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A question about the Irish/Northern Ireland border

(64 Posts)
Heatherjayne1972 Fri 07-Dec-18 10:54:40

So was chatting with a friend about all things brexit and he wants to know how come places like Canada North America and Mexico ( and other countries) can exist side by side harmoniously. ( ish) when they are sovereign states Yet there’s tension on the NI/ROI border
I’ve explained the good Friday agreement being an international legally binding thing / history/ the troubles / Ireland being its own sovereign state Etc
But he thinks the border should be ‘handled ‘ by the UN. Like north and South Korea
What would you say to this ?

Auntiepatricia Fri 07-Dec-18 10:59:28

Huh? I’m not sure what you are trying to say/ask? We have no border, that’s been working fine. Putting a border in is difficult when there hasn’t been one for practical and political reasons. I’ve no clue what you are going on about US/Canada for. I’m sure we could have a similar set up but why would we want it when to now we’ve just been able to drive through (practical reason) and it’s been free to run our border (financial reason) and the good Friday agreement has required an open border (political reason).

Auntiepatricia Fri 07-Dec-18 11:00:41

You seem to be implying that Canada/US border situation is better? Better than no border? That’s batshit.

MrsSpenserGregson Fri 07-Dec-18 11:00:48

"Yet there's tension on the NI/ROI border."

Have you googled the Troubles?

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 11:12:10

People drive and commute backwards and forwards everyday. They can't be expected to have custom checks on the way to school or work. The Canada USA border has queues, that is just not feasible.

Also for historic reasons (or not so historic) any border is controversial, stoking up feelings about national identity, and would lead to violence.

There are literally hundreds of crossings, some are just paths. Some are through houses and businesses. It would be impossible to have checks at each crossing.

Imagine if there had been a war about whether Canada was part of the USA and half of people in Canada felt they were part of the USA but the other half felt they were part of Greenland. It had taken hundreds of years to achieve relative peace with an agreement that all of the USA and Canada had voted for. That had only happened 20 years ago. So both sides were able to maintain a feeling of their national identity. Hundreds of people had died over the conflict and tensions were still high in some communities and at certain times of the year. Then you're not even near to the same situation.

Heatherjayne1972 Fri 07-Dec-18 11:19:01

This is a friend asking me
I think he thinks the UN should get involved on the Irish border

bellinisurge Fri 07-Dec-18 11:19:26

During the Troubles I said that it should be a UN peace keeping area.
Apparently that was a threat to our sovereignty (sound familiar?).
If your "friend " doesn't understand why the UK border on the island of Ireland is a problem, I suggest your "friend " needs to do some basic research.
If your "friend " voted Leave not knowing any of this your "friend " is an unpatriotic, irresponsible jerk.

purits Fri 07-Dec-18 11:27:39

I'm with your friend. There are international land borders throughout the world. I don't know why this border thinks it doesn't have to obey the same norms as other countries.

WhatchaMaCalllit Fri 07-Dec-18 11:34:01

FFS. Go read a history book that includes Anglo Irish history. Not just a UK school text book that may gloss over it but one that includes all of the information about the past 800 years and then some.

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 11:34:12

That's a very clever border to be thinking about things isn't it?

bellinisurge Fri 07-Dec-18 11:34:19

You don't know @purits because you are ignorant .

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 11:36:56


Heatherjayne1972 Fri 07-Dec-18 11:45:54

It really is a friend. He’s not said so but I think he voted to leave
I voted remain

I think like a lot of leavers here ( just outside London) he just didn’t consider the impact this would have on NI when casting his vote
And yes I have suggested he educate himself on the history of NI/ROI

Thankyou all. Lots to discuss next time this subject comes up

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 11:55:11

I don't know why this border thinks it doesn't have to obey the same norms as other countries.

