Anyone up for creating a solution to the Irish Border problem?
I love a challenge, so here’s my first go — see my disclosure below.
As the only solution for this that will work will be one with public support, this is a call to crowd-source ideas, so please do add comments and share with any other armchair negotiators, democrats, techs, Irish Republicans, Unionists, Irish Americans… — in fact anyone with a passing interest in a negotiated settlement. I would like to know what looks good, any drawbacks, and any suggestions for improvement.
Full disclosure — my wife and children are Irish passport holders. I proposed in Ireland and had my honeymoon in Ireland. Our cousins are Irish. However I am English. So I have a personal interest in making sure there is not just no return to a hard border in Ireland, but no descent into conflict between Ireland or any of the countries of the UK.
I decided to have a crack at a solution after I heard one of the negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement, Jonathan Powell, saying that the problem was, that no-one had yet presented a solution to the UK being outside the EU that did not require either physical border infrastructure in Ireland or leaving Northern Ireland effectively in the EU — and a descent into conflict would almost inevitably result.
I am sure others have proposed solutions, but none have been officially proposed, and more importantly none have support and trust from the key parties affected, namely the Irish and Northern-Irish publics — this is the aspect that is most glaringly absent from solutions presented so far.
If Powell is right, and removal of border infrastructure and free movement has maintained peace in the last 20 years, then finding a practical solution to maintaining that state regardless of Brexit is an uncontroversially worthwhile goal.
Equally for a civic-tech developer like me, supporting difference and devolution without the need for inefficient, slow, paper-based checks at physical borders is a problem ripe for the modern civic-tech community to resolve. Hence I propose we should grasp this rare opportunity of necessity to be the mother of invention, to make borderless trade a present day reality.
This is not a finished article, but a working document for the many better minds than me to chip in their wits to make the impossible — reality.