A new story from The New Yorker Radio Hour

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Warning people to stay away from during a three decade conflict known as the troubles there was basically a war fought over that border you had the IRA the Irish Republican Army which is a paramilitary organization fighting to a race the border to kick the British out of Ireland once and for all and actually re unify as thirty two counties and then you had loyalist groups which are loyal to the British crown fighting to preserve the identity of Northern Ireland as part of the U. K. the British Army the police in Northern Ireland and it was a long and bloody conflict in which thirty six hundred people died but the conflict ended in nineteen ninety eight with the Good Friday agreement the two prime ministers emerge just before six this evening to inaugurate the historic agreements they hope will usher in a new era for the island and what happened was that that reporter that source of tension this place where there were gun turrets and guys with guns who would check your vehicle as you're passing through and check your papers it seemed to just melt away and agreements that unites loyalist and Republican unionist and nationalist leaders in a wide ranging historical until twenty sixteen the British people have voted to leave the European Union and then I will when voters in the United Kingdom voted for brexit the question of the border suddenly became very fraught because when the U. K. lease the E. U. and Ireland stays in the E. U. than not soft border between Ireland and Northern Ireland it suddenly changed dramatically it would have to have customs checkpoints immigration checkpoints it becomes a hard border basically patrolled by authorities on both sides and that would immediately threaten the peace that's mostly held on the island for twenty years now it's a very complex border eight is at three hundred miles long and the border weaves in and I wish of villages around villages and I was of farm land and an in and I was through locks to lakes rivers and and and it divides communities as well Simon cars well it is public affairs editor at The Irish Times and the former US correspondent for The Irish Times an old friend of mine he has been covering brexit like many journalists in England and Ireland but doing so from an interesting vantage point that might have planned for importing around brexit was always going to be around people it was all about her who are the people affected by bruxism and what's going to mean for them in their daily lives what Simon has been doing is traveling around the border in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and talking to regular people and trying to find out how the changes that may come with brexit will affect their lives when it comes to brexit rex is all about change and the place that it was going to be changed most is along the only land border with the United Kingdom and that's in Ireland let's go back to your childhood where did you grow up I grew up and I grew up in a number different places we moved around quite a bit I grew up and actually spent as first years my life in Dublin before you moved to Virginia and had a cat and not far from the border and if they're so that was seven always in the Republic always in the Republic but my parents were from the alpha so we would have experience of crossing the border several times a year to go see my grandmother in Northern Ireland is he my relatives and tell me about that what was the border like back then during the troubles my earliest memories of the border was we were cross at the main road and from Dublin to Belfast and your new worry for a long period of time it was a customs border where your car might be stopped so my memory of crossing was late at night often we will cross had going up there for a long weekend and it was dark and really kind of quite eerie when you and when you across the border and you'd see in the shadows at the edge of the road you see soldier British Army soldiers cracks down holding guns and making sure and dash all of the traffic coming through is a threat there and we just I'm fraction reading case something happened so then nineteen ninety eight you get the Good Friday agreement which is this landmark peace deal which ands this grinding three decade war really you know for it for the sake of contrast tell me about crossing the border today crossing the border today you wouldn't even know you've crossed the border it was very clear when you go and visit these communities as they don't actually as they don't think there's a border there at all because for the past twenty odd years it's been invisible so they go about their business in this border overnight over back again over the course of the day and many occasions when you talk to people they don't know how many times they cross the border in a day and they made these are not even thinking about it no they're not even thinking about it there are no signs that there's nobody stopping you so we it makes no difference at all because there is to all intents purposes this invisible border I'm gonna play a clip actually of some some school kids that you visited with in a town called Crossman gland which is just off the border in Northern Ireland and had been a real flash point during the troubles so one half of my has is on the Republic of Ireland on the other side of my house is on Northern Ireland which part of the island is the one I live in isolated in Northern Ireland but my like living room would be in the Republic of there can you just tell me a bit about the school and that that conversation how you came to meet those kids and how they're thinking about all this well I went to Saint Patrick's Catholic prime is there an entry screws in Crossmaglen which eventually comes across the border in south Armagh Northern Ireland this was a school that was frequently in it caught in the crossfire literally caught in the crossfire where in Iran talk on the very famous British Army barracks in Crossmaglen right the town so the irate and I are unit opened fire on the barracks soldiers British soldiers would fire back in the schools cost in the crossfire and the principal of the school pointed out very is bricks in the wall of the school that face the barracks he points at those the bricks and needed to be places around the bullet striking striking the one on your own fights so the kids all had these stories where they add ons room close or their parents and that they had crunched under tables when bullets are coming and across and hitting the school and they were very fearful that this is what brexit might lead to a life she wondered if the Rangers younger I'm she told me that when she was there she had begun to table she saw the ball fly across on a one day delay knows these are children who have grown up after the Good Friday agreement their whole lives have have happened during peacetime but there it sounds like they're very aware of the fragility of that he's there extremely aware of this they're aware of why they didn't live through as to the stories of their that their families have told the ash this was a bad time and that they don't want to return to us and you also went out and spoke with with truck drivers who who actually do criss cross the border every day bringing goods back and forth this ties is even going to and from work every day you know a across the border the hard border no it's just the just the just isn't going to work like you have the idea walk you know its it's one small country I don't even think the politicians know that much you know judging by what's been said what's been told nobody really knows what's going to happen on.

Coming up next