Because we aren’t other countries. We are ROI and NI and we have this specific set up for very specific life saving reasons. We were interfered with and screwed with by occupying nations to the point that civil war erupted and the only peace we have came with the guarantee we could live freely between ROI and NI without being treated like imposters at either side of the border in our own land.

Ifailed Fri 07-Dec-18 11:55:38

the 'issue' about the NI/Irish border is what happens when it becomes the EU/UK border? At the moment, under the GFA, there is no physical border and goods & people can freely move across it. If the UK leaves the EU, then under EU rules there has to be a border, but that goes against the GFA. Tell that to your ignorant friend.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 11:55:41

Live= move

purits Fri 07-Dec-18 12:01:45

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Herculesfan Fri 07-Dec-18 12:05:22


Who are you referring to when you say ‘you have enjoyed peace for twenty years?’

purits Fri 07-Dec-18 12:07:11

If you've got something to say then say it.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 12:08:12

You endanger yourselves.

hmm because were all terrorists over here?

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 12:08:59

I dare say purits is one of those leavers that didn’t give a shit about the impact on the people of NI, if the British border in Ireland is affected.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 12:09:15

You have enjoyed peace for twenty years, why throw it away.

Exactly. Why throw it away by erecting a border. Why must the British insist again on risking our peace for their own means?

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 12:10:57

Yes I do think the history of ni makes it immune from 'international norms'. There are other controversial borders in the world you know. None has been managed so successfully with relative peace for 20 years. A good solution has been found, it should not be changed. Also, FYI, people are not 'endangering themselves', some people would be endangering everyone else that lives there. There is nothing that can be done about that, a managed solution has been found, which has to be retained for the safety of everyone else.

As a side point I hardly think we should be looking at n / s Korea as an example of good international management of a border. Or Israel / Palestine.

Brocade Fri 07-Dec-18 12:13:12

Ignore purits’s exhibition of fine-tuned goadiness.

I suggest you direct your dimwitted friend here, OP, if the Wiki entries on the partition of Ireland and the Troubles are too hard for him:

Good resource, hosted by the University of Ulster, for anyone interested.

The Irish Border’s Twitter is also prescient.

purits Fri 07-Dec-18 12:13:54

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 12:16:22

I see knife crime in England is still on the rise. I really don’t know why the English are doing that to each other. Do you not think you should sort yourself out, purits?

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 12:17:15

It is not defeatist, there has been an ongoing conflict for 800 years. The potential terrorists aren't going to go away just because you say so.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 12:18:16

Defeatist attitude? So what do expect the everyday Joe Blogss to do? We know all hell would break loose if a border was enforced. Acknowledging this does not make us defeatist. We can not prevent certain groups acting as they will. Do you remember the troubles at all? Do you think that happened because the normal every day bloke was too defeatist?

fiadhflower Fri 07-Dec-18 12:19:03

The point is the NI border is basically invisible. The other borders you mention aren’t invisible - they are policed, patrolled etc.

People cross the NI/ROI border to go to school, work, hospital etc several times a day and many don’t see it as going to a different country. There are farms where the border cuts them in half, but it’s invisible so the farmers can move between their fields without passports.

A physical border is very different - it would make people’s lives more difficult (queues etc, not to mention the political implications) and NI didn’t vote for that. They’ve been lumped with a horrible situation because people in England etc didn’t stop to think about NI when voting for Brexit.

Brocade Fri 07-Dec-18 12:20:14

Do solve it for us, purits. Tell us the magical solution to the long-reaching effects of colonialism. Or hop into your time machine to 1609 and prevent the plantation of Ulster.

purits Fri 07-Dec-18 12:25:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

bellinisurge Fri 07-Dec-18 12:26:16

Oh dear @purits , are the naughty Irish people spoiling your Brexit feelings?

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 12:27:45

I know, it's a disgrace. I'd be embarrassed.

