As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, it has become ever clearer, not just that Brexit has profound consequences for Ireland, but that Irish issues have profound consequences for Brexit. Ireland is strongly committed to remaining in the EU, and is thus set to become its only English-speaking member state.
After Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will suddenly become a major international frontier. The peace process that culminated in the Good Friday Agreement 20 years ago has made the border largely invisible. This has been a crucial contributor to the normalising of life on the island of Ireland. But Brexit threatens to bring back a hard border — a development all sides say they abhor but no one seems to know how to avoid. This is why the Irish question has become the single most important factor in shaping Brexit. As Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland wait for Britain to provide an exit strategy, tensions are rising. How can Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic prepare for Brexit? Can Northern Ireland reject Brexit and fight to maintain EU ties? How will these EU-related decisions affect relations between the two? And what does this problem tell us about the crisis of English identity that has led to this extraordinary moment in the entangled history of Ireland and Britain? Fintan O’Toole, historical writer, political commentator, and columnist for the Irish Times, will discuss the consequences Brexit may have for Ireland.
Fintan has won both the European Press Prize and the Orwell Prize for his writings on Brexit and his book Brexit: The Politics of Pain will be published in November. While in the Bay Area, Fintan O’Toole will also join 15 visiting writers and poets from Ireland at the third annual Irish Arts & Writers Festival, Los Gatos. Fintan will read from and sign his new highly informative and entertaining book, “Judging Shaw”, at Montalvo Arts Center, Friday Oct. 12th. More info at www.irishartsfestival.com
Journalist, The Irish Times
CEO, World Affairs and Global Philanthropy Forum; Vice President, The Aspen Institute
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