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This is the New York radio hour I'm David Remnick the deadline for the UK to leave the European Union has once again been pushed prime minister Boris Johnson failed to meet his October thirty first deadline now if you've been following brexit closely at all first of all give yourself a Pat on the back because that's not easy second you've probably heard the term Irish backstop that refers to the border between the Republic of Ireland in the south and Northern Ireland that border barely three hundred miles long to become the third rail of the brexit process such as it is my colleague Patrick reading Keefe thankfully has a much better grasp of the history here than I do and especially how the border has such profound implications for the future of the UK and Europe as well Patrick is the author of say nothing a brilliant book about the Irish troubles when we talk about Ireland to the country of Ireland today we don't actually mean the whole island of Ireland with that refers to is twenty six counties which is most of the island but not the six counties of Northern Ireland which actually are part of the United Kingdom and so these are two different countries divided by a border and that border has a long and tense and tragic history Japan is a border town the Irish Republic is five hundred yards away across the river this is where the provisional IRA have that base and this is where the retreat to across the border this is notoriously difficult to patrol I already said it was warning people to stay away from it during a three decade conflict known as the troubles there was basically a war fought over the border he 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 unified 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 emerged 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 order 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 not the way an agreement that unites loyalist and Republican unionist and nationalist leaders in a wide ranging historical record until twenty sixteen the British people have voted to leave the European Union and that will when voters in 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 could suddenly change dramatically it would have to have customs checkpoints immigration checkpoints it becomes a hard border basically patrolled by authorities on by sites 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 in and I was of farm land and and and and I wish to 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 and 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 my AD plan for importing around rex 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's all by 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 spend as first years my life in Dublin and before you moved to Virginia kind of cat and not far from the border and if there's Lois seven always in the Republic always in the Republic but my parents were from Belfast so we would have experience of crossing the border several times a year to go see my grandmother in Northern Ireland to see 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 at near Newry for a long period of time it was a customs border where you're I 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'd see soldiers British Army soldiers crouched 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 ends this grinding three decade war really you know for 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 is they don't actually S. 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 crossing the border overnight over back again over the course today and many occasions when you talk to people they don't know how many times they crossed 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 really makes no difference middle 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 cross my 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 isolate and 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 I went to Saint Patrick's Catholic prime Mister Adam and his crew in Crossmaglen which about three kilometers 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 an irate 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 strike strike in the war on fights so the kids all had these stories where they add ons room close or their parents at 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 my mom like she went after when she was younger and she told me that when she was there she had gone to table she saw a bot fly across on a one day Daily News 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 piece they're extremely aware of this they're aware of why they didn't live through is through the stories of their that their families have told the US this was a bad time and that they don't want to return to a 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 people going to and from work every day you know a across the border the hard border you know 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 on on teleconference and that's the scary thing of it all of that not even the people in charge of so I'd have to wait I took for example the busiest crossing over the border the dolls and doll house road the a one is the four lane highway that crosses the border on ice I just as an exercise I looked at the traffic over the course of one twenty four hour period and in that time if a twenty five thousand vehicles crossing over that day one eighteen thousand cars but crucially you had six thousand six hundred goods vehicles now if you put up any kind of check that's going to mean your goods are not going to get to at supermarkets as quickly as they showed that would result in issues around availability so you have certain products would have the same shelf life and so what that would mean is ultimately people are going to have to pay more for their food because of these additional costs I want to play another clip this is a woman named Mary Casey who you spoke with and her father was actually killed in a bombing of a customs point in nineteen seventy two he was there in the role not morning for somebody who's going to a wedding and he wanted to get this book stamped in the customs and the world the way I was from the mess the I. array of coming in with the bomb well I was looking in particular at the operation of customs posts along the border and I thought well what was the worst attack the deadliest attack on a northern Irish border customs posts during the troubles and there were quite a few I think there's about four hundred and eighty odd incidents over the thirty year period of the troubles and I found came across this extraordinary story of this bomb attack on the new request ins.

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