The postwar ID requirement between Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Reading through some old Wikipedia articles pointed me to an interesting exchange in the House of Commons, back in 1948. Ulster Unionist MPs Conolly Gage and Major Samuel Gillmor Haughton rose during an adjournment debate to complain about the requirement for a permit or passport to be presented for travel between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Mr Gage opens by highlighting the inconvenience of this arrangement :

As everyone knows, Ulster is as much a part of the United Kingdom as Devon or Cornwall; yet any person wanting to visit a sick child, or wanting 10 go on urgent business from Belfast to Liverpool, has to obtain a travel permit.

He goes on to complain about the fact that any danger posed by “aliens” to GB is not deemed to be serious when it comes to the welfare of Northern Ireland residents :

There is another matter with regard to this. The control is imposed at the ports of Northern Ireland, and so it is really for the undesirable alien that it is desired to exclude from Great Britain. It does seem rather hard, if they are so undesirable, they we should have to have them in Belfast, because the check gives no protection at all there. It seems absurd that the protection which this check is supposed to afford to Liverpool should be denied to Belfast or any port in Ulster.

Finally, Mr Gage proposes border controls :

I would only point out that the system of a check on the Border is possible. I know it has been difficult to check all contraband on the land frontier as compared with the ports, but if it can be done in the case of smugglers, then it can be done in the case of other people.

It is worth reading the rest of this exchange, not least for reference to Stormont’s “Safeguarding of Employment Act”. Eventually, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Mr Younger, responds. I’ve picked out some of the salient quotes :

I should like to start by emphasising that the restrictions are not really very great. The objection to them is, I think, partly on sentimental or loyalist grounds—that is, an objection to being treated any differently from other persons residing in the United Kingdom. The material objections are not very considerable.

Complaints of delays are dismissed out of hand :

.. but it is not a serious hardship. There is no difficulty caused to anyone who wishes to get these documents and a relatively limited delay is caused by the embarkation system.

Mr Younger goes on to explain the need for the system.

The difference in the positions of the two countries during the war has led to a different attitude on the part of the two governments to certain nationalities, and it is no longer possible to have the same tie-up as there was before the war between the alien policies of the two countries. I would not like to suggest that this is entirely due to the situation in Eire, for we here are in a very special position with regard to aliens. We have a scheme of effecting the admission of Poles and European volunteer workers with which one could not be sure that the Eire Government would wish to be associated, and until there is a community of interest on these questions of aliens, it is difficult to see that there can be as close an identity of aliens policy as before the war.

Finally, the Under-Secretary addresses the issue of establishing checks at the border.

It is suggested that a check could be made on the land frontier. It is perfectly true that Customs control is carried out, but it is a different thing from the sort of control that would be required to prevent the admission of undesirable aliens. I believe the frontier is about 180 miles long, and the check points are relatively few. I happen to know, from my own personal experience, that this was an acute security problem during the war, and an intensive study of the possibility of control was made. At one time, although I do not know if this was confirmed, the commander in Northern Ireland thought he could not have an effective control except with four divisions. That gives some idea of the difficulty. It is perfectly true that many continental countries with long frontiers have to put up with inefficient control, but there is no reason why we should do that when we have a port of embarkation where control can be effected.

This system continued to exist for a full seven years following the war.

I think it’s worth highlighting in the context of the present debate about the options available to the UK government concerning the Irish border. For sure, the scenario that existed in 1945 is very different to what we are facing at the moment. Nonetheless, it is a matter of historical fact that in the past, the British government has seen it fit and convenient to impose identity checks on travellers between the Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It follows that there is no reason why it would not be minded to do so again if it felt the circumstances required it.

 

 

 

Software engineer living and working in greater Belfast. Pragmatic social democrat with the odd leaning towards capitalism. Political interests include economic policy, social and political reform.

Alliance Party member, but writing in a strictly personal capacity.

  • the rich get richer

    Due to Demographics and Brexit and a possible Hard border Northern Ireland will continue to be dysfunctional .

    There must be a border Poll before a maximum of 10 years .

    My personal view is it is time for Westminster to apologise for all the damage they have done in Ireland and leave with as much / little dignity as can be mustered .

    Northern Ireland has been self destructively dysfunctional for its entire existence .

    Its time to stop digging that hole once and for all .

  • Smithborough

    IIRC there was also Stormont legislation preventing GB workers getting jobs in NI without a permit. I think one of the bigger companies discovered this when they tried to transfer their English workers to break a strike. Someone else might recollect the details.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    But you need ID now when travelling by plane (and I’d have no objection to showing my driving licence getting onto the boat either) – that’s not the issue for me, though for people without passport it is a big one. Being asked to get a passport so you can travel 50 miles within your own country? Hmmm – outside of the extremities of a ‘war of national survival’ like WW2, it’s really, really wrong on a civil rights and human rights basis.

