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Into the Unknown: Implementing the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Colin MurrayORCiD, Clare Rice



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Centre for Cross Boarder Studies, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has shone a spotlight on Northern Ireland’s reliance upon a delicately interwoven balance of political, economic and social factors, which are often beyond its control. The Protocol’s complex trading terms require implementation before the 31 December 2020 to avoid damaging consequences for Northern Ireland’s economy. Efforts towards implementation are taking place alongside the UK Government’s negotiation of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and moves to prevent barriers to trade emerging between the UK’s constituent parts. The UK Government’s prioritisation of a “clean-break” Brexit for Great Britain has, however, exacerbated the vulnerability of Northern Ireland’s position amid these changes. This paper explores the workings of these dynamics, addressing how barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have previously existed without being perceived to be a threat to the Union. We examine how the politics of Brexit is impacting upon the Protocol’s implementation, and suggest that the UK Government is harnessing the potential for collateral damage being inflicted upon Northern Ireland’s economy to generate a narrative of threats to the Union as a means of bolstering its negotiating position.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murray C, Rice C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland

Year: 2020

Volume: 15

Pages: 17-32

Online publication date: 24/09/2020

Acceptance date: 21/07/2020

Date deposited: 21/07/2020

ISSN (print): 2054-572X

Publisher: Centre for Cross Boarder Studies




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