The Border: the view from Dublin September 8, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Reading ROI Ambassador Dan Mulhall’s contribution to The House of Lords Committee which is inquiring into the ‘impact on the relationship between the UK and Ireland’ following the Brexit referendum I couldn’t help but feel he was more optimistic in his reading that I would be.
For example, he stated:
“Even under a worst case scenario, that Britain decided to prevent all EU Citizens from coming to live and work in the UK, it seems to me that the Irish border doesn’t really pose a particular additional risk to Britain of the kind that would warrant trying to impose border controls on a border that doesn’t have any geographical basis very much, unlike borders in other parts of Europe,” Mr Mulhall said.
And he continues:
As long as Ireland remains outside of Schengen, people coming into Ireland need to go through passport control.
“Therefore, the only people that will have the right of free movement into Ireland, the right to live and work, will be European Union citizens. Of course, it’s true that an EU citizen could come to Ireland after Brexit, and then decide to go across the border into Northern Ireland and then into Britain.
“But they would be illegal immigrants, and most Europeans are not interested in being illegal in any European country.
And yet, and yet, why would the UK feel sanguine about illegal immigrants either? Moreover, and here I think he somewhat misses the point, it isn’t about legal or illegal immigration as such but about a sense of control, something that is both more intangible in many respects but which paradoxically because of that intangibility may require more solidly visible means of combatting it (whether it exists or not). Talking to a range of people from a range of political backgrounds there’s a lot more pessimism expressed than he’s showing.
Fair enough, his job is to put the best face on it. And he has a point in the following:
The ambassador also said that the Irish government does not underestimate the level of “disquiet” felt by many people in the North at the prospect of losing their connection to the EU. He said a hard border needed to be avoided.
“If the UK does leave the EU, Northern Ireland will be in the unique position whereby almost all of its residents will be entitled to citizenship of an EU country, Ireland, and we must be alert to the particular circumstances of those Irish and EU citizens who will find themselves in a situation where they will be citizens of a European Union country, but they will be resident outside of the European Union,” the ambassador said.
So he argues that ‘the best arrangement for Ireland in a post-Brexit environment would be keeping the status quo’.
Indeed. It would. But will it be the one we get?