    But there are bigger problems for me:
    – the idea of an internal border between NI and Scotland, from a trade point of view, is robbing Peter to pay Paul – and taking about 3 times more from Peter than Paul is due. It makes no rational sense whatsoever:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f7fc882b710be3cf7d658313e8e475a5941d7e33dbd1486ea3125264ddb2a74c.png
    – it plays to the worst old school Irish nationalist prejudice about Ulster British people being supposedly “not really British”, as well as the quite reasonable Ulster British determination not to be treated as second class citizens. The GFA made great strides in jettisoning the old nationalist prejudices about the British population of Northern Ireland and there is no way we should back to the bad old days on that, or even give the appearance of it.
    – all this to maintain the nationalist illusion there is no border between NI and the Republic.

    Perhaps it would all be a bit easier, this, if Irish nationalism had read what it signed up to in 1998 and meant it. It is supposed to accept the legitimacy of the border; it seems some still wish to pretend it doesn’t exist. But the GFA did not do away with the border, it confirmed the democratic and moral basis for it being there, as long as most people in Northern Ireland want it to stay in the UK. It is ridiculous that we are now seriously debating – at Irish and EU behest – putting an internal trade border up inside the UK in order to avoid the appearance of an international border in the place we all agree there actually is one. As they say in Germany, Austria and a lot of Switzerland: “Wahnsinn”.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Remainer, I want the UK to find a way of staying in the EU, I liked the way the Irish border had developed and I also want to get back to that. Failing that I want us to be in a new customs union and the single market with free movement of people so this doesn’t arise. But damaging the bigger east-west axis in order to solve a problem on the north-south axis makes no sense, whether you’re a unionist or not. There are 65 million people over on this side. Crossing the Irish Sea backwards and forwards is as integral to the lives of Northern Irish people as crossing the border is. More so for many of us.

  • Nevin

    “In 1942, in response to fears in Northern Ireland that immigrants from the south might take jobs from the local population, the UK Parliament introduced an Order requiring any resident from Ireland to secure a work permit from the Northern Ireland ministry. This was superseded by the Northern Ireland Parliament’s 1947 Safeguarding of Employment Act, which required all Irish residents to secure a work permit from the Northern Ireland Ministry of Labour. Permits were issued to meet labour requirements in specific industries or areas, and were often refused. The 1948 British Nationality Act granted Irish citizens the same rights as British citizens in relation to employment and freedom of entry, and this remained in force when Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949. But restrictions on the right of Irish residents to work in Northern Ireland only ended in the 1970s when EEC regulations providing for free movement of labour came into force.” .. Mary Daly

  • sparrow

    ‘Being asked to get a passport so you can travel 50 miles within your own country? Hmmm – outside of the extremities of a ‘war of national survival’ like WW2, it’s really, really wrong on a civil rights and human rights basis.’
    Yet you and people like you thought and think that it’s acceptable that Irish citizens should put up with having our own country cut in half by a border at the behest of a minority of citizens on the island?! Your double standards astound me.

  • Interesting to read about how the post war British Government was more liberal than the Irish in allowing immigration from post war Germany and Poland. My mother was one of the thousands of Germans brought from the British zone of occupation to work in Britain. They could stay for 7 years then get British nationality or go back at the expense of the British Government.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I have my grandparents’ WW2-era travel papers somewhere in storage – came across them clearing my mum’s house out last year. A very different era for travel 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Sorry, I thought pretty much the full spectrum of Irish nationalism agreed this in 1998. It doesn’t sound much like “having our own country cut in half by a border at the behest of a minority of citizens on the island” to me, as it was voted for enthusiastically by big majorities of nationalists on both sides of the border:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93221d8c9ffb955eda8f9fd2235f1bc210de0076a4a1cbf5b256e3a7d2a52520.png
    Seems “people like me” includes people like you, perhaps?

  • Georgie Best

    If the “take back control” crowd have any interest in actually doing so then controls when travelling to Britain are inevitable. However, this could be achieved without requiring passports or the like from NI residents, other forms of ID could suffice. The types of ID required to vote in elections is an obvious example, voting is a civil right yet ID can be required, so people can hardly object to similar ID being required to go on a plane.

  • Smithborough

    Yes, but the Safeguarding of Employment Act 1947, I believe, required work permits for everyone outside NI, not just from the Republic. Even GB residents needed a work permit.

