Central to the Brexit debate has always been the 310 mile-long stretch of land between Northern Ireland and the Republic — the only land border the UK shares with the EU. For years after the 2016 vote to leave (a move the majority of Northern Ireland voted against), Brexit critics and supporters alike wondered how the UK and EU would avoid a hard border, while satisfying those who wanted distance from Europe.
Many were worried messing with the status quo would complicate a system that had been working fine for the last 20 years. Or worse, some foresaw a transition reigniting the sectarian conflict of the Troubles. As violence has escalated at recent protests — likely a combination of political unrest and frustration from COVID-19 lockdowns — it seems Northern Ireland is poised for dissent.
From migration to trade to remnants of past violence, the Irish border represents a symbol of the Northern Ireland’s past and present realities. Students Aidan Morton, Asa Metcalfe and Addie Slanger traced each of these topics with their geographic connection to the border. Their map takes a look at the border’s lasting impact on its communities, and how Brexit has complicated everyday life at the region’s edge.