Why is the
significance of the Common Travel Area being largely ignored when it is so
relevant to the current Brexit debate?
Travel Area is an Agreement, an arrangement between the
United Kingdom and Ireland that allows people born in Cork or
Killarney to pack their belongings, hop on a boat or plane heading east, or a car or train up north; to live, work and reap the British benefits available in Bristol, Aberdeen or Coleraine.
And it even
works exactly the same the other way round: from UK to Ireland. It has been in place for
the benefit of British and Irish alike since shortly after the Irish
Free State was formed in 1922. It has been regularly updated and
It is the
CTA that has created the situation today where there are currently
more residents of Great Britain who can apply for an Irish passport than
there are Irish citizens residing in the Republic of Ireland. It has
recently been estimated that there are at least 6 or 7 million GB
residents who can hold an Irish passport: they only need to have one
grandparent who was born on the Emerald Isle.
significance of this is that it also means they can hold an EU
passport post-Brexit: hence the recent scramble for Irish passports.
Once Northern Ireland is added to this mix then we could be talking
about 8 to 10 million UK citizens who will still have the option to live and work
in the EU. I haven't heard this debated much recently. Probably because it's not really much of an
issue as a post-Brexit EU will no doubt welcome all Brits, who love the
EU, to continue living working and paying taxes to their central
authority in Brussels. The CTA already addresses complex issues
regarding rights and the paying of taxes etc.
the CTA is to also understand what a futile waste of time and life
the recent 'Troubles' have been for all concerned. At least for all concerned apart from the few who initiated and fueled the conflict. The CTA means that the relationship between the ROI and NI is the same as the relationship between the ROI and the
rest of the UK. The relevance of that is worth pondering further on
EU Referendum campaign I was also struck that the CTA was seldom used
to counter the EU propaganda that Brexit would lead to a hard Irish
border and re-stoke tribal conflict. I suspect a large chunk of
Northern Irish voters went to the polls believing the hard border story and didn't think
too much about the difference between the movement of
people and the movement of goods.
modern technology was the solution to the monitoring of goods, the
CTA, and the fact that ROI was also not a member of the EU's Schengen
Area, should have been enough to convince people that a post-Brexit
hard Irish border was totally unnecessary. Seems like there are
quite a few who still do not understand this or don't want to understand it.
significance of the CTA is also important for other reasons that are
being ignored. I believe this Agreement has helped to improve Irish/British relationships over the past century. It has facilitated
the settling of a few million Irish people in Britain and their marrying and
raising of families: many of whom became more British than the Brits
themselves. A look at the family background of many prominent
pro-Brexit campaigners in Britain, I believe, would confirm this fact.
To add to
this positive British/Irish mixing-up: during the booming Celtic Tiger years many
flocked across the sea for work opportunities and the mingling
continued with enthusiasm. Anglo-Irish mingling on such a scale has
not been experienced in Ireland since the Anglo-Normans arrived in
Ireland in the 12th Century. They reportedly became more
Irish than the Irish themselves.
The more than one hundred thousand welcomes the Irish people bestowed upon the Queen and
members of the Royal Family during recent visits to Ireland, have
been the icing on the cake. That cake
however has been crumbling due to the Irish political elite standing in solidarity with their EU masters over Brexit. That's my opinion anyway.
though the CTA remains very important as we all wait with bated
breath to hear how Boris Johnston is going to square what he
whispered in the ear of Leo Varadkar with the totally different thing
he whispered in the ear of Arlene Foster. The full significance of
the CTA is perhaps not being considered by us British and Irish but
its importance has certainly not been overlooked by the brains of
I have to
confess I have read through most of the proposed Withdrawal Treaty
and even read through the Irish Protocol section a few times. I
wouldn't recommend it. It's a painful read. The Common Travel Area does get addressed by the EU and my interpretation of Article 5 of that Irish
Protocol is that the European Court of Justice would forever have a
final say over the CTA. I suppose their rationale is that the CTA would become a legal agreement between the UK and part of the
This is in
addition of course to the contentious 'Backstop' which would leave
Northern Ireland in a limbo land until such times as it would cave-in
and surrender to the EU's central authority. Also worth noting that
Theresa's attempt to address the furious response to the 'Backsop', with her 'Unilateral Declaration' was futile. It was deemed 'not
legally binding' by the EU.
lawyer but the reference to the CTA in the Withdrawal Agreement read to me like another way for
the EU and its ECJ to retain some jurisdiction and influence over the
internal affairs of the UK. If some legal expert can explain why I am
wrong on this I will be relieved. I will be relieved as there does
seem a reasonable possibility that Boris's deal with the EU will
merely be a camouflaged version of Theresa's deal with the EU.
happens with Brexit: and whether we consider ourselves British,
Irish, or both, we should all be hoping that the Common Travel Area
continues to provide mutual benefit without possibility of it being used
and abused from out beyond. It's now time for our politicians to stop ignoring its significance.