  • Lagos1

    It is ridiculous that we are now seriously debating – at Irish and EU
    behest – putting an internal trade border up inside the UK

    Indeed. My only hope with respect to this suggestion is that by having it taken seriously, it would bring the conversation round to the more feasible suggestion of having the South itself remain in a limited form of customs union with GB, perhaps restricted to agrifoods where the UK is by far and away the largest market and where exports to the continent typically pass through GB anyway.

  • runnymede

    This is irrelevant to the issue in dispute, which is about movement of goods, not people.

  • runnymede

    Once again you present the numbers, and once again nationalists will ignore them.

  • runnymede

    No they weren’t serious.

  • Korhomme

    No similar IDs are required to vote in Britain.

  • OneNI

    First point I suspect that 90 per cent of travel to GB from NI And RoI is by plane. All the travel details are shared with the authorities in GB. Everyone entering via air from both jurisdictions is facially screened. Airlines used to insist on photo id from NI and passport for RoI.
    So essentially we are talking about re introducing modest controls on the half dozen ferry routes?

  • Máire

    As someone who was born and lived in Northern Ireland, my children were  also born there, but we currently  live in Ireland, I would just like to make a few comments.
    My parents and family live in Northern Ireland,  I would not like to see a position where we would have to produce a passport just to visit each other daily whilst living just 10 miles apart. 
    One of my children recently thinking of changing jobs applied for a position within Northern Ireland. One of the questions on the application was asked for them to state their religion.  In all the years in Ireland, and many job applications by family members, they were never asked to state their religion. Why was it asked in Northern Ireland?
    When travelling to England I have to get English Sterling. Why is Northern Ireland Sterling not  acceptable in the rest of the UK, considering that Northern Ireland is part of the UK, yet Euro issued in any Eurozone country is acceptable across the whole euro zone.

  • Reader

    Nevin, I can probably lay my hands on a work permit for NI issued to an Englishman in the 60s

  • Georgie Best

    NI is not Britain and should have different arrangements where appropriate.

  • Alastair Rae

    It looks like (optionally) stating your religion appears to be part of NI anti-discrimination laws. https://www.gov.uk/employers-responsibilities-equality-monitoring

  • sparrow

    Like many people, I voted in favour of the GFA in order to remove the guns – British and Irish – from Irish politics. Thankfully, that has largely been achieved. The rest is fluff, as far as I’m concerned. Is there anywhere in that document that offered the people of this island the opportunity to express their views – ‘freely exercised and legitimate’ -on reunification? Why not? Oh that’s right, unionists don’t like that option, or rather, they don’t like the result it would throw up. Even the paragraphs you quote talk about the consent of a majority of people freely expressed, yet anytime anyone on here mentions a border poll on the issue, you turn yourself inside out trying to find reasons why this can’t happen. ‘Democratic unionist’ has to be one of the most oxymoronic (if there’s such a word) terms in the English language.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Is there anywhere in that document that offered the people of this island the opportunity to express their views – ‘freely exercised and legitimate’ -on reunification?”
    Um, yes – the bit I just quoted to you, plus the provision for a referendum if a vote looks worth doing in the opinion of the SoS. Happy to go with what we all agreed in there on border polls. A Labour SoS might want to hold one, in which case bring it on. But for reasons explained, unnecessary border polls are at best a distraction and at worst deeply divisive and playing to the Republican game of seeking to cause maximum discord.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    That was always my suspicion – even though the GFA expressly says it should not be cherry-picked, it is a holistic package. Its fairness rests on that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    all we can do is reduce the space in which untruths can flourish.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think there might be something in that

  • Korhomme

    And yet we are told that NI is as British as Finchley. Of course, saying that doesn’t make it so…

  • Oriel27

    tell me MU, what way does it work when flying or sailing to GB from the North, does one have to show a passport ? (or is it just ID, ive always had my passport on me as ID)

  • Ruairi Murphy

    Where are there untruths? Is anyone advocating for tariffs on trade between NI and GB?

    As usual you are being obtuse.

  • Ruairi Murphy

    Quite the generalisation there.

  • Oriel27

    Hi Maire, im in a similar situation to your children.
    Its part of the Equality and Human Rights Legislation in Northern Ireland Act 1998. Section 75). All employers must ask religion in the interest of equality.
    My company certainly tries to ensure equality across religion.

    I think its great because, thee is now almost 50 % Catholic and 50% Protestants employed in the work force.

