EU rules for Irish border?

Brexit talks at an impasse over Irish hard border issue

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The origins of the Irish border


The meandering Irish land border runs for just under 500 km across the northern part of the island of Ireland. It divides the independent state of the Republic of Ireland from the six counties of Northern Ireland, a region of the United Kingdom. At 1.81m, the population of Northern Ireland constitutes 28% of the population on the island but just 3% of the United Kingdom. It was the Government of Ireland Act (1920) that first divided the island into two separate jurisdictions, each with its own government and parliament.

This act of partition was envisaged as an internal United Kingdom matter and as a temporary answer to the thorny question of contested sovereignty across the island. It was a solution that made sense in light of two overarching principles of contemporary democracy: nation-statehood and majoritarianism. The border was intended to create straightforward majorities on either side that reflected broadly different national sentiments. The island’s complex history as a site of contests for power and control – some of which battles had wide European resonances – was thus dramatically over-simplified and reduced into the division of the Irish border.

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