The backstop and technology


A chara, – Newton Emerson claims the Border “is primarily a political problem” (“Irish and EU must stop ridiculing Border technology”, Opinion & Analysis, February 7th).

It is not primarily, it is 100 per cent a political problem. Most borders in the world are. The border running across Korea is another painful example of a border that was political rather than natural.

The problem we are all facing is that most people who live along the border in Ireland never wanted it and still don’t.

Where does one put the technological solutions to a border in Jonesborough in Co Armagh where the border is half-way up the off-ramp from the M1 motorway?

Once a driver reaches the top of the road from the off-ramp and turns right, it leads them to a flyover over the motorway – the next border crossing is in the middle of the flyover bridge across the motorway!

There is no easy solution for putting customs and immigration controls on motorway off-ramps and flyovers.

Oh, and one last thing – 50 per cent of all traffic heading north crosses the border near Jonesborough. That is an awful lot of traffic to have to stop and control. – Is mise,




Sir, – The December 2017 EU-UK joint report concluding the first phase of Brexit negotiations committed that “in all circumstances” (Article 46), including “in the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement”.

This report, agreed by UK negotiators and accepted by its government and parliament in full knowledge of the facts and consequences, outlines the clear and express intent around any future relationship. A subsequent House of Commons briefing paper (No 8183) refers to the “‘in all circumstances’ backstop”.

Ultimately, both parties expressed a clear intent to avoiding a hardening of the Border through dealing with its root cause; by maintaining “full alignment” across the island as the default position, even in the absence of any agreement(s) on a way forward.

This seems to be lost among current discourse, leading to increased concern and anxiety in Border communities and among businesses, farmers and citizens.

Perhaps the parties could be reminded to revisit their commitments to “maintain full alignment” on this island in the absence of “agreed solutions”. – Yours, etc,