Brexit and the Border


Sir, – The attack by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds on Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney for allegedly “going backwards” and being “incoherent” and “intemperate” on the Irish Border problem (Home News, July 31st) is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

As previously reported by Amanda Ferguson, the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster has publicly acknowledged that “Northern Ireland could have a different relationship to the EU’s single market or customs union from the rest of the UK following its exit from the EU”, and that can only mean “sea borders” of some sort.

Coming from a Border community she is clearly more aware of the real problems of a “hard” land border than some of her colleagues.

Mr Dodds does not address this key issue, but it’s a disaster waiting to happen, and perhaps especially for Northern Ireland (and my own county of Donegal).

The now substantially integrated all-island economy, and its Border-crossing production processes, trade, and commuting for instance, and the cross-Border bodies set up to carry the peace process, would be disrupted or severed.

Border posts would invite attacks from dissident republican paramilitaries. A supposedly “hard” but actually leaky border would give illegal access to the single market and make Ireland a smugglers’ bonanza. And that in itself would necessitate Britain and the continent having customs controls at their own ports and airports.

Retaining the present “frictionless”, “invisible” land border by technological means is either a pipe-dream or a Brexiteer smokescreen.

There is not space here to put the alternative case that island borders are the answer. But sea borders are the only genuine solution to safeguarding the all-island economy, the North’s trade links with the continent, and the South’s vital markets in Britain, especially for its agricultural products parts of which come from the North anyway. – Yours, etc,


Senator Mitchell Institute

for Global Peace, Security

and Justice,

Queen’s University Belfast.

Sir, – Leo Varadkar fires his first major salvo broadside into the Tory Brexit camp, stealing the traditional green march of the Soldiers of Destiny et al and capturing the Irish zeitgeist.

Do I sense a snap late autumn election? Carpe Diem Leo! – Yours, etc,


Julianstown, Co Meath.

Sir, – Brexit may be a British policy and not an Irish one. But this policy will deeply affect Ireland and her economic situation, both North and South of the Border.

With this in mind, it is just not good enough to “Still hope Brexit won’t happen” . The Taoiseach might want to take off his novelty socks and get down to business. By accepting the reality of our greatest economic challenge since the second World War, and start to take on the difficulties that Brexit will throw our way.

Brexit is happening, and while we may sit on the edge of Europe, Leo Varadkar should not let us completely slide off it, on his watch. – Yours, etc,


Clane, Co Kildare.

Sir, – We should run the border in the Celtic Sea from the English Channel to the Atlantic, with customs checks from Ireland to the rest of the EU being done on ferries and at airports with no delay to journey times.

Given Ireland is an EU member, its trade would pass freely. UK trade would satisfy post-Brexit rules, even though it was not yet crossing UK borders.

Ireland should negotiate EU agreement to allow free trade for Ireland with the UK – as existed under the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement before joining the Common Market – as a reasonable easing of the isolation from the rest of the EU that Ireland, uniquely, would suffer due to Brexit.

Ireland would remain a sovereign nation in Europe and the world.

The threat to the sensitivities of unionists from a border in the Irish Sea, making them feel isolated from the rest of the UK, with dire implications for conciliation and cooperation between us, would be avoided. It might even encourage a realisation that a united Ireland might not be such an unimaginable thing. – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Leo Varadkar’s remarks that the Brexiteers created the problem and they should solve it are ludicrous.

Yes, they did create the problem, but it’s our problem. They have no interest in Ireland North or South. It is up to our politicians and civil servants, hopefully co-operating with their Northern counterparts, to devise, propose, and argue for in Europe, the nearest we can get to a seamless border.

Simon Coveney’s suggestion that the border should be the Irish Sea is unhelpful, needlessly annoying to unionists and to Britain, and disregards the basic reality that a majority in Northern Ireland wish to remain in the UK, and a majority in the UK wish to leave the EU.

That means the economic border is on this island whether we, or anyone else, like it or not. – Yours, etc,


Sutton, Dublin 13

Sir, – I would like to congratulate Leo Varadkar on his remarks as reported (“Taoiseach delivers sharp message to London”, Home News, July 29th) .

The vast majority of the people of Ireland never sought a border in the first place, did not want it, and should not have to pay for it. If the people of England create a problem for themselves with Brexit, they should fix it themselves. – Yours, etc,


Stepaside, Dublin 18.

A chara, – If, as Reg Empey says (Home News, August 1st), the Irish Government are “playing with fire” over Brexit, where better to have the border than in the middle of the Irish Sea? – Is mise,


Kiltipper Road, Dublin 24.