    Go back to the 60’s, if you were a catholic (and definitely from the South) you would not have gotten a job in the public sector (private sector catholic employers were monitored by the UDR and intimidated)

    Regarding the Northern money in GB, they would be suspicious of forgery, sure us Paddy’s are all the same when we go to the ‘Mainland’ !

  • Ruairi Murphy

    “Bring it on” – I believe that’s exactly what Arlene said when she claimed McGuiness to be bluffing on the possibility of triggering an Assembly election.

    I would be careful what you wish for. Your arrogance might come back to haunt you some day. There is so much uncertainty over the next number of years that any number of possibilities, good or bad, could arise.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    What percentage state “no” or “other” religion? By your calculation it will be zero.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Arrogance? I think you misunderstand any NI unionist fundamentally if you think any of us feel NI’s status as part of the UK can be taken for granted. We have suffered an awful lot worse for our nationality. We accept our lot is to live with the threat of losing our country, we can’t change that; but we are determined for it not to happen. And I’m personally convinced it never has to.

  • Máire

    I’m well aware of the difficulty of having a certain address when looking for work. Growing up in Northern Ireland and applying for jobs with my address was like hitting a stone wall until a kindly and obliging relative with an address that was not as easy to pigeon hole offered me the use of their address. That’s what I had to do to get my first job
     Not having been exposed to such a question since then, and never since I moved, I was just wondering what the significance of it was. I’m glad things have improved.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The EU would impose tariffs if the UK does not allow free movement of people and is outside the customs union

    From Full Fact, the fact checking charity:
    “If the UK and the EU can’t agree on a specific trade agreement, then trade would take place under World Trade Organisation rules.
    The EU would not be allowed to discriminate against the UK specifically, and we would face the same tariffs that any country without a free trade agreement with the EU would.”
    See: https://fullfact.org/europe/tariffs-and-barriers-trade-between-britain-and-eu/

    They also point out non-tariff barriers will be even more important, potentially. This is why the idea of keeping NI in the single market or customs union on its own creates a major barrier across the Irish Sea and I can only think this is mischievous on the EU’s part, playing politics with Northern Ireland and stoking anti-British feeling in the province. I’ve really been quite surprised at how low they’ve gone already in this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Flying I think it’s just ID, so driving licence is fine. Sailing I don’t think they check at all, but I could be wrong there.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “I voted in favour of the GFA in order to remove the guns – British and Irish – from Irish politics. Thankfully, that has largely been achieved. The rest is fluff, as far as I’m concerned.”
    But you voted for the agreement. And the agreement said, expressly, no cherry-picking.
    The GFA was sent to every household in N Ireland, I still have my dog-eared copy. It’s dog-eared because I have read it, a lot. It is a hugely important document and the basis for politics in N Ireland to this day. I would suggest reading what you signed up to might be a good idea, at least before you accuse those of who stick by it of betraying it.

  • WindowLean

    Are there any sectors not included in those NISRA stats??

  • Nevin

    Yes, Reader, the detail is in the final link.

  • Nevin

    The detail is in the final link, Smithborough.

  • aquifer

    A passenger vehicle with stiffened springs can shift a lot of contraband.

    Lets get practical about this. Stranraer is the place for the physical and risk based customs check needed to back up prior declarations online. Move on.

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    “NI”, a member of the sterling economic area, currently sells more stuff to other members of the sterling area than any where else? Is that genuinely a surprise? This arrangement holds the territory back enormously – as evidenced by the huge subsidies.

  • Smithborough

    Yes it is, thanks.

  • Conall

    Arriving at Cork from Cardiff last August we had no passports. Crowded plane, too much hand luggage. My rucksack got put in the hold. They were quite happy to accept our bus passes! (well they do have a photo)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The UDR? In the 60s? I think you may be altering some facts there

  • Brendan Heading

    I’m afraid you are wrong. The issue of immigration and the right of the UK to have unimpeded control over who could enter the country was a critical matter in the referendum debate.

  • Brendan Heading

    My parents and family live in Northern Ireland, I would not like to see a position where we would have to produce a passport just to visit each other daily whilst living just 10 miles apart.

    I agree with you completely. But this is highly likely to happen if the UK leaves the customs union and the single market, as it has said that it would do. We had a settled arrangement for well over 40 years that avoided this problem, but the UK has decided that it no longer wants this.

    In all the years in Ireland, and many job applications by family members, they were never asked to state their religion. Why was it asked in Northern Ireland?

    This has been a legal requirement since fair employment legislation was brought in in the late 1970s. It is irritating and dated, but is so far the only way that we have to maintain confidence within the workforce that employers are not discriminating when recruiting.

