Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Tour of the Irish Border

We need to talk about the border is an interactive story map which takes you on a multi-media tour of the Irish border. Since the Good Friday Agreement in 1988 there has been only a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is the only land border between the UK and the EU. Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has by default become an external EU border. In theory it could once more become a hard border to support the infrastructure necessary to maintain custom checks for goods and people entering and leaving the EU. 

Elisabeth Blanchet & Laurent Gontier have traveled around the Irish border taking photographs and interviewing the people they met on the journey. 'We need to talk about the border' is an interactive story map which takes you on a photo-tour of the border. Overall the interviews with local people living along the border leaves you with a sense that there is an overwhelming sense of anger with the UK government for endangering the peace stemming from the Good Friday Agreement. 


In 2019 The Guardian created an animated map to show how much traffic passes across the Irish border every day. The Guardian's animated map visualizes the traffic crossing the border at 10 different locations during one hour on Monday 2nd, September 2019. A Typical Hour in the Life of the Irish Border uses data from under-wheel sensors at ten different locations on the border. The animated map helps to visualize the amount of activity on the Irish border. Traffic and trade which is likely to be seriously disrupted and slowed if a hard border is reintroduced between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 


The 1998 Belfast Agreement played an integral part in ending the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The worry is that a return to a hard border would destabilize the Belfast Agreement and could even reignite anger and violence. If anyone is in any doubt about the level of violence experienced along the old hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland they should check out the Irish Times' Explore the Border interactive map.

Explore the Border maps a sample of just some of the border incidents experienced during the Troubles. Click on a marker on the map and you are taken to one of the old crossings along the border. The map sidebar reports on any major violent incidents which occurred at this crossing. The number of bombings, shootings and arson attacks are also listed.

Explore the Border also uses Google Street View images of each mapped crossing on the border. This allows you to explore the border for yourself and highlights how a hard border would not only be difficult to implement but would be an ugly scar on a very beautiful country. 


Keith O’Faoláin has created an animated movie of the Irish border, Oh Border Where Art Thou. The movie uses satellite imagery to explore the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.Watching the movie it is very apparent that the current border is very 'soft'. There are very few hard geographical barriers between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Mostly the border just follows roads and fields.

The European Union and the United Kingdom have signed up to the Northern Ireland Protocol. An agreement that there will be no new checks on goods crossing the Irish border. Unionist and pro-Brexit politicians in Northern Ireland have tried to overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol, including trying to persuade the High Court of Northern Ireland to declare the Protocol unlawful.

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