At being occupied? Well some people objected, put up a bit of a fight, but they were given a name. wink

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 12:28:14

Just FYI, I'm not even Irish. I don't harp on about history. I just know what happened and have observed how it has been improved. But I see you're just a gf with no real interest in learning or actually solving the problem.

mathanxiety Fri 07-Dec-18 12:29:26

There is tension wrt the border because when it was first drawn on the map by an imperial power it was imposed against the will of the majority on the island. There is a strong feeling both north and south of the border that it is illegitimate.

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 12:30:26

I know, it's a disgrace. I'd be embarrassed I take it you’re embarrassed about the aforementioned rise of knife crime in England, then purist? After all, it’s collective guilt, your talking about. YOU should be ashamed that the English are stabbing each other. Sort it purust, will you?

1tisILeClerc Fri 07-Dec-18 12:36:54

If there is prosperity for all across the whole island of Ireland, ultimately the issue of a border may fade away as an unhappy piece of history. This time is not now, and it may be many tens of years before it gets that way so for the moment it needs treating with respect.

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 12:47:00

Antidotally speaking, from the conversations I’ve been having with my fellow Irish people in the North of Ireland, the balls up that is Brexit is making them lean more towards a united Ireland. If that happens then the uk is going to continue to shrink and be more insular.

dippledorus Fri 07-Dec-18 12:52:59

direct your friend to Paddy Kielty's excellent twitter piece on this subject which will explain it far better than I can.

PennyMordauntsLadyBrain Fri 07-Dec-18 13:00:38

purits showing a smashing display of the anti-Irish sentiment that was flagged a few weeks ago.

The “border” here isn’t manned- there’s no queues or huts for checkpoint agents. There’s barely even a sign- it’s just a continuation of the same motorway. You simply can’t compare it to the Canadian border, because of the unique circumstances which caused it to be set up in the first place.

DH crosses the border every morning for work, along with hundreds of other normal commuters, farmers and students going along their daily business.

I honestly believe people from the rest of the UK should have to do a quick quiz on the history of the Troubles before they’re allowed to comment on this issue- the ignorance displayed even from senior government officials on NI is farcical.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 13:00:56

I’ve reported some of the posts on this thread for their obvious offensivesness and deliberate goading.

I’ve also reported the OP as I don’t believe it was started in good faith at all. I suspect a new attempt at stirring up bad feeling after the recent threads discussing anti Irish sentiment.

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 13:05:40

This is an excellent explanation of Brexit.

Here’s Paddy Kielty

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 13:09:14

Sorry VictoryOrValhalla. Just in case you actually think I have a problem with English people, I was trying to show how ridiculous purist was being. I’ve had enough of the collective bullshite to last me a lifetime. Sarcasm doesn’t come across in type.

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 13:12:52

No perf, not your posts at all!

VictoryOrValhalla Fri 07-Dec-18 13:13:30

I understand what you were doing with those posts.

PositivelyPERF Fri 07-Dec-18 13:17:02

Thank you. smile

kenandbarbie Fri 07-Dec-18 13:33:43

Well done mnhq on deleting those goady posts!

dippledorus Fri 07-Dec-18 13:47:23

Thank you @mnhq!!!

GD12 Fri 07-Dec-18 13:57:05

Didn't read the full thread but how can the UN get involved in a border that doesn't exist? If the UK put a border in and the UN "polices" it, the UK have still put a border in, its a border and you can kiss goodbye to the GFA and will be looking at the troubles starting up again.

Eyewhisker Fri 07-Dec-18 14:19:13

I’ll take the OP at face value.

The reason why there would be a problem with a hard border is that many people in ‘Northern Ireland’ believe that Ireland as an island is a single country.

Ireland was invaded and occupied by Britain for centuries. A war was fought 100 years ago, after which Britain withdrew from most of the country. However, it held onto a corner of the country which had a high percentage of the descendants of British settlers (the Protestant/Unionist population).

