As the deadline inches closer for the United Kingdom to solve the border problem in Ireland in the wake of its removal from the European Union, there has been a lot of talk in the news. It is a bitter divorce where one side does not want to give an inch to the other side. One question remains is what to do with the Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement the border has been essentially invisible. The Good Friday Agreement has the status of both an international treaty between the UK and Ireland as well as an agreement of the parties within Northern Ireland. George Mitchell, an architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has warned that creating a border control system between Ireland and Northern Ireland could jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement. The British government has said that Brexit will not mean a return of the hard border. According to statements by Theresa May, it is intended to maintain this arrangement after the United Kingdom leaves the EU. However, a joint plan to allow British immigration controls to be applied at Irish ports and airports was abandoned.

Right now you can take a train from Dublin to Belfast and do not have to see any immigration checkpoints or clear through customs. When you between London and Paris via the train you will clear through immigration. I wanted to know what the citizens feel about the border issue. I watched a show called Soft Border Patrol on the BBC. It was a reality comedy like Reno 911 in America. It portrays a fictional border patrol agency backed by governments in London, Dublin, and Belfast, and Brussels based around the subject of the Ireland-United Kingdom border in a post-Brexit world. It pokes fun at the issues at the border. One episode they detained a fish to see if it was an Irish fish or a British fish. The episode where a checkpoint was set up and they stopped a hen party (Bachelorette Party) was hilarious. Even they the are joking about the issue, it remains a serious concern for the residents on the issue.

The border towns do not want a return to the border checkpoints. The conflict in Northern Ireland is still too recent and could spark back up on the slightest misstep. As I traveled from Northern Ireland back into Ireland, you can see signs wanting to keep the status quo. Although most of the people in London, I talked to before the vote said they were going to vote to leave the EU.

I rode with a cab driver named Jerry in Belfast where he showed me around the city. I asked him questions about the Brexit and how it might affect him. He told me although he lives in Northern Ireland which is part of the UK, he considers himself Irish and since the Good Friday Agreement, the residents that live in Northern Ireland can choose if they want to be British or Irish. He holds an Irish passport and it thinks it is going to be silly once Brexit happens, that he could catch a plane in Belfast and land in Germany and he will not have to clear customs but the British passenger on the same plane will have to go through immigration controls.

I stopped in the town of Oughterard located in the beautiful Connemara region of western Ireland. While we were walking around the town I came across a barber shop. I needed a haircut, so I stopped in. As most people do when they get a haircut, they chat with the barber. Usually, the topic is about sports, but I really wanted his take on Brexit and how what his opinion was. It is his belief that the Prime Mister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May used up all her political capital in the negotiations and she will be ousted from power. He believes they will be a second referendum to pull out of Brexit. It is a mess.

The prime minister is in a tough spot. Theresa May took over after David Cameron resigned after the vote to guide the country through Brexit. She not only has to strike a deal with the European Union, but she also had to get the deal approved by parliament and ratified at the EU summit by a supermajority of leaders of member states. They have to hammer out new trade deals with trading partners that been dealing with the European Union as a whole.

This also affects the aviation industry. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) currently works on behalf of European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) in regulating aviation safety and certification in the UK. The UK wishes to remain with EASA, however, if the EU does not allow that, the UK will no longer be included in EU-level Bilateral Aviation Safety and new agreements would have to work out between the countries that have agreements with the EU such as the United States. In July, Ireland’s prime mister Leo Varadkar told Theresa May in the event of a hard Brexit, that British Planes would not be able to land or fly over Ireland. Under the Chicago Convention, aircraft from signatory countries have right to overfly another signatory country’s airspace, and this will continue after a no-deal Brexit. However, flights between the UK and the remaining 27 EU member states will be grounded the event of a hard Brexit unless a side deal covering aviation is struck according to the Independent.

One of the stickiest topics in negotiations remains how to meet the UK and EU’s common aim of keeping an open border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Looks like progress

Time is ticking on a solution, Brexit happens on March 29, 2019, and the last European Council Summit of the year to vote on the deal takes place December 14. Buckle up because it is going to be an interesting six months.

Update 9/22/2018- EU ‘to control British aviation AFTER Brexit’ as May steps over red line. BRITAIN will seek to remain in an aviation safety body under the indirect jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice after Brexit, crossing another one of Theresa May’s “red lines”. By ZOIE O’BRIEN . In order to prevent disruption to planes after Brexit the UK is expected to ask to be part of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Shane is a retired Navy Chief and a former Deputy Sheriff. He now works in the aviation field ensuring the safety of the flying public. The views expressed here are his own personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer.

One Comment on “A Walk Through Belfast’s Troubled Past: Irish border question

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