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After the Common Travel Area? September 30, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Anyone read a short but thought-provoking piece in History Ireland over the summer where Aileen Bowe (“writer and correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service an organisation of immigration solicitors in the UK that provides legal aid to forcibly displaced persons”) spoke about the relations between Ireland and Britain. Almost as a throwaway line she mentioned the following:

Although the CTA is still in existence and grants broad freedoms to both UK and Irish citizens, whether such arrangements will continue remains uncertain. The UK’s centre on Constitutional Change recently noted that, despite the Irish government’s commitment to diplomatic cooperation, the UK government has not been so forthcoming. Indeed, the prevailing ideology of ‘taking back control of our borders’ has meant that previously strong relationships are being reconsidered in the light of this new mantra.

I’ve been thinking about that since and while initially sceptical, this after all is an agreement that long predates the AIA and GFA/BA, and in a sense serves to underpin, albeit stand separate from the latter, the point she makes about Britain’s relationships internationally being in a state of significant change is sound.

Of course the reality that the CTA encompasses both of the islands and the only land border the UK has is on this island does complicate mattes. It is that reality that the CTA sought to address, as well as a further reality of extremely close sub/none-state relations between the two islands (in the sense of informal, familial, cultural and other connections).

Yet, we aren’t in Kansas any longer with respect to the UK. The volatility of the current government, the wilful attitude to international norms, while not of a piece with that of the last administration in the US, does suggest that long-established norms are no longer sacrosanct.

Do I expect the CTA to be overturned? Not in the short to medium term, but it would not surprise me if aspects of it were whittled away.


1. EWI - September 30, 2021

I expect a sharpening of the palpable reality that this is a rare remaining area between the two jurisdictions where the UK is in the driver’s seat and clearly able to dictate terms.

It is all to conceivable that we could see a Brexiteer demand to force the ROI to choose between a looser connection to the EU and a harder British border in Ireland.

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WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2021



2. banjoagbeanjoe - September 30, 2021

It’s a great topic for discussion.
The CTA has been a reality for so long that everyone takes it for granted.
And it’s more than just common travel. Isn’t there all kind of rights that people have – Irish citizens, UK subjects – that work both ways under the arrangement?
So a citizen or subject who migrates to the other jurisdiction, under the arrangement (CTA+?), pretty much acquires all/most of the rights of a citizen/subject of the country they migrate too. Automatically. It’s almost like a mini-version of the EU in that respect, except it just encompasses these two islands.

And key is that it works both ways. Both sets of citizens or subjects benefit, fairly equally.

Which isn’t to say that the little Britain Brexiteer madness won’t result in the UK deciding to wreck it, just because.
And it certainly won’t stop the UK trying to use it as a bargaining chip (and pressure point with the Irish govt) in their ongoing negotiations with the EU about the post-Brexit world.

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Michael Carley - September 30, 2021

The Ireland Act 1949 says that for the purposes of any UK law, the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country. As far as the UK is concerned, in theory, we’re not foreigners.


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banjoagbeanjoe - September 30, 2021

“As far as the UK is concerned, in theory, we’re not foreigners.”

So what should our reaction be to that?

Well that’s very generous of them.
How dare they.
How dare they insult us by not accepting that we finally drove them out and condescend to us by insisting we still aren’t foreigners ever after we’ve driven them out … but, hey, we can just head over there and they’ll give us a job or the dole and free medical care? Well me oul heart is broke so it is as I bid farewell to Paddy’s green shamrock shore.

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3. sonofstan - September 30, 2021

In some quite useful ways though, the British side has being more accommodating with regard to the provisions of the CTA than the Irish.
For example: if I fly into Dublin Airport from here, I will always go through passport control – if I fly the other way, there will occasionally be a security check, but quite often none, and any ID will do. Secondly, I can drive here on an Irish license indefinitely – people with UK licenses in Ireland need to swap them for an Irish one (this is a post-Brexit shift). And, when travel restrictions were at their strictest, I was exempt from quarantine and test and release here – explicitly because CTA – coming from Ireland, but not in the other direction.

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WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2021

I imagine the differentiation is the sense of this being an EU border this side. Though odd because you’d think the UK would seek to implement it their side too and to the same degree.

I’ve no issue with the CTA at all – there’s solid historical reasons for certain interactions between these islands. I think there’s something not entirely dissimilar between Scandinavian states, some of which are EEA and others which are EU.


banjoagbeanjoe - September 30, 2021

So we’re starting to treat them like foreigners but they haven’t gotten around to treating us like foreigners? I wonder will they ever?


WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2021

Well, they are foreigners and we are most certainly foreigners to them, to an even greater degree in terms of cultural and other attitudes. Close foreigners, intermixed, many connections , though that perhaps could be said about many land borders across the planet and neighbouring states (even before we get to the partition of the island here). Cousins, is that the relationship if we were to define it as family?


sonofstan - September 30, 2021

We’re supposed to be socialists and internationalists aren’t we? 🙂
I’ve never felt over here was properly ‘foreign’. Except Surrey.

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WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2021

I’m half English by parentage and birth so I’m the first to appreciate commonalities 🙂 . But I think certain distinctions societally and culturally are not necessarily seen because of the shared language and in fairness the points I suggest above also exist (there’s another angle too which is also had people telling me in England that ‘you’re not really Irish…your parent is Irish, etc’ assuming a different sort of commonality entirely!). Foreign is not the greatest word but… they are different (the distinction societally and culturally – humans are of course humans!).


Wes Ferry - September 30, 2021

SoS: We’re supposed to be socialists and internationalists aren’t we? 🙂

We are but we’re not the Government in either jurisdiction (yet). 😉

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WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2021

The more I think about the word foreign the less I like it, and I think you point WF to something I should have. I think on the personal level differences are muted and no more or less than one will find between any groups of people. Which is to say remarkably few and commonalities outweigh differences of attitude (and really those distinctions are psychological,and no more which is to say irrelevant). But at state level the UK is a different state with different interests to the ROI, and even within that England is different in its interests to Scotland and Wales. And it’s the issue of how states, and large states dominated largely by those from one part of it or from certain classes function. I’ve never felt London where I was born or Birmingham where one of my parents and their family comes from from time immemorial to be ‘foreign’ but I’ve always liked the differences of place and enjoyed them, but large states, lots of people (rather like Mat implicitly says) have sometimes problematic dynamics with neighbouring smaller states.

It’s a really interesting question to me personally because I do identify with certain aspects of England (as have we all, particularly culturally). Or identify might be the wrong word but feel a sympathy or meeting of minds.


4. Mat - September 30, 2021

I definately know people who in the Nineties lived in Ireland for dole purposes and the UK for NHS purposes often using relatives addresses for both. I remember considering construction jobs in Ireland during the height of the Celtic Tiger offering golden handshakes for us Brits entitled to Irish passports if we would head over. Not like massive but at the time when I was between work in London it looked quite appealing.

The CTA also includes the Channel Islands and Isle of Man and even Brits can’t just up and move to Jersey if they feel like it, not without money. But Jersey folk can the other way. It does feel legitimate for the smaller polities to have greater restrictions than the larger.

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sonofstan - September 30, 2021

” Brits can’t just up and move to Jersey if they feel like it, not without money”

Interesting point – guy I’ve known for a long time from Jersey had interesting tales about the clash between the natives and the blow-ins taking advantage of the tax laws.

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