Brexit: a cry from the Irish border
‘Jacob Rees-Mogg you're right. You don't need to visit the border... you need to have lived here.’ Belfast-born actor Stephen Rea explores the real impact of Brexit and the uncertainty of the future of the Irish border in a short film written by Clare Dwyer Hogg.
Produced and directed by Juliet Riddell; edited by Tom Hannen; written by Clare Dwyer Hogg and performed by Stephen Rea
Jacob Rees-Mogg, you're right. You don't need to visit the north of Ireland to understand the border. You need to have lived here. When the border was no man's land, neither your land or my land, a ragged stretch of spike.
And because you do not like to think it's a problem does not mean it vanishes. A trick of the eye, a trompe-l'oeil. Just because you have said the problem is imaginary does not disappear the thread of reality. I used to assume that magical thinking meant wide eyes, a vision that doesn't stop at the sky. Creative view on old to make it new.
But now, Sure, someone from the EU accused Westminster of magical thinking. No assumptions anymore about what magic is. There's a lot of chat about imagination when people talk of the border- The Irish one, you know: Between the northern part And the southern part, And what keeps them apart,
Stone or moss, Hard or soft. You hear these things through airwaves And screen And wonder what they mean. Boris Johnson took a notion that our border was just like his. Donegal, Derry, Camden, and Islington. What's the difference?
I won't break down the distance There Between reality And creativity. 'Magical thinking'. 'An imaginary problem'. 'A pragmatic extension Of a reality That already exists'. 'The magic formula of words Has yet to materialise'. Now there's a collection of words Fished from a misty view Of what connects me and you.
They're not pagan hopes. Just quotes. Politicians Struggling to grasp The ungrabbable. We're knee deep in Philosophy here, Trapped in other people's boundaries. Yet to me it feels quite real: Roads that start here And end there, somehow allowing a wound to heal.
It's counterintuitive That nothing to see Now Is more real Than what there was Then. Nothing to see Means reality. It sounds magical, doesn't it? This is what magic in the day to day looks like: The spirit of peace in the normality. Nothing outward as such, no extra levity. Just- a gentleness in the mundanity.
Daily travel. Across political lines. Work, school, grocery shops. Back again. Magic is the absence, Sometimes. There was magic, too, in 1998. A very good Friday. And all the years in between To make the border disappear: There but not there, A line of imagination that needed Imagination to make it Exist while unseen.
And war, That vulture Who makes human lives carrion, Tears the beauty Of identity To pieces, Feasts on death, Cares not about any cause- It shrieked and screamed As it's roosting places Were turned into wider spaces. Nobody ever thought that dismantling the barricades Like a jigsaw bit by bit Was a temporary measure.
We thought the concrete was broken down, Old wood burnt, Weapons beat into ploughs. We hoped, by digging out old roots, the grass would grow Over lines drawn in war rooms. And even though we would all know When we drove from one political sphere to the next, We would know but The earth would not.
And so Maybe The stale, tight air around the site Of fear and death and human plight Would burst, Instead allowing a flowing, a growing with time. None of us expected this would be swift, that overnight tensions would lift. No, we're not the types to put faith in magicians.
But we want to believe in magic. And this was a start, beginning something, a road with no blocks, clear paths. We didn't think it was illusion. The pieces of the jigsaw falling away before our eyes didn't stop existing, after all. Instead packed away in boxes labelled and ordered for use at a future time, ready for reconstruction down the line.
Were the decisions on that day sacred for both sides of the divide? Just things that made the process move ahead- for then? Apparently, there hasn't been a hard border here since 1923. You'd have known that wasn't true, Toby Young, if you'd been here to see.
And no, I wasn't alive either when Lloyd George called Ireland 'The Irish Question'. That was 1916. It's strange that now it seems the people in power and the people who write about us are calling it that again. We've got questions, but now we're the Irish Question.
Isn't identity something to do with magic, The mystery of birth and What we cleave to in life. Another imagination, Given credence by ritual, Grows from the soil, Planted in the earth, Rooted in how we see. Where are the stereotypes Here when some of us have Irish passports, Some British, Some have both - ?
'Overreaching' Arlene Foster said, About the words in documents that will Determine what and when- but Does anything happen then unless you reach Beyond? Two kingdoms bound by imaginations: That's why the language woven through negotiations has a mystical thread Those at the head Cannot help themselves but use.
The power of identity Infusing and confusing practicality. We live here. And we're holding our breath Again Because we know That chance and hope Come in forms like steam and smoke.