By Patrick Brogan
There are numerous opportunities and challenges Brexit presents to Ireland, both long and short term. Our biggest trading partner is leaving an organisation that has brought so much to Europe, but is now facing serious challenges. Ireland was coasting along for far too long, mainly depending on Britain and the EU. Now Britain is leaving. We don’t know what it will mean for Britain and it could be years before the true impact is felt, good or bad. How will a Britainless EU work and what will Ireland’s role be in this?
A World with Borders
Parts of the media gleefully told us that those that wanted to leave the union wanted to control their own border and control the number of people arriving in Britain, implying that anyone who voted for a departure from the EU was a racist. Of course, life is much more complicated than that and there were many reasons people voted to leave. The outcome is the same, though. Britain will have a new relationship with her borders. This includes the one around six traditionally troublesome counties in Ulster.
This will cause Ireland a serious headache if it became a “hard” border. The Good Friday agreement was one of the best achievements on this island and one that still has a positive effect to this day. But, the old tensions never vanished. This is most obvious on the Twelfth and Paddy’s Day. Many fear a hard border will act as both a symbol for paramilitary ideologies and a means of funding.
We’re still none the wiser as to what way trade will operate over this border. If taxes and tariffs become a widespread issue, somebody will exploit it, including paramilitaries. Police in Northern Ireland have already expressed fears about this. Recently, I was talking to a former Garda in Ballyshannon. He spoke about how the border was difficult to police because there are numerous little country roads that are hard to cover. With the reduced Gardaí and slashed funding this would now be impossible he said.
fucking off leaving means the economic situation will also change. Ireland is very dependent on Britain as it is our biggest trading partner, the world’s fifth largest economy and fellow European Union member. Now that will change. This will surely have a negative consequence for Irish exporters, but it produces opportunities, too. Mainly, large corporations are looking to leave London because of the uncertainty. Ireland, with a young, well educated, English speaking population is obviously an attractive destination for them. But there is one major problem preventing this influx; housing.
Ireland has a serious housing problem right now. Many have talked about the problems of supply and demand while ghost estates rot in the countryside. To put the problem into some perspective; it will take 180 years to clear the housing list in Dublin at the current levels. The infrastructure of Ireland is woefully ill prepared, transport in particular. One of the main reasons is Leo Varadkar. He cut funding to important transport projects when he was Minister for Transport. Now he is Taoiseach, this stance may come back to haunt him. Oops. Given Ireland’s lagging fortunes at that time, this would have been an ideal time to invest and attract foreign trade, rather than giving taxpayers’ money to the banks. Here is an interesting article that looks at both housing and infrastructure and how it might put off potential skilled employees coming here in favour of other European cities. Another important factor is our economy. We may pat ourselves on the back for rebuilding it, but we are by no means out-of-the-woods yet.
Ireland and the EU
Even before Britain decided to
fuck off leave the EU, some members of Irish society had been calling for Irexit; Ireland leaving the EU, there’s even a Facebook page. Part of the reason we have such poor infrastructure in this country is because of how we are set up as a nation. Ireland as an economy and society is set up to benefit from other larger countries using Ireland as a service. Leaving the EU will not change that. People can complain about the ECB and the bailouts and the fisheries, I’m one of them, but the reality is we can’t leave the European Union as things stand.
We are a year on from the 1916 Rising celebrations and approaching a century of freedom from British rule, but in that time, have we really reflected on true independence? I won’t get all misty-eyed patriotic, but subservience to the EU is not what the men and women who died for our independence gave their lives up for. We have sold their sacrifices to the highest bidder, along with any future prosperity. I don’t mean this in an economic sense neither, the soul of the country has been eroded through rampant corporatism.
We need to look at what real independence is. This would certainly involve pulling out of an undemocratic EU and handing power over to the people of Ireland through some form of direct democracy. We would also need to create our own currency and control it ourselves, not have it linked to or dependent upon another nation’s, like the Punt was. We must also look to our own resources, natural and human, only then will we not be at the whims of external events. All of this will take time, however.
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