2017/0215/852848-record-export-cso/

  • Zeno
  • Damien Mullan

    You are arguing, and the article appears to be suggesting, that Intellectual Property for instance, is of no economic value, when I have evidenced from Irish corporate tax receipts, that indeed, they are of value. An intake of tax suggests economic activity, and certainly the spending of those tax receipts by the Irish government, suggests economic activity.

    This article proves only the globalized nature of the Irish economy. It does not in anyway refute the CSO, Eurostat, any financial institution the world over, analysis of Irish low and falling unemployment, Irish low poverty, or the high export and productive performance of the Irish economy.

    The article sights GDP, but provides no analysis on either BEPS or the ending of the, so called, ‘Double Irish’. In fact, going over the article again, it merely states that because the GDP is high, it is therefore wrong. That’s the whole argument, not a single portion of evidence of any statistical value from any statistical body, either public or private, is sighted. I quote you, the CSO, Eurostat, RTE, The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner.

    You perhaps ought to read these articles first before posting them.

  • james

    Erm…..but we don’t live in Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

    What you’ve just written is as daft as saying ‘the people of Portugal must accept that they live in Spain’.

    Daft and arrogant comment.

  • james

    One doesn’t travel to ‘Britain’ from NI – one merely travels to Great Britain’.

  • john millar

    “Yet, all illegals have to do is walk across the border into the UK and you dont see a problem.”

    Illegal where ? in the ROI ?how did they get there?
    In the NI ? good luck to them -join the dole/housing benefit queue ?
    In GB how will they get there— swim?

  • NewSouthernMan

    A realistic deal is already clear.

    There WILL be a border in the irish Sea. MI6 and the EU will demand it but it will be dressed up as something else. There will be some nominal checkpoints along the irish border, just to keep unionists happy, but everyone else will turn a blind eye.

    I wish I could invest in the smuggling business! It’s got a bright future.

  • Dónall

    Northern Ireland (note the noun and preceding adjective) is indeed in Ireland as well as being governed by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (Great) Britain is the Roman name of the island situated between Hibernia (Ireland) and Europe. Ireland proper was never part of this. You could perhaps argue from the English perspective that Ireland both north and south is in the British Isles (a term rarely used in Ireland) but you would still have to concede that Northern Ireland is located on an island called Ireland.

  • Reader

    Dónall: Schengen has no bearing in the UK or Ireland however so I don’t see why there would be a need for a Schengen line in UK airports
    You were talking about queues in Departures, weren’t you? In which case, it would matter whether each passenger has the right to travel in the Schengen area if that is where the plane was going. Certainly more humane to do any necessary checks in Departures than waiting to do the checks in Arrivals. It also slows down unwanted migration.

  • Dónall

    The case of Spain and Portugal is completly different they are countries situated on a penninsula called Iberia. Both countries are in Iberia however they have seperate governments just as both Ireland (Republic of) and Northern Ireland are on the insula Ireland but are part of seperate juristictions. The fact that Spain and Portugal were never part of the same country makes their case even more different. Ireland was partitioned in 1922 this is why people talk of a United Ireland (even Unionists) and the Church of Ireland and Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland are called thus.

  • Reader

    Trasna:Yet, all illegals have to do is walk across the border into the UK and you dont see a problem.
    Correct, so far as EU citizen illegals would ever be a problem, the border wouldn’t stop them anyway. EU citizens will be able to fly into London on cheap flights, visit Madame Tussauds then compete for jobs in the black economy.
    Why an EU citizen would rather work illegally in the UK rather than work legally in Dublin or Paris has still not been explained.
    Why the UK government would be particularly concerned that an illegally working restaurant kitchen porter is Hungarian rather than Ethiopian has also not been explained.
    It’s all just a numbers game; the UK government isn’t going to spend the money required to turn the immigration quagmire into an immaculate bureaucratic wonderland. Even the current Cabinet isn’t that stupid. They are going to work with incentives and deterrents, not 150 mile concrete walls.

  • Dónall

    I have just discovered that there was a brief period of Iberian Unity from 1580-1640 (60 years).

  • Reader

    Dónall: The fact that Spain and Portugal were never part of the same country makes their case even more different.
    Yes, they were part of the same country.

  • Dónall

    Yeah I have just found that out Reader mea culpe. 1580-1640 by the looks of things. The whole pennisula was probably occupied by the Romans also and possibly the Moores reigned over the Pennisula.

  • Georgie Best

    While it is fair to criticise Irish GDP, and Irish living standards are not two-thirds higher than UK as GDP suggests. However, Irish unemployment is not 7.8% but 6.4% and does not “remain high” as it falls every month because production of goods and services is increasing. Indeed for many in NI working in the ROI will be their only possibility of prosperity.

