There are reports that in recent weeks people have been asked to prove their identity when crossing the border that divides Ireland. But there may be a way to prevent further identity checks. And it would involve the people of the entire island of Ireland.
Meanwhile, the so-called invisible border between the north and south no longer appears invisible, thanks to over-zealous border guards.
For example, there was the incident of a woman travelling south who tweeted her outrage when asked by guards to produce her passport or similar ID:
1//On a bus from Belfast back down to Dublin. Where I live. Have done for two years. Make this trip back and fourth all the time to see my family in the North. And at the English fucking border in Ireland. Guards boarded our bus and asked for passports
— Lola Petticrew (@LolaPetticrew) September 14, 2019
She added in the Twitter thread that she believed this had been going on for months.
In response, another person pointed out the legality – or lack thereof – when such demands are made:
There is no legal requirement for you to provide a passport/ID to the Garda. You don’t even have to tell them your name unless that have a reasonable suspicion you have or may be about to commit a crime. Happens on Derry – Dublin bus too. I just say no.
— Patricia MacBride (@IRLPatricia) September 14, 2019
Another advocated that the border should be got rid of altogether:
This is a frightening development, softening people up for full fledged controls. Bad times are coming. 30 years after we all celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall, the UK is building new walls. TEAR THEM DOWN. #StopTheCoup #StopBrexit
— Julian R#FBPE (@julian_rowden) September 15, 2019
Preparing for a hard border
These are not new developments. In May 2019, the Belfast Telegraph ran a story about a Derry man, Tristan Drysden, who was travelling from Belfast to Dublin and told that he should always carry a passport.
Drysden told the newspaper:
I explained to the Guard that I didn’t have my passport or any form of photographic ID and he said, ‘Why not, you are crossing a border?’ which stunned me because I assumed people were free to move from one part of Ireland to the other.
The Guard didn’t say why he wanted to see my passport so I assumed it was something to do with Brexit and maybe they were preparing for a hard border.
Although these violations are not widespread – yet – they may be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
According to Citizens Information, the CTA basically means that:
Irish and UK citizens have the right to live, travel, work and study within the Common Travel Area.
Irish and UK citizens can live in either country and enjoy associated rights and privileges
It also means that there’s no requirement to carry a passport, although that is “advisable” if travelling by sea or air.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood told the Telegraph that:
We fought long and hard for an invisible, seamless border on this island. People should be free to travel north and south without the imposition of border controls. The creeping border control apparatus is a sign of the kind of Brexit the DUP and ERG would love to see. We need to fight it. We need to find our pro-Europe voice.
But it is the people of Ireland, north and south, who perhaps hold the key to how the border can be truly open, without such checks, if Brexit goes ahead.
It’s about civil disobedience – on a massive scale – and a refusal to carry any ID when travelling north to south, or vice versa. The authorities would not be able to cope. Indeed, it would be the equivalent of pulling down the Berlin Wall, as alluded to by Julian’s tweet (above). For such action would inevitably bring all parts of Ireland that much closer together.
As it should be.
Featured image via henrikjon/Flickr
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?