I’m Katy Hayward, Senior Research Fellow at the think tank UK in a Changing Europe. My research centres upon the post-Brexit status and future of Northern Ireland. Ask me anything about Northern Irish politics, the Protocol, polling, Irish borders...
Hi, I’m Katy Hayward, Senior Research Fellow at the think tank ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ and Professor of Political Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast.
My research for UK in a Changing Europe centres upon the post-Brexit status and future of Northern Ireland, with a particular focus on the Irish land and sea borders. As an organisation we aim to make big and complex issues like these understandable and accessible to as large an audience as possible.
Northern Ireland and the Irish border have been the cause of a lot of discussion and debate in the Brexit process – and this year has not been a quiet one! It started with the roll-out of the Protocol, and, with it, new checks and controls on goods entering NI from Britain. Early on, some were calling for safeguard measures to be triggered in the form of Article 16 – and these calls have grown over time. Now, in a sign of continued UK-EU tensions over Northern Ireland, Lord Frost himself is holding his finger over this particular red button.
And there have been tensions of all sorts in Northern Ireland politics too. We could have expected these, it being the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland and the partition of the island of Ireland. However, the divisions are not just green and orange, but also within unionism itself. Arlene Foster was given little choice by her own party but to resign as First Minister. And the flux and tensions in the leadership of unionism were seen in different form on the ground, including in the riots in some loyalist communities in the spring.
We in UK in a Changing Europe have explained these issues, the causes and even the options for managing them – through, for example, a number of articles, reports, the UK in a Changing Europe podcast and panel events on public opinion in NI, as well as regular commentary for UK media. We even have a new video explaining the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.
But, with so much going on, it can be difficult to keep on top of what’s happening in Northern Ireland. Especially given the technical nature of the Protocol and the often-intense political heat around the issues.
So we thought you might like the chance to #AskMeAnything on any of this – Northern Ireland, the Protocol, polling data, Irish land and sea borders, grace periods, consent votes, Article 16… I’ll do my best to answer.