Twenty years after the historic Northern Ireland agreement, Brexit threatens to derail progress to peace and prompt a return to the time of the troubles.
On 10 April 1998 the Good Friday agreement between Unionists and Irish Republicans was signed in Belfast. It was Tony Blair’s most striking political triumph, bringing to an end the time of the Troubles, which had cost the lives of over 3,000 people. The graffitti-covered “Peace Wall”, the last wall of its kind in Europe, divided Belfast’s Catholic and Protestant areas, and was scheduled to be demolished definitely in 2023, but after the Brexit vote the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle have to deal with a renewed feeling of uncertainty. In the British referendum Northern Ireland voted by a large majority to remain in the EU. If the UK leaves the organization many fear that the two Irelands will once again be separated by a hard border. In both Dublin and Belfast many are claiming special status for the whole island to preserve the unity achieved during the peace process, while London could re-impose direct rule over “its” Irish province.
If it does so then Sinn Fein intends to ask for a referendum on reunification for the whole of Ireland, which could pour petrol on a fire that has never really been completely extinguished.
( 2015 )