  • Dónall

    No I was talking about arrivals. Are you recommending a pre-clearance model for Britain?

  • the rich get richer

    You should only be allowed to cross the bored if you can sing the Sash and Amhrainn na Bhiann , Danny boy and dance like Michael flatly in an Orange Sash and Bowler Hat…….

    That aughta do it…….

  • Kevin Breslin

    Devaluation is the British way!

    Take no offence while we flaucinaucipilificate Brexit then, we’re only just trying to adopt your culture!

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Common Travel Area is just another Bargaining chip for the British people. Just like Customs, Just like Northern Ireland …

  • Kevin Breslin

    My use of Gibraltar’s “special status” was ironic … as a colony not tied to United Kingdom.

    Perhaps Northern Ireland should opt for colonial status, rather than be tied constitutionally to a nation who’s customs and travel laws they can no longer enforce without stirring up domestic trouble.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Hardly a hostile takeover, the pirates can’t plunder the South or the North for booty any more.

    It’s like the Romans leaving Britain to the Anglo-Saxons, the Brits can’t afford Northern Ireland AND Brexit … one has to go.

  • murdockp
  • john millar

    “This is of course all hypothetical but when I said Irish citizens I was talking about the whole of Ireland”
    And I was reminding you that the residents of “ireland” include a largish proportion of Brtitish Citizens who would join the “british queue”

  • J Vance

    Indeed, on closer examination, the free state is as economically moribund as Ulster.

  • Roger

    Colonial status…with whom being the coloniser?
    It would have to be an EU member state…Maybe The Netherlands? William of Orange connections…

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: The Common Travel Area is just another Bargaining chip for the British people.
    Both governments have expressed complete commitment to retaining the CTA. That doesn’t fit the profile of a bargaining chip.

  • Reader

    eamoncorbett: Good luck with that idea , but I’ve no doubt it will be mooted.
    Hold that thought. Then, in the unlikely event that it actually comes true, you will be able to complain all about it twice. A twoofer, I think the Americans call it.

  • Aodh Morrison

    Oh dear, seems that the ‘respect’ memo hasn’t filtered through to you.

  • jimbob622

    I didn’t say Northern Ireland is not in the UK. Spain and Portugal are not relevant to the conversation so I struggle to see why you make either of those points. If you live in Northern Ireland you live in a part of Ireland (the clue being in the name). You do not live in Britain. A border running through the island for the sake of pandering to unionist delusions is frankly ridiculous.

  • NotNowJohnny

    That’s pretty much irrelevant to the issue in question. The point is that NI is not a region like Wales or Yorkshire. It is anything but.

  • Oggins

    Theory based on what?

    Sorry to say, nor matter what happens with the border, hard, soft or wobbly, you will still have plenty of people to continue their relationship with the south, be it Culture, business, sport or social. Statements such as a closer relationship with Ireland more remote, is fantasy

  • Roger

    I think a standard thing here on Slugger is to post a comment disagreeing with something another person didn’t say….So of course, I didn’t suggest there would not be plenty of people in UKNI who will continue their relationship with Ireland. That sounds very dramatic indeed.

    You’ve asked me what “my theory” is based on. As it’s only mine, it’s just based on my perceptions and judgment and I offer it for others to judge.

    You spoke about “fantasy” too. Right now, Ireland and the United Kingdom are in an economic union called the single market. They are also in a partial political union too, which is another element to the European Union. From the end of March 2017, the two states won’t be. I suggest that it is indeed “fantasy” to think this won’t change things; this won’t interfere with the UKNI region having a closer relationship with Ireland.

    UKNI’s relationship with Ireland is not as close as perhaps you might think. Take trade: as compared to mainland UK, Ireland has a very distant relationship with UKNI indeed. Brexit won’t enhance prospects for that relationship getting closer. Quite the reverse.

  • Roger

    Original Post: If little Malta can handle membership why not NI. Of course they could piggy back on the Dublin institutions, but that would not be acceptable to unionists.

    My response: Because UKNI isn’t a state. It’s that simple. UKNI is a UK region like Wales or Yorkshire.

    What seems to be the conclusions: I was absolutely right. You’ve agreed with me that there is no possibility of UKNI being a member state, given it’s a UK region. As compared to Wales or Yorkshire, the fact it’s a different size or is on a different island or has more sheep or has a local assembly at Belfast or a High Court is all irrelevant. UKNI isn’t a state.

