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"simon carswell" Discussed on The New Yorker Radio Hour
"Yorker and WNYC studios welcome to the New Yorker Radio Hour. I'm David Ramnik 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 easy second you've probably heard the term Irish backstop that refers to the border between the Republic of Ireland and the South and Northern Ireland. That border barely three hundred miles. Long has become the third rail of the brexit process. Such as it is my colleague. Patrick Reddin kief thankfully as is 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 author of say nothing a brilliant book about the Irish troubles when we talk about Ireland the country of Ireland today. We don't actually mean the whole island of of Ireland. What that refers to his 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 border and that border has a long and tense and tragic? Nick History Stir. Ben is a border town. The Irish Republic is five hundred yards away across the river. This is where the provisional visual. IRA have their base and this is where they retreat to across the border that is notoriously difficult to patrol during 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? Shen fighting to erase the border to kick the British out of Ireland once and for all and actually reunify 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 UK the British Army Eh. 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 one thousand nine hundred eighty eight with the Good Friday Agreement Agreement. The two prime ministers emerged just before six this evening to inaugurate the historic agreement. They hope will usher in a new era for the island and what happened. was that reporter source of tension this place where there were gun turrets and guys with guns who would check your vehicle as you were passing through through and check your papers. It seemed to just melt away. An agreement that Unites Loyalist and Republican Unionist and nationalist leaders in a wide ranging historical record until two thousand sixteen. The British people have voted to leave the European Union. And the will. When's voters in? The United Kingdom voted for Brexit. The question of the border suddenly became very fraud because when the U. K. lease the EU in Ireland stays in the EU than that soft border between in Ireland and Northern Ireland could 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. It is Three hundred miles long the border weaves in and out of villages around villages in and out of farmland and an an in and out through locks to lakes two rivers and and it divides communities as well. Simon Carswell is public affairs editor at the Irish Times 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 in an Ireland but doing so from interesting vantage point that my plan for reporting around Brexit was always going to be around the people it was all about. Who are the people affected exit by breakfast? And what's GONNA 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 the regular people and trying to find out how the changes that may come with? Brexit will affect their lives when it comes to Brexit brexit. All about change Enj and the place that 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 your childhood. Where did you grow up? I grew up in a groping a number different places. We moved around quite a bit. I grew up Actually spent a first two years of my life in Dublin and before we moved to Virginia in County Cavan not far from the border If there till I was seven always in the Republic always in the republic but my parents were from from Belfast so we would have experienced of crossing the border several times a year to go see my grandmother in Northern Ireland and see my relatives and tell me about that. What was the border like back? Then and during the troubles Mirela memories of the border was we across at the main road From Dublin to Belfast. Near newry for a long period of time time was a customs border. Where your car might be stopped so my memory of crossing was late at night? Often we cross going up there for a long weekend and and It was dark really kind of quite eerie. When you would when you across the border and you'd see in the shadows at the edge of the road you'd see soldier? British army soldiers crouch down holding guns and making sure Dash all of the traffic coming through. There's no threat there. I'm really just Prime fraction reading in case. Something in happened so then nine hundred ninety eight you get the Good Friday Agreement. which is this landmark peace deal which ends this grinding three-decade the 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 no you've crossed the border with very clear when you go and visit these communities. They don't actually 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 this border over and over and back again over the course of the day many occasions when you talk to people. They don't know how many times they crossed the border in a day and they may not even thinking about it. No they're not even thinking about it. There are no signs. There's nobody stopping so really. It makes no difference at all because there is to all intents purposes this invisible border. Ah I WANNA play a clip. Actually some school kids that you visited with in a town called Crossmaglen is just off the border in Northern Ireland and had been a real flashpoint during the troubles so one half of my house is on the Republicans and the other side of my house zone Northern Ireland part of the island. He sleep on. I live in isolation in Northern Ireland but my lack Levin run would be in Republika. There can you just tell me a bit about the school 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 Primary School Elementary School in Crossmaglen line which is about three kilometers across the border in South Armagh Northern Ireland. This was a school that was frequently in caught in the crossfire. Literally caught in the crossfire. Where in the IRA attack on the very famous British army barracks in Crossmaglen right in the town so the IRA an IRA unit would open fire on the barracks soldiers? British soldiers would fire back in the school. School was caught in the crossfire. The principal the school pointed out various bricks in the wall of the school. That face the barracks and he pointed out those the bricks that needed to be replaced as a result. A bullet strike striking the awards gunfights. So the kids all had these stories where they had answer ankles or their parents at that. They had crouched under tables when bullets blitzer coming across and hitting the school and they were very fearful that this is brexit might lead to like earth when she was younger she. He told me that when she was there she has begun to table. She saw Fly Across these are children who've grown up after the Good Friday 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 me aware of us. they're aware while they didn't live through us through the stories of their that their families have told the this was a bad time And that they don't I want to return.