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People, vehicles and sheep crisscross the border between Ireland and its British neighbour, Northern Ireland, everyday. There are no customs agents or security checkpoints, and that’s the way people like it. The invisible line and the lives wrapped around it have helped keep the peace along the once-bloody border for two decades. But some are worried that could change as Britain prepares its exit from the European Union.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom with a shared land border with Europe. Residents of the British province voted overwhelmingly against Brexit, concerned a harder border would hurt travel, commerce and the well-being of people who suffered through 30 years of “Troubles”. Now, it’s up to Northern Ireland’s parliament to voice their concerns in Brexit negotiations. The new trouble, however, is that the power-sharing government has collapsed.
A snap election on Thursday threatens to deepen divisions between the two main parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party. If that happens, London would take control of Northern Ireland’s affairs until they can work out a deal. The election and impending exit from the European Union have revived old wounds between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists, who want a united Ireland.
On the eve of the election, we’ll hear what people on both sides of the border want the future of Northern Ireland to look like.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Pearse Doherty @PearseDoherty
Sinn Fein parliament member for Donegal South West
Stephen Kelly @ManufacturingNI
CEO, Manufacturing NI
Colin Murray @NIConstitution
Senior lecturer in law, Newcastle University
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.