Friday, June 24, 2016

Whither Northern Ireland?

When I left work at 4AM today, I put on the local NPR affiliate, which broadcasts BBC programming in the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, the topic was all Brexit, all the time- a pattern which held true for most of the day's news cycle. Among the main topics is the ripple effects of the UK leaving the EU on financial markets... I don't even want to look at my 403(b) right now.

On a personal note, I wonder what effect the Brexit will have on the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I'm a quarter-Irish by heritage, and I live in neighborhood in which many Irish immigrants live, so I tend to write about Irish matters quite a bit. Thankfully, the Good Friday Agreement, while not signed, has largely held, and the bloodshed stopped in 1998 with the horrific and broadly condemned Omagh bombing. With the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland both being members of the European Union, the divisions between north and south lost much of their meaning.

Now, with the population of Northern Ireland voting 56% in favor of remaining in the EU, and sharing a land border with the EU, the republican Sinn Féin party is calling for a vote on Irish reunification. This is, as Irish-American Joe Biden would put it, a Big Fucking Deal.

The repercussions, economic and social (hell even border control will be an issue), of the Brexit pose real challenges for the Republic of Ireland in the near future. Before the pipe-dream of a United Ireland even becomes an agenda item, these problems will have to be ironed out... one might even say Norn Ironed out. It's a bit premature to sing this:

I'm working tonight, so I don't have an opportunity to broach the subject in one of the local pubs, though such conversations can be contentious. It's been a long, long time since I've heard a publican intone, "If you're gonna keep asking questions, we're gonna ask you to leave." I call that challenge the barxit.


Unknown said...

My dad tells me about how in the late Eighties, Ireland was in the paper almost every day, like Israel and Palestine. With so many old conflicts feeling like there's no hope for an end, it's good to hear about one that changed in recent history.

Considering what a dark period we seem to be entering, reading about things like that might be the best we have for a while.

Chickpea said...

I am gutted at the results and ashamed of my fellow Brits. The racist fear mongering was disgusting and sadly worked. I wouldn't blame Scotland and Northern Ireland opting to distance themselves from this fiasco. The Brexit rhetoric was to 'bring the great back into Great Britain' instead we are turning into 'Little England' inward looking and intolerant. If we end up with Boris and Trump I fear for all our futures.

mikey said...

Meh. We'll see. The referendum was non binding. Cameron already said he'd leave the Article 50 negotiations to the next government. So those talks won't even BEGIN until next year. And they will involve dozens, probably hundreds of different, very specific treaties and agreements. As the costs and difficulties start to become clear, I would not be surprised to see the London political leadership back away from Article 50 and just return to the pre-vote status quo...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Scotland is thinking of leaving, too.