The island of Ireland after Brexit: the key issues

19 Oct 2017

The British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy have today published briefings on some of the key issues for UK-Ireland relations that must be addressed as the UK negotiates its withdrawal from the EU.

These briefings form part of a series harnessing the expertise in the humanities and social sciences to highlight issues for the UK and Ireland as the Brexit negotiations continue.

The briefings published today cover the history of the Irish land border, legal and political questions relating to the border today, rights in the context of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Common Travel Area.

Professor Ash Amin FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said:

“After Brexit, Northern Ireland will be in the unique position of sharing a border with a EU Member State, with serious implications for citizens, travel and trade, and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, among many other issues. These briefings are the first in a series which draw on the insight of leading minds in the social sciences and humanities to unravel some of the political complexities of Brexit.

“By shedding light on the history of the Irish land border, for example, our expertise can inform debate on any future border settlement, and by examining rights and the Good Friday Agreement, we can suggest how Brexit will reshape devolved government in Northern Ireland.

“We hope these briefings provide evidence, inform debate, and suggest solutions that will safeguard peace and prosperity across the island of Ireland as the Brexit negotiations continue.”

Professor Sally Wheeler, RIA Senior-Vice President of the Royal Irish Academy said:

“Working in partnership with our colleagues in the British Academy, we are delighted to launch this series of briefing papers, which we hope will play a critical role in informing public debate on the range topics that need to be addressed for both the island of Ireland, and for Irish-UK relations, as a result of Brexit.

"As an all-island body, the Royal Irish Academy, working closely with the British Academy, is ideally placed to convene and harness expert opinion as we begin to consider the full range of multifaceted issues arising from the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

"In doing so, we hope that this joint briefing series will perform a signal service to policymakers and negotiators, by providing evidence-based and solution-focused contributions aimed at creating successful post-Brexit outcomes for Ireland, Northern Ireland and the remainder of the UK.”

Read online or download the Brexit briefings:

These briefings form part of the British Academy's wide range of reports and briefings on European policy.

In March 2017 the RIA established a high-level Brexit Taskforce to consider the likely implications of the United Kingdom’s decision to exit from the European Union for higher education and research across the island of Ireland. This Taskforce was divided into two Working Groups (co-chaired by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, MRIA and Professor Gerry McKenna, MRIA) to explore the sector specific concerns and challenges arising from Brexit for the Irish and Northern Irish higher education systems respectively. 

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