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Irish Agreement and Brexit: Key Issues and Controversies

The Irish Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, was signed in 1998 to help end decades of conflict in Northern Ireland between mainly Protestant unionists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom and mainly Catholic nationalists who want to join a united Ireland. The agreement established a power-sharing government, a north-south ministerial council, and a British-Irish council, among other institutions, and recognized the principle of consent, which means that any change in the status of Northern Ireland can only occur with the majority support of its people. The agreement was endorsed by referendums in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and has been credited with reducing violence and promoting stability in the region.

Brexit, the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, has raised serious challenges for the Irish Agreement, as it has created a new border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member state. This border, which stretches for about 500 km and has more than 200 crossing points, has been largely invisible since the signing of the agreement, as both the UK and Ireland were part of the EU`s single market and customs union, and goods and people could move freely between them. However, once the UK leaves the EU, this border will become an external frontier of the EU, with potential implications for trade, security, and identity.

The Irish Agreement and Brexit have therefore become intertwined, as any solution to the border issue must respect the principles and provisions of the agreement, and avoid any harm to the fragile peace process in Northern Ireland. The UK and the EU have been negotiating a withdrawal agreement, which includes a protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, also known as the backstop. This protocol aims to prevent a hard border by keeping Northern Ireland aligned with some EU rules and regulations, such as food safety and product standards, while allowing the rest of the UK to diverge from them. This would effectively create a regulatory border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which has raised concerns among unionists and some politicians in the UK about the integrity of the UK`s internal market.

The Irish Agreement and Brexit have also highlighted the constitutional and political challenges for Ireland, as it has become more influential and exposed in the EU`s negotiations with the UK. Ireland has emphasized the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, and has sought to maintain a united front with the other 26 EU member states on the issue. However, some critics have accused Ireland of using the border issue to secure its own interests, and of being too inflexible in the negotiations.

The Irish Agreement and Brexit have generated various controversies and debates, both in the UK and Ireland, and in the EU and the wider international community. Some of the key issues and questions include:

– What is the legal status and scope of the Irish Agreement in relation to Brexit?

– How can the UK and the EU reconcile their different goals and interests on the Irish border?

– How can the UK and Ireland avoid a reemergence of violence or tension in Northern Ireland?

– How can the Irish Agreement be safeguarded and strengthened in the context of Brexit?

– How can the Irish Agreement and Brexit impact the future of the UK and Ireland, and the relations between them and the EU?

– How can the Irish Agreement and Brexit inform and inspire other peace processes and conflict resolutions in the world?

As a professional, it is important to consider these issues and questions when writing about the Irish Agreement and Brexit, and to use relevant and accurate keywords and phrases that can attract and inform readers who are interested in this topic, such as “Brexit backstop”, “Northern Ireland trade”, “Good Friday Agreement review”, “customs union options”, “Ireland-EU solidarity”, etc. It is also important to use reliable and diverse sources, and to avoid any bias or misinformation that could distort or confuse the facts and opinions. By doing so, we can contribute to a better understanding and discussion of this complex and evolving issue that affects millions of people and nations.