To the non-settler population, a good analogy would be drawing an international border between Kent and Hampshire and telling the people of Kent that they were no longer English as England started after Kent. The people of Kent I’m sure would be outraged.

So the short answer is that there is tension because the border was artificially imposed by a foreign country and did not reflect the views of Irish people.

This situation is not unique. Palestine and India where the British also decided to play map-drawing have similar tensions.

There are interesting questions as to why the Protestant population didn’t mix with the native Irish. This is common with many British colonies e.g. America, India, Australia but not with other countries e.g. Spain/Portugal where there was much intermarriage with the ‘natives’

Heatherjayne1972 Fri 07-Dec-18 14:27:02

Not my intention to stir up anything
As i said my friend asked me a question I didn’t have an answer for
So I asked people who know more than me. - you lot

bellinisurge Fri 07-Dec-18 17:29:05

@Heatherjayne1972 - shouldn't you and your friend be asking yourself why the heck you didn't know this already. Assuming you were both old enough to vote in the 2016 referendum. How could either of you voted without knowing this?

FishesaPlenty Fri 07-Dec-18 17:56:35

To the non-settler population, a good analogy would be drawing an international border between Kent and Hampshire and telling the people of Kent that they were no longer English as England started after Kent. The people of Kent I’m sure would be outraged.

Not as outraged as the people of Sussex and Surrey would be. You've just written them out of existence!

Rdoo Fri 07-Dec-18 19:08:07


I'm from a border area, grew up about half a mile from it. All my family still in the area. It's an issue because a almost half of people in Northern Ireland consider themselves Irish, not British. The border area would be almost exclusively contain people who consider themselves Irish.

If you erect a border you are cutting off people from their country.
Those who would erect a border would be British - to the people of those communities they are foreigners. There are foreigners coming to their country to cut them off from the rest of their country.

Think about it like the French erecting a border around Surrey. How would English people feel?

OlennasWimple Fri 07-Dec-18 19:21:13

Just to chip in on the UN point...

Although it wasn't the UN, there was significant international leadership involved in brokering the negotiations which led to the Good Friday Agreement. Bill Clinton was prominently involved, but also George Mitchell (a US senator), Richard Haass (a US diplomat) and others behind the scenes to help achieve the fomerly impossible

Linwin Fri 07-Dec-18 19:22:07

The short answer is Identity. I live in NI, it’s not just that I work in Dublin and drive down every day for work, so a border would be a pita. I have an Irish passport. I identify as Irish. A key part of the Good Friday Agreement was Ireland giving up its claim over NI but instead people in NI were allowed to identify as Irish or British or both if they wish.
There can never be a border here again, it is simply not possible due to the identity provisions of the GFA, this is a very unique situation and is not replicated anywhere else in the world. Support for the GFA here is overwhelming, if only our politicians would get back to work and start representing us properly.

By the way, the DUP do not speak for NI on the issue of the backstop. Many here welcome the WA provisions for the backstop if it means an economic boost for an area that has been deprived for so long. I’ve seen representatives from small business, farming and industry here all saying this.

mathanxiety Fri 07-Dec-18 19:30:07

Your friend needs to read up on quite a lot, including the border between North and South Korea. The UN is not involved there at all, and to my knowledge never has been

The DMZ is policed by forces from North and South, each staring balefully at the other across a no man's land, with very twitchy fingers on various hot buttons and triggers.

The peace, and also the pressure on North Korea, is kept by a significant US military presence in South Korea on land, in the sea and the air.

bellinisurge Fri 07-Dec-18 19:30:54

I would be embarrassed to admit I didn't know anything about this.

1tisILeClerc Fri 07-Dec-18 19:42:29

{The DMZ is policed by forces from North and South, each staring balefully at the other across a no man's land, with very twitchy fingers on various hot buttons and triggers.}
I have been to the S Korean side and you can watch the N Korean soldiers patrolling up and down. The DMZ is about 1Km or so wide. Feels quite odd somehow.

