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

As the UK prepares to leave the EU on 29th March 2019, the full impact of Brexit on the Irish border area remains undefined and getting answers to the questions posed may still take some time. 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 a number of survey initiatives.  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 presents eight core findings that are highly relevant to Brexit negotiations and has gained significant coverage in local, national and international media, and been 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 which received almost 600 responses and a series of focus groups with 49 participants from across the Central Border Region. 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.

ICBAN 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. The latest study has been referenced in over 120 media publications worldwide and a research video was also produced.

With Brexit pending, there will be challenges for the border region to overcome. ICBAN will review and make decisions accordingly and play its part to help ensure that the interests of this Region are considered as a priority by key stakeholders and decision-makers. Key to the organisation’s ongoing efforts has been to present evidence to UK and Irish parliamentary consultations as well as to EU structures involved in the Brexit process.