Ulster’s fight, Ulster’s rights?

Before the UK’s Brexit referendum a year ago, few British politicians paid any attention to the problems that Brexit might cause for Northern Ireland. But the future border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have now emerged as one of the key issues in the UK’s withdrawal negotiations. Edward Burke of the University of Portsmouth examines the impact of Brexit on the province.

Among the key points: Brexit has shaken the foundations of the peace process in Northern Ireland. Irish nationalists in the province believe that the constitutional changes it requires will reverse many of the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.

The DUP says that it wants Northern Ireland to leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK. It also says that it does not want a ‘hard border’ with Republic of Ireland. But if Theresa May sticks to her stated aim of leaving the single market and the customs union, there will have to be some sort of border.

A distinctive status for Northern Ireland after Brexit, committing London and the 27 to maintaining many of the EU’s programmes for Northern Ireland, would help to limit the fallout from the UK’s exit.

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