Almost 100 years after the border in Ireland was created, it has all but disappeared, a distant if painful memory. For younger people, it is a story of times gone by told by older people.
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 is credited with the dismantling of the border, but ‘donkey-work’ was also done by the EU Single European Act (SEA). RTÉ’s Northern Editor, Tommie Gorman, recently cited a December 1992 report from his then colleague, Brendan Wright.
“It documented how border posts and the systems of customs checks were about to disappear forever – all as a result of the Single European Act … signed in Luxembourg in February 1986 … Its objective was to establish a European Single Market by 31 December 1992 … On the island of Ireland it took from 1987 to the final seconds of 1992, almost six years, to put in place the arrangements that saw the disappearance of customs posts along the border.
“A decade would pass before the peace process facilitated the dismantling of British Army watchtowers and border security installations. But the tangible evidence of day-to-day business normality, a consequence of EU membership, significantly predates the Good Friday Agreement. A case could be made that those visible, practical changes, including the ending of queues and inspections at the border, was a driver of what became the peace process.”
The free movement of people and goods was the key that started to unlock the concrete world of the border mentality, embedded in the British establishment and their northern minions. The days were numbered for the border jokers and thieves who plied their trade all along the watchtowers. The border minds were slowly decommissioned and consigned to dust.
The seeds of common sense were sown and blossomed with the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Sudden intakes of breath gave way to easy breathing. There was an odd gulp, but that’s the way of human nature. Life is not perfect. If it were we’d all die in graveyards!
Then the rumbling began. The Brits were growling about the gargantuan mess that is the EU. They had enough of the diktats. At least that’s how it presented itself. If you scratch a little under the surface it had less to do with the colonial mindsets and more to do with the growing disquiet over the deepening gulf between the ‘haves and the have-nots’, according to the voters.
When given the chance, the majority voted to leave. Taking that voice seriously is still proving a little bit difficult for the elected elite, the executive class. Ireland changed its constitution to facilitate the GFA. Will the UK now change to facilitate Brexit? Will the EU?
The so-called border was dealt with by Ireland under the SEA and GFA. Now it’s time for the UK and EU to do the same. The EU has supported the ‘current backstop conversation’, with a few recent blips. If there is a no-deal Brexit will it be the EU who will re-introduce the border? At present, the only British border in Ireland exists in the minds of those who choose to erect it.
An Taoiseach made a huge gaffe last week with his reference to uniformed supports and the like along ‘the border.’ Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald’s call for a unity referendum is a sure reason for the establishment to say no, regardless of how justified it might be.
Meanwhile, Macron and Merkel have signed a ‘friendship treaty’ with the aim of creating a joint European army. And neither sees the irony! So while we worry about freedom of movement for people, goods and services, the EU heavyweights are gearing up for tanks and fighter jets.
We became footstools for the bankers thanks to overpaid politicians who couldn’t care less. Are we now to become footstools for an EU that will drop us like a hot potato if it suits the larger states? They did it before.
Are the plain people of Ireland being asked to stand in line to become fodder, again? It is time to shout it from the rooftops, straight out to London and Brussels, Ireland says no border – end of.