    When travelling to England I have to get English Sterling. Why is Northern Ireland Sterling not acceptable in the rest of the UK, considering that Northern Ireland is part of the UK, yet Euro issued in any Eurozone country is acceptable across the whole euro zone.

    This happens because, where most major countries and currencies authorize only one set of standard banknotes, the UK – unusually – authorizes several banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland to issue their own banknotes. These are AIB UK (via their First Trust brand), Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. In England and Wales, only the Bank of England is authorized to issue notes.

    This problem could be corrected in the morning by the UK government if it so desired, and if I was the government I would act to end it immediately. But I suspect this has not been done due to these banks lobbying to keep the system as they derive income from banknote issuance.

  • Georgie Best

    Given that millions of EU tourists will still come, controls on who works are likely to be more important than one who enters. Hence, the comment about the movement of goods is essentially correct.

  • Brendan Heading

    it’s really, really wrong on a civil rights and human rights basis.

    You’re absolutely right, it certainly is.

    The problem is that nationalists (and some non-nationalists) have the same problem; they can’t accept being stopped and searched, or asked for ID, within what they perceive as their own country. Up until now, we had a solution which meant that nobody got stopped or asked for ID. The UK government, with the enthusiastic backing of Unionism, has decided it wants to unpick that solution.

    You can’t tear up the existing solution and impose a new one that requires others to cope with additional restrictions, and demand that I simply lump it. You can’t ask me, as a supporter of a previous solution which worked well, to enthusiastically back an alternative that diminishes the rights of others.

    it plays to the worst old school Irish nationalist prejudice about Ulster British people being supposedly “not really British”

    Disrespect for another person’s nationality exists across the community in Northern Ireland and it is unacceptable. Anyone born in Northern Ireland who asserts themselves to be British has the absolute right to be called British, and to be treated with the full respect and rights that are accorded to British citizens.

    By the same token, citizens who identify as Irish should be accorded the same rights and privileges as Irish citizens.

    We had a solution that everyone was happy with. To repeat my point, the UK government, with the backing of the Unionists, have chosen to tear that up. In leaving the single market and the customs union, they are asking Irish citizens within Northern Ireland to accept a dilution of their status.

    You seem to be arguing that they should accept this dilution on the basis

    Perhaps it would all be a bit easier, this, if Irish nationalism had read what it signed up to in 1998 and meant it. It is supposed to accept the legitimacy of the border;

    To nitpick : there’s nothing in the Agreement requiring signatories to accept that the border is legitimate. There’s a requirement that NI’s constitutional status should not change without the consent of a majority – that is not quite the same thing. There’s also a requirement that the aspirations of everyone in the community be respected and accorded legitimacy.

    it seems some still wish to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Why exactly do you care whether nationalists indulge themselves in a fantasy over whether or not the border exists ? Let them fantasize all they want.

    It is ridiculous that we are now seriously debating – at Irish and EU behest – putting an internal trade border up inside the UK in order to avoid the appearance of an international border in the place we all agree there actually is one

    The Agreement was signed in an era – which predated the European Union – where the border existed essentially only in name to mark the dividing line between two jurisdictions which had common immigration and travel arrangements. That isn’t a nationalist fantasy.

    You cannot fundamentally alter the nature of that border in a way not anticipated by that Agreement and then demand that the terms of the Agreement continue to be respected. This is bad faith; it is a breach of contract. By doing this you void the Agreement.

    But damaging the bigger east-west axis in order to solve a problem on the north-south axis makes no sense, whether you’re a unionist or not.

    You need to take this up with the people who are arguing that we should abandon our current trading relationship with our biggest market and instead chase opportunities on the other side of the world. They are the people, not me, who will insist – just as they did in 1945 – that it is simply easier to enforce the border at the airports and seaports rather than try to implement it along a long, porous border with hundreds of crossing points.

  • Brendan Heading

    This is why the idea of keeping NI in the single market or customs union on its own creates a major barrier across the Irish Sea and I can only think this is mischievous on the EU’s part

    The easiest solution is actually for the UK as a whole to stay in the customs union or to enter a comprehensive trade deal with it.

    I do not think that Northern Ireland’s economy as presently constituted has a stable future in an isolated UK which is cutting deals with foreign countries to import cheap agricultural produce that undercuts local prices, which is something that Michael Gove and others have enthusiastically embraced. I arrived at this conclusion independently, and long before the referendum.

    playing politics with Northern Ireland and stoking anti-British feeling in the province.

    None of this would be happening if the UK government had not abandoned Northern Ireland’s interests in pursuit of its brexit fantasy.

