Giving a voice to local communities on the impact of Brexit.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU on 31st October 2019, the full impact of Brexit on the Irish border area remains undefined, with answers to many questions remaining outstanding. ICBAN developed a Policy Paper on Brexit in March 2017, noting and respecting the differing political positions of our Management Board. It was agreed that the organisation would work towards highlighting any opportunities or concerns and to withstand any negative consequences arising from the Brexit process.

Having identified an absence of community consultation on both sides of the border, ICBAN together with Queen’s University Belfast have published two survey initiatives and are now undertaking a third online survey and research report, commencing August 2019.

The first of these, the ‘Bordering on Brexit: The views of local communities in the Central Border Region of Ireland/Northern Ireland’ report was released in November 2017. The report presented eight core findings that are highly relevant to the Brexit negotiations, gained significant coverage in local, national and international media, and was widely referenced across the UK, Ireland and Europe, as well as in Egypt and India.

The second study, ‘Brexit at the Border’ was published in June 2018. This study also gave voice to border citizens and undertook to record those voices – through both an online survey and a series of focus groups. The resultant report highlighted the hopes and fears of border citizens in a post-Brexit world and the overriding need to protect a hard-won and valued peace. The study was referenced in over 120 media publications worldwide and a research video was also produced.

Over 1,000 people have inputted to these research exercises. ICBAN has ensured those voices were heard by disseminating the reports to those involved in high-level negotiations, including the EU’s negotiating team and the UK and Irish Governments.

A new study entitled ‘The Border into Brexit’ will be completed in autumn 2019. This will focus on recent developments and discussions on the issue of the Irish border, including the potential of a ‘No Deal’ scenario. An online survey  for residents of the Central Border Region is open until 23rd September 2019 and a series of focus groups and stakeholder interviews will also be delivered. ICBAN and QUB will complete an Interim Report ahead of the next European Council meeting on 17th -18th October 2019 and this will also be presented along with a final report to both the UK and Irish Governments, as well as other EU structures involved in the Brexit process.