I was only ruminating in jest recently that the border between Norneverland and the rest of the Irish island was really only a state of mind. At best it is an imaginary construct anyway . Northern nationalists never really bought into it ,no matter the political machinations in the UK, the current shape of the Republic of Ireland, or indeed the famously cobbled-together state that Norneverland itself, actually is.After all It was chopped out of Ireland to suit a northern unionist agenda who lived in fear of being subsumed by Catholicism and a continuing array of “Wee Popes, wooden shoes and brass money”. That’s the kind of “visionary” pablum that Ian Paisley Senior(when there was only one!) fed to his followers throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. Indeed , the statelet was chopped out by force of threatened rebellion. Northern Nationalists have never really been encouraged by any of the unionist parties to join them in in their unique vision, and in fact, Northern Nationalists don’t really see unionism’s position as ultimately properly viable anyway , given that they are economically supported by a largely unknowing and unknowledgeable UK populace, who might actually change their minds at any moment . Post- Brexit referendum from the EU, in the UK they are already doing much soul-searching as to how their money is being spent and where their jobs and industries are going ….and how “foreigners” are stealing their “rightful” jobs.We , Irish might not feel like foreigners but we are certainly not English and it is that “Little Englander” quality that the Brexit vote has revealed.
Nationalists might feel that it is only a matter of time before those who voted to exit the EU might eventually turn their gaze to Norneverland and its ever- outstretched hands ,as they scrape about for spare coin in the bottom of the money-barrel. Previously , British Prime Minister ,Harold Wilson ,referred to them as “spongers”, after all.Nationalists , generally have been prepared to wait it out until such times as they can politically negotiate the re-unification of their own island from greater strength. I imagine that this is the work in progress.
Of course we now live in rapidly changing times where half the population in the UK have decided to leave the EU, even though they have no real notion what that will mean for their future prospects .In Norneverland , we know that it will inevitably mean some radical changes when the break comes, because below our imaginary border , our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland are staying within the folds of the EU .This will inevitably mean that across the roads , fields and rivers, nothing will be in place to stop the percolating trade and movement of people between the EU and non-EU. That leaves us with the only land trade-border anywhere in Europe to contend with between the EU and the Non EU..
Although the very conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) urged their supporters to vote to leave the EU , they never seemed to explain how our agricultural industry would survive without the EU’s input in the future. Instead the DUP ran with the UK rump of those Conservatives who urged a “leave” vote and appear like those in the UK who voted leave to have given no thought as to the eventual repercussions of leaving the EU. They are all now scrambling about for a “PLAN”. The rest of us are waiting with bated breath to see this Big Idea.
Although the average DUP supporter , especially those living miles away from the border,would love nothing better than a “hard” border with barbed- wire and watchtowers along every 100 metres or so , searchlights scoping the night sky and passports and access controlled by an evolved version of the good old unionist Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR ) re-branded for the 21st century; extra part-time overtime money for the faithful , manning their posts and zooming about in wee green jeeps playing soldiers…Even the leaders of the DUP know it is all an impractical dream. Who would want it except for the real nutjobs? Who would fund it? …The British Government? …Certainly not the EU. There’ll be no more money coming from that direction. Indeed the roads and fields will gradually begin to resemble goat-tracks as the century proceeds ,until we get back to the lovely , quirky nostalgic pot-holes of pre-1970’s yore. Should we ask the UK voter to spend a few pounds from their taxes to pay for any of this , the spotlight would really be swung on Norneverland again. .No …I imagine a hard border is a fantasy in this new scenario…..but what to do in this very unique situation?
Already Theresa May, the current British Prime Minister, has made noises to the effect that after Brexit , Britain will leave the the European single market and they will also leave the EU customs union too.So if they leave the customs union how will they monitor the practicalities of goods crossing the “imaginary” border between the two parts of Ireland ….from the Republic into Norneverland …and vice- versa? The words “Special Status” are already being bandied about , which is par for the course, considering the kind of open lunatic asylum Norneverland has become, what with it’s gangster fiefdoms , its forty foot “Peace Walls” and its various zones of apartheid which cannot be policed. .
In the south of the island, the Tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald is also speaking of “special status”, mentioning that the EU would need to be fully informed as to the unique position that Ireland(I’m assuming she means the whole island here) has with Britain and the common travel and various familial relationships between the two places.Minister of Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan , wants the “special position” written up in the law books as part of the future arrangements when Britain bales out of the EU aeroplane.Many feel that the Good Friday Agreement should actually be null and void now that the situation has so radically changed ; given that one of the main “bankers”(the EU) which was in place for that particular peace -deal, will now no longer be involved. It’s a fact that EU money and EU legislation , smoothed out many of the inter-community human rights problems and acted as a buffer between unionist and nationalist extremes ; it’s also a fact that especially in the Loyalist community there has been precious little political movement since that agreement was first signed, so they could remain especially volatile , essentially unchecked by the police in future times .
Our First Mnister of Norneverland , or should I say ,our “Joint First Ministers” are actually pulling in opposite directions in all of this, but certainly one of the heads of this unique two-headed PushmepullyoudoG ,in the shape of Arlene Foster ,appears to think that modern technology will save the day. She says : “We shouldn’t be looking backwards at borders. We should be looking at new borders in terms of using data, using analytics, using new technology in a way that we haven’t here before”.
Now , I don’t know about the details of this grand vision but I’m not sure how any of this will stop people smuggling goods across the border or people hopping back and forth between north and south or even from further afield through this neat little EU back -door. Is this gradually going to evolve into a situation where passports will be “old hat” anyway and we’ll all just be issued with a personal electronic identity card containing all the details and quirks of , blood-type, DNA, criminal record or otherwise and various personality quirks.
Maybe we’ll all be electronically “chipped” at birth like our pet cats and dogs….no borders we can see ,but less freedom than before then, eh?