Brexit and Ireland: study finds residents sceptical

brexit and ireland
© iStock/Beeldbewerking

Research has found that residents of Ireland and Northern Ireland have extensive reservations regarding the impacts of Brexit.

A report compiled by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast in collaboration with cross-border local government consortium the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN), titled ‘The border into Brexit: perspectives from local communities in the central border region of Ireland/Northern Ireland’, surveyed residents from both sides of the Irish border. Respondents expressed concern over the impact on Ireland and Northern Ireland of the UK’s leaving the EU, highlighting in particular the risk of damaging the peace process; as well as the overarching economic losses occasioned by uncertainty over Brexit.

Chair of ICBAN Councillor Pat Treanor said: “The border which runs through our region has been central to the debate about how Brexit might be implemented. What this report provides is a reference guide on the latest up to the minute research on key discussion topics, such as how the likes of a No-Deal scenario and the new protocol are impacting on communities here in the border region.”

Several of the survey’s participants said that uncertainty over the timing and economic implications of Brexit had led directly to employment issues, including job losses, difficulty recruiting new staff and lack of investment in businesses. Individuals and companies were reported to have delayed making economic decisions which would have contributed to growth and investment within the region.

Dr Katy Hayward, Reader from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University and co-author of the study, said: “The Withdrawal Agreement – objected to by all 18 newly-elected MPs from Northern Ireland – looks set to be ratified. And so Brexit appears likely to see change, to some degree, to borders all around Northern Ireland, as the new UK-EU relationship takes effect. In light of this, trust building and co-operation – North-South and British-Irish – will be more important than ever. The models and examples of such co-operation in the central border region, as presented in this report, are ones that should be valued and built upon.”

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