FishesaPlenty Fri 07-Dec-18 19:50:15

Your friend needs to read up on quite a lot, including the border between North and South Korea. The UN is not involved there at all, and to my knowledge never has been

The US and S Korea troops patrolling the border were under direct UN control until the late 70s. They're still carrying out their duties on behalf of the UN.

Positi Fri 07-Dec-18 19:55:37

Because, Ireland is an island and was invaded by Britain and colonised. Collins sent to negotiate due to DeValera's weakness, agreed to hand over 6 Irish counties to Britain. A lot of people in those 6 counties disagreed with this.
In Northern Ireland (the 6 counties), there was a class and religious divide, based on the planted Lords (protestants) and the native Irish (Catholics).
Catholics were mistreated appallingly over the decades since that divide and they rebelled.
The IRA was originally Ireland's legitimate army. However, after the divide, when the 6 counties came under British rule, and hence British police, the IRA became the name for a breakaway paramilitary movement.
Thus comments several decades of bombings in NI and Britain (and Bloody Sunday in the South and at least one bomb that I can recall in Dublin in the 70's).
It became tit for tat guerilla warfare.
What preceded this was 800 years of occupation of Ireland by British.
There was a border which was patrolled by British Army Soldiers in the 70's 80's and early 90's (not sure whether it was there in the 60's).

Eventually, after years of negotiations, they both decided to down arms. Tanks were removed from Belfast and the IRA cease fire.

If you want to know what Bloody Sunday was, Bono sings about it, google it, but it was basically where a british tank went into Ireland's national stadium and opened fire on civilian spectators merely watching a Gaelic football match.

That's why Ireland is different. Tensions were and probably still are high. Peace is hung by a silk thread. All over 6 little counties in Ireland. But Britain would not relinquish control.

And there you have it. The NI debacle in a nutshell. Probably loads I haven't included, but that's the basics of it as I understand them to be.

Then you had things like the Guildford 4? Remember them? Years spent in prison as innocents.

Lots of British army atrocities. Lots of atrocities by the IRA.

America got involved. Not sure that the UN ever did to be honest. Happy for someone to correct me on that.

blubberyboo Fri 07-Dec-18 20:07:35

To put it as basically to your friend as possible to help him are driving along in your car at 70 miles per hour in northern dont reduce speed at all ...then suddenly you are in the republic of Ireland and you continue your journey at 70 miles per hour..( or 120 km per hour as the road signs change) is invisible..Just the same as driving between England and Scotland.....and this keeps the peace and stops the killing .It has worked just fine for 20 years.

If the UN or anybody else was " managing" the border the car would have to slow down and stop...big no no for peace. Their presence would actually CAUSE conflict.

blubberyboo Fri 07-Dec-18 20:42:50

@eyewhisker just on your note about intermarriage i would just like to point out that there is indeed much intermarriage between Catholics and protestants in NI it is usually just ignored in politics and media as it doesnt serve either sides individual agenda. In fact such ppl used to be considered traitors by their " own side" and suffered persecution

I myself am the product of such a union and i was born in 1979. My mother is protestant daughter of an orangeman and my father is a catholic. Indeed many of his siblings intermarried too and i have many friends nowadays who intermarry or who themselves are the product of intermarriage from 70s or 80s

To confuse matters further sometimes my mother votes for the SDLP a nationalist party and my father has been known to vote for the DUP if a certain councillor has helped him sort a social problem etc..

Personally i am grateful to have grown up with a broad balanced view of both sides.

SgtFredColon Fri 07-Dec-18 21:57:56

If you want to know what Bloody Sunday was, Bono sings about it, google it, but it was basically where a british tank went into Ireland's national stadium and opened fire on civilian spectators merely watching a Gaelic football match.

Bono’s Bloody Sunday is the other one (where British soldiers opened fire on a bunch of unarmed civilians in Derry during the civil rights march)

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