    In expecting others in Northern Ireland to address this you are asking us to fix a problem we did not cause after rejecting a solution we had already agreed. How can you possibly expect this to be fair play ?

    I supported and voted for an agreement that respected everyone’s Britishness, everyone’s rights and everyone’s status. That has been torn up. Why are you looking to to me and others like me to solve this ?

  • Brendan Heading

    I draw your attention in particular to the part at the end that says

    “it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people”

    (emphasis mine)

    Leaving the customs union and the single market is making a chance in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of a majority of its people. The UK government is in violation of this principle.

  • Brendan Heading

    There is no passport control between the UK and Ireland for citizens of these states, as far as I understand it.

  • Brendan Heading

    I don’t think so. If enforcing the border via work permits and visas is sufficient why did the USA think it so important to elect a President who proposes to build a wall ?

  • Georgie Best

    There is only a wall on the Mexican border, not one on the Canadian border.

  • Georgie Best

    Indeed it could be argued that leaving the EU in the first place is a change in the status of Northern Ireland.
    There are other elements of the GFA. It obliges both governments to make an honest effort, which the British government is certainly not doing. It obliges the Secretary of State to represent the interests of NI, which the likes of Villiers and Brokenshire are most certainly not doing.

  • Georgie Best

    The GFA does not prescribe in detail everything that is going to happen 20 years in the future. It cannot. When things arise that are not directly provided in the agreement then a similar discussion process has to take place. In the present situation the only discussion is between the DUP and the Tories. All the other NI parties, the Irish government, other UK parties, the EU, all are being entirely and deliberately ignored, and disparaged in many cases.
    Most people in Ireland or Britain do not want this, they do not want the GFA and 32 years of Anglo Irish cooperation to be flushed down the bog.

  • Máire

    The border is 310 miles long with 275 crossing points, that’s more crossing points than the EU  has with countries to the east of it. As you say checks at ports and airports would seem to be more logical.

  • Korhomme

    Thank you for the links.

    Do I understand this correctly? Those in the original Free State were still British citizens (or subjects). The Common Travel Area allowed British citizens to travel freely between GB and the Free State; it wasn’t originally for all comers.

    Presumably it was the 1937 Constitution which made the population Irish — or did that not happen until 1949? (I see that between 1937 and 1949, George VI was ‘King of Ireland’, and only he could accredit foreign ambassadors.)

    It was joining the EEC/EU which rather changed things in terms of ‘freedom of movement’.

    The GFA specifically notes that both NI and the Republic are in the EU.

  • runnymede

    No you are wrong as the UK has made clear it wants to maintain the CTA.

  • runnymede

    Yes. The EU proposals would imply either tariffs, or non-tariff barriers, or both between GB and NI.

  • runnymede

    Yes it would be a sensible option – but it would mean Ireland effectively opting out of the CAP and I doubt the EU would allow that.

  • Nevin

    Background – according to Wiki. A friend of mine, born in Donegal around 1948 but who moved to north Antrim about four years later, missed one week of a holiday to Florida a few years ago when his travel documents didn’t meet USA requirements when he arrived at Dublin airport. His wife, a north Antrim native, travelled on without him!

  • Korhomme

    Thanks again!

    I had been aware of some of this, but I didn’t realise just how tortuous things had been.

  • Nevin

    “There was serious concern within the party over the implementation of the war-time system of residence permits. In 1945 the Business Committee considered complaints from Armagh and Fermanagh that Protestants from the South were not having their permits renewed while ‘many Roman Catholics were allowed to remain’. A Fermanagh Unionist complained: ‘Some Protestants in Fermanagh who had got notices to quit had given loyal service in the Special Constables and the Home Guard. It was not fair to these people when the late Lord Craigavon had invited them to come to Ulster from Eire.’ However, the Minister for Home Affairs, J. E. Warnock, had to explain to the committee that ‘He must administer the law as he found it. He could not administer it on a sectarian basis and had no intention of doing so.’” .. McDonald and Kaufmann, “Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland since 1945” – excerpts online.

  • Oriel27

    you know what i mean, B-Speicials, RUC , UDR – all the same people that time.

  • Oriel27

    sure what would be wrong with just using the passport? for peace sake would it not be just the easiest & cheapest option?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    when crossing the border?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    hmm … not really

  • Oriel27

    No when flying over to England – I’m being serious please.

  • harmlessdrudge

    Yes, really.

  • harmlessdrudge

    It’s about far more than the movement of goods. I suggest you spent some time on the blog of pro leave Richard North: https://eureferendum.com.

