From centuries Britain has ruled the island of Ireland. The Irish people have revolted countless times, but never for the English to leave. That is until 1920s when the UK drew a border on the island of Ireland. But the time the island was divided into two groups of radical thinkers. The Unionist were the Protestant group who wanted to be a part of the UK, whereas, the Nationalists were Catholic Irish who were pro-independence. To resolve the issue, UK made a border. The Northern Ireland was to stay with the UK but the rest of the island was to become the Republic of Ireland, a separate legal state which did not identify as a part of the United Kingdom.
But things took a violent turn in 1960s. the year saw uprising to the Irish Republican Army, a violent extremist group who fought for the unification of the land. On the other hand, the pro-uk militia fought against them on streets in an all-out armed conflict. England sent thousands of special forces personal to prevent what could’ve turned out to be a civil war.
After 38 years of constant conflict, peace was restored in 1998 with the ratification of Good Friday Agreement. The UK removed its hard border dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland as the Good Friday Agreement stated the following two terms.
- “…Right to hold both British and Irish citizenship.”
- “…North and South to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish.”
But in 2016 things took another turn. In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The main reason for the existence of EU was to make trade free in member countries without border regulations. The UK decided to leave EU cause it wanted to re-establish its trade policies and impose a strict regulation on its borders. The decision left the state in a topsy turvy about what to do with its Northern Ireland border. The issue with the Good Friday agreement appeared as the 3rd most important issue against Brexit. The situation is particularly complex cause whatever course of action Britain choses, will leave them violating the Good Friday Agreement. The possible course of action the state can take are.
- Put a hard border on Northern Ireland and completely violate the Good Friday Agreement. This could potentially give rise to IRA again and will definitely offend the Nationalists in Republic of Ireland.
- Put a hard border on Irish sea and leave Northern Ireland in the EU Customs Union. This will be an act of betrayal against the Unionists and a definite violation to the Good Friday Agreement.
- The third possible course of action will be for UK to stay in EU Customs Union. But then is Britain doesn’t refurbish its trade policies and border checks, what’s even the point of Brexit?
On March 5, 2018 UK Prime Minister Theresa May, in her speech at the parliament said “The UK has been clear it is leaving the Customs Union. The EU has also formed a customs union with some other countries. But those arrangements, if applied to the UK, would mean the EU setting the UK's external tariffs, being able to let other countries sell more into the UK without making it any easier for us to sell more to them, or the UK signing up to the Common Commercial Policy. That would not be compatible with a meaningful independent trade policy.”
The only course of action remaining is the re-unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But this scenario will give a large amount of power to the Nationalists. The newly elected Green Party’s candidate in the European Elections, Claire Bailey, said "In that context I don't see how Brexit can be delivered without the endorsement of the people." Ms Bailey suggests that only a new referendum could conclude this unrest. A referendum that will once again make UK a member of the EU.