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date: 30 March 2023

The Irish Borderlocked

The Irish Borderlocked

  • Milena KomarovaMilena KomarovaSchool of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast
  •  and Katy HaywardKaty HaywardSchool of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen's University Belfast


The emergence, development, and transformation of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland reveals much about the changing nature of nation-statehood over the century that followed its creation. In its own way, it is also a subject of innovation. The three interrelated strands of relationships safeguarded by the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement of 1998 in many ways define the border. These relationships run within and between the two islands of Ireland and Britain, and also between the two political traditions in Northern Ireland. Nationalists and Unionists have come to define much of their ethos in relation to the symbolic meaning of the Irish border: The former want the border removed and the latter see the border as necessary to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. This helps to understand the prominence given to the Irish border in the context of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), as well as the controversy around the terms of the U.K.–EU Withdrawal Agreement, which changed the nature of the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom as well as between Northern Ireland and Ireland. As a consequence of Brexit, the future of borders in and around Ireland—their openness and their governance—will be inevitably shaped by the vicissitudes of the EU–U.K. relationship.


  • Political Geography

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