  • harmlessdrudge

    It’s absolutely wrong. It’s about a great deal more. See https://eureferendum.com

  • harmlessdrudge

    It isn’t and never has been. There’s no Good Friday Agreement setting out circumstances in which Finchley may no longer be part of the UK. N. Ireland is becoming “greener” all the time. Nationalists constitute a majority of the population under 46, a number that goes up a year every year. Unionists are an overwhelming majority of the over 70s and are no longer in the majority.

  • harmlessdrudge

    A superb response and more than I would have had the energy for. I love how the unionists are so upset when it comes to equal treatment which they still deny to nationalists.

    On my last visit to NI a few years ago I overheard a conversation at breakfast at the next table in a fine hotel in which a group of somewhat elderly NI unionists were discussing (to my considerable surprise) how badly nationalists had been treated since the foundation of the state and how everybody (i.e., all of them) knew it perfectly well. On the same visit I saw posters up in one place (Coleraine) demanding that there be an agreement that there would be no change in the constitutional status of N.I. for 30 years. I wondered if some people had anxieties about being on the receiving end of what their side had dished out. And of course nothing makes it more likely than rubbing people’s noses in their inequality, which goes on still, despite the progress that has been made.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    so am I – why have to have a passport for travelling within your own country in order to avoid needing one when crossing an actual international border?

    I don’t think one should be needed at all for citizens of our two countries, travelling between each other. But if there has to be a place for showing a passport, the border seems the natural spot.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think so yes

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Mate, we had a national vote on it in the UK and all parts of the country are bound by it – it was a national decision.

    But yes we should stay in the customs union and single market and have free movement of EU workers – we would still be respecting the vote as we’d be leaving, but we’d avoid the economic damage.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not according to the landmark Supreme Court judgment on this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Supreme Court looked at this in detail and unanimously disagreed with that suggestion. GFA does not preclude us leaving the EU and doing so does not breach the GFA. If you read its provisions you’ll see there is nothing in there that depends legally on EU membership.

  • Georgie Best

    The GFA is first and foremost a political agreement, not a contract for servicing a washing machine.

    All decisions will be by agreement between both Governments. The Governments will make determined efforts to resolve disagreements between them

    These meetings, to be co-chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would also deal with all-island and cross-border co-operation on non-devolved issues.

    There is no matter more the joint concern of both governments than cross border travel and trade and the British government is not engaging in cooperation nor is it making a determined effort to resolve disagreement. Rather it is proceeding maliciously with action which does not have agreement, either within NI or with the Irish government,

    If Britain thinks they are in compliance with the GFA then instead of asking themselves they should invite George Mitchell back to chair talks on the matter. They won’t, of course, because they know right well that they are a disgrace.

  • Oriel27

    Fair enough. That makes sense. No passport between both countries. I respect your view to differ.
    I’m sitting right now in crossmaglen waiting on wife to come out of shop. I think it would be a desperate act by who ever will implement it to ask people around here to show passports.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think it will happen. And for me, Crossmaglen should be in the Republic to boot.

  • You have to present photo ID for internal flights within the UK.

  • Brendan Heading

    Not according to the landmark Supreme Court judgment on this.

    Actually it was the High Court, not the Supreme Court, but never mind.

    The High Court ruled that – in any case – there was no legal expectation that the Good Friday Agreement could supercede the sovereignty of Parliament. This is hardly a “landmark” ruling. It is of course the reality of the British constitution that any part of the Agreement, or any other law, can be superseded at any time by an act of Parliament.

    By the same fact of law, Parliament could just as easy pass a law to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom. There would be no legal recourse for the same reason.

    I don’t consider the Agreement to be breached as a matter of law – the UK government has every legal right to do what it is doing. I consider it to be breached as a matter of bad faith. If you’re in the position where you’re trying to litigate the true meaning of a document agreed in good faith between people trying to reach a compromise you have, in a sense, already lost. Accordingly, while the law of the land applies in full, the moral obligation to be true to the spirit of the Agreement does not.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No, I was referring to the Supreme Court from January this year in R (on the application of Miller and another) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant), Ref by the Attorney General for Northern
    Ireland in the matter of an application by Agnew and others for Judicial Review, Ref by the Court of Appeal (Northern Ireland) in the matter of an application by Raymond McCord for Judicial Review: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2016-0196-judgment.pdf

    From the BBC report on the judgment:
    “So on to Northern Ireland: does it have a unique status?
    Well yes and no. The justices said the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement in 1998 did indeed give its people a lock over their future – but not in this context.
    The court said: ‘In our view this important provision which rose out of the Belfast Agreement gave the people of Northern Ireland the right to determine whether to remain part of the UK or to become part of a united Ireland.
    ‘It neither regulated any other change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland nor required the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.'”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38733090