  • james

    Thing is – and this is in large part due to the nefarious activities of militant Irish Republicans down the decades – Northern Ireland and Ireland are now two very different places. They no longer ‘fit’. So I’m afraid the border is there to stay.

  • Oggins

    Well when some of asks what the theory is based on, usually people offer a bit of facts and reasons, something which you have not provided. So again, what is his based on ? Can you provide facts, or reasons other than what you feel in your own waters.

    I appreciate that people don’t agree with everything posted on slugger, but usually they try to put some reason to it (usually not always) and their is nothing strange for me to ask for this. Particularly when such statements identify it as remote.

    For a poster who is usually quite particular on people to use logic, you still have provided no reason for this. I think this is based on emotion rather than logic.

    In terms of political, we still have the GFA; even though it is not being up held (by all). We still have the agreement of movement of people that was prior the EU. So at the moment, no one politically is saying these will be removed. Yes there are plenty identifying the base of the GFA and the EU, and questioning the valve, but that is a different discussion.

    Again your only focusing on one subject of the the relationship between the North and the South. I have called out several others which you have reviewed. What’s your thoughts on that? Relationships are based on more than trade? Yes brexit is going to have a major effect on our Island. It’s going to cause potential major disruption. What about culture? Do you think those based in the North are going to stop being involved in music, sport and for example going to Dublin for concerts, and fly to England instead? No.

    As someone who crosses the border 2/3 times a week for business (based in Belfast) I will still do so, whatever happens. If it means a series of check points, cameras, or nothing at all, I will still do it. As my job requires it so and our business unit is based on the island and not sovernity borders.

    As someone who follows the Irish rugby team and GAA, will it make my and many others relationship weaker? Hell no!

    The fact that many of us have family both sides of the border, will ensure it will not be weakened.

    In terms of trade, I agree, the stupidity of Brexit can/will/may/should have a major effect on trade. The fact that these Brexiters at the time didn’t even come to meet the people at the border. Meet the Irish businesses in this island to discuss what will happen to trade, shows that the brexitahoka was pure a GB, sorry little England based movement.

    I am sorry your view is purely based on a view point that doesn’t want or see the other elements of the relationship between the North and south. That doesn’t recognise it purely on political opinion.

  • jimbob622

    Not sure what you mean by not fitting. You mean culturally? Half my family is from Donegal and half from Derry, we ‘fit’ very well, there is no discernable difference (we even have the same accents). When in doubt, blame irish republicans lol. You have brought Spain, Portugal and irish republicans into a discussion about the practicality (or otherwise) of the border. You have very strange trains of thought. I suppose one would have to have strange trains of thought to struggle with the notion that Northern Ireland is in Ireland.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The United Kingdom … Another offshore crown dependency like Isle of Man or whatever.

    It wouldn’t be in the EU but at least it would be free from Westminster’s the most draconian version of migration and customs laws.

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    How about a huge wall completely sealed off on both sides? Sounds good to me!

  • Roger

    Sounds like fun. We could once again have a Governor of Northern Ireland…..He could even wear a fancy hat.

  • William Kinmont

    People of Portugal live on Iberian peninsula more relivant comparison. If Northern Ireland was not on the Island of Ireland this Border Brexit debate wouldn’t be on the agenda .Instead we would be debating why our country has such a dam silly name.

  • William Kinmont

    Apart from Rathlin it’s located on Northern Northern Ireland.

  • 05OCT68

    I hope the Brexiters realize that when they get off the plane on the other side that there won’t be three lions, sorry three lines, just two EU or Other.

  • Devil Éire
  • Kevin Breslin

    “A new dispensation will arise”

    Why do I get the feeling that Brexiteers are going to try and fend off trouble chanting empty platitudes and hope the rest of us clean up their nonsense?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Do you always believe what a government tells you?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Or “She” Roger!

  • Kevin Breslin

    What respect memo? Actually I don’t care.

  • Roger

    That sort of stuff I find very dull indeed.

  • james
  • Devil Éire

    What my comment establishes is that both usages of the informal term ‘Britain’ are common. The land area corresponding to the state called ‘Ireland’ is, however, irrelevant, as that is well-defined.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Indeed. And you could just have left it at that. But you didn’t. You had to go on to try and make the point that NI is like Yorkshire or Wales which unionists like to think. As British as Finchley they say. But it isn’t.

  • Roger

    The context was a discussion of EU membership. UKNI is just like Yorkshire or Wales on that front.

    That was the context. Not sheep population or coal industry or High Courts.

  • Zeno

    You’re not a real Nationalist. The rule book says it’s The North of Ireland.