Our new research with UK citizens in Ireland

Did you know that the Republic of Ireland is home to the third largest British migrant population in the EU?

According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Agency, in 2016 UK citizens living in Ireland numbered 103,113; their numbers are only exceeded by the Polish population (122,515). As Professor Mary Gilmartin explained in Episode 21 of our podcast there is very limited knowledge and understanding of this population in academic or political discourse. While concerns over the future of the Ireland/Northern Ireland border has been one of the most contested and protracted issues of the Brexit negotiations considered in relation to the peace process, trade and economics, and Northern Ireland, the impact of changes to the border for UK citizens who have made their homes and lives in the Republic of Ireland has not been part of this discussion.

From the practice of everyday lives made possible by the ease of travel across border, to reinvigoration of inter-ethnic tensions and sectarian affiliations through, for example, the hardening of the border, what happens with the border might have a range of outcomes for resident Britons. The rights of UK citizens living in Ireland currently rest on the principles of the Common Travel Area—a bilateral agreement between the UK and Ireland—rather than EU Freedom of Movement Directives, and are thus not safeguarded by the Withdrawal Agreement. Brexit thus has the potential to shape the experience of Britons in Ireland in markedly different ways to that of their compatriots elsewhere in the EU.

We have recently been given the go ahead by our funders to extend our research into the consideration of what Brexit means for UK citizens living in the Republic of Ireland. This new work package will consider the following set of questions:

  1. What implications do the ways in which Brexit articulates with the British-Irish relations have for the terms on which UK citizens resident in Ireland live their lives?
  2. How UK citizens living close to the border manage and negotiate these changing conditions? In what ways do they re-evaluate their lives and citizenship, re-negotiate their identities, and position themselves in relation to shifting political realities in Ireland and Europe?
  3. To what extent do the implications of Brexit for UK citizens living in Ireland converge and diverge with its implications for their compatriots in the EU-26?

Between October 2018 and February 2019, the project team are planning to conduct in-depth interviews people living in Dublin, Galway and Donegal. We are currently looking for UK citizens of all ages living in these areas to take part in the research, so whether you have strong feelings or not about Brexit and its impact on your life, please do get in touch using the contact form below.

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