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It is certainly fair to say Brexit causes a major headaches for Anglo-Irish relations. But what’s also clear is that the UK did not mean harm to the Republic by doing this; and it was entitled to do it. Every member of the EU has a right to leave if its people so choose and sadly, we so chose. The UK’s commitment to the GFA has been reiterated over and over since. I am no fan of the Tories generally and the whole Brexit shambles but they have been consistent on the GFA being fully acknowledged and respected. The British government has wanted to work through the GFA and indeed it has been Dublin which has sought to set up alternative all-Ireland structures in the aftermath of Brexit to co-ordinate a pan-Irish responses – and has then berated the DUP for insisting on sticking to the GFA ones. So I do see this a little differently from you.

    ‘Bad faith’ is really going too far. The structures set up by the GFA, particularly the Strand 2 and 3 structures, were built for resolving issues between NI and the Republic and between the UK as a whole and the Republic. We are going to take different positions on where our respective countries’ national interests lie from time to time. That is not a breach of good faith when that happens – that is all the more reason to put our structures into action and use them to make sure our differences don’t have a negative impact in N Ireland. The two countries need to focus on that now and realise that both still support the GFA, no one has breached it, and that we can work something out that will make the best of this bad job of Brexit.

  • Brendan Heading

    But what’s also clear is that the UK did not mean harm to the Republic by doing this

    Intention is not the issue. The problem is that the consequences for Ireland, and Northern Ireland, were not considered and were barely mentioned during the referendum debate.

    Every member of the EU has a right to leave if its people so choose and sadly, we so chose.

    Yes, and I’ve been trying to explain, the retort to this is inevitably going to be that Northern Ireland has the right to leave the United Kingdom if it so chooses, and I believe that, absent a decent deal for the UK, it will choose – maybe not now, but in the medium term.

    The UK’s commitment to the GFA has been reiterated over and over since.

    Words and actions are two different things.

    The British government has wanted to work through the GFA and indeed it has been Dublin which has sought to set up alternative all-Ireland structures in the aftermath of Brexit to co-ordinate a pan-Irish responses

    I’m not sure what this is in reference to.

    ‘Bad faith’ is really going too far. The structures set up by the GFA, particularly the Strand 2 and 3 structures, were built for resolving issues between NI and the Republic and between the UK as a whole and the Republic.

    There is no point in repeating this. I accept the court’s judgement, but I personally do not accept that Northern Ireland’s position in Europe was, or is, divorced from Northern Ireland’s status within the European Union. There is room for flexibility, which is why I would not argue, for example, that the invocation of Article 50 and the formal departure from the EU is a violation in and of itself. It is the departure from the customs union and from the single market that will fundamentally change the face of what Northern Ireland is. The removal of Northern Ireland from its right of recourse to European courts would be a further issue (it is unclear whether or not the ECJ will continue to have jurisdiction). For me, this is a breach of good faith; they are doing something which, had it been known at the time, would have led to a different Agreement.

    I’d add that there have been other breaches of good faith in the Agreement such as, for example, the IRA’s failure to disarm on time which SF argued was non-binding on them. Many Unionists felt that the Agreement was useless for this reason. My feelings are along similar lines, except that what is being done is orders of magnitude more significant.

    The two countries need to focus on that now and realise that both still support the GFA, no one has breached it, and that we can work something out that will make the best of this bad job of Brexit.

    Sorry. It’s too late. If the UK leaves the customs union, and the single market, the Agreement is no longer an Agreement. That’s the long and the short of it.

  • Brendan Heading

    There’s no way I could hope to go through 100 pages of legal opinion from the finest legal minds in the country, so I will pass, and go with your summary.

    I think we need to recap where our disagreement started.

    Your view is that giving Northern Ireland special status within the customs union would be a violation of the Agreement as it would be a change of the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. My view is that (a) this is true but that (b) it is redundant, because the Agreement will have already been violated via the unilateral decision by the UK to enforce Northern Ireland’s withdrawal from the customs union and the single market.

    To defend your position you are quoting a court judgement which says that the constitutional issues part of the Agreement deals only with the narrow matter of whether or not NI is a constituent part of the UK. Northern Ireland will continue to be a constituent part of the UK, just one with a different customs regime and an associated inspections regime. If the UK Parliament passes a law empowering the government to implement special status for Northern Ireland, there is no recourse.

    If the Supreme Court doesn’t support my interpretation of the Agreement, then by the same token it doesn’t support yours.