Today is the centenary of the political entity known as "Northern Ireland". Here is a new @commonslibrary briefing paper from me on the origins and development of the Northern Ireland border or “boundary”, which is also 100 years old:… THREAD 1/15
The idea of “partitioning” Ireland is generally attributed to Liberal MP Thomas Agar-Robartes, who proposed excluding four Ulster counties from the Third Home Rule Bill in June 1912. Although rejected at the time, by 1917 "partition" was the centrepiece of UK policy 2/15
The territorial extent of Northern Ireland was only settled just before the Government of Ireland Bill was considered by Parliament in early 1920. The UK Cabinet agreed to 6 Ulster counties rather than 9, as demanded by Ulster Unionists. This guaranteed a Protestant majority 3/15
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 received Royal Assent on 23 December 1920. This created devolved parliaments in "Northern Ireland" and “Southern Ireland”. An administrative boundary was to divide the two 4/15
The parliaments of Northern and Southern Ireland were enacted by Order in Council on 3 May 1921. Elections were called by the Lord Lieutenant on 4 May and held on 24 May (Empire Day). The "Northern Parliament" was opened by George V on 22 June:… 5/15
The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty allowed Northern Ireland to “opt out” of coming under the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State, which it did on 7 December 1922. This triggered a Boundary Commission, which was to revise the boundary between NI and the Free State 6/15
In the interim, a customs frontier was erected along the Northern Ireland/Free State border on 1 April 1923. This “hardened” the boundary for the first time. Cross-border roads were identified as “approved” or “unapproved”; duties were payable on many commercial goods 7/15
When the Boundary Commission's proposals are leaked to a newspaper in November 1925, the Free State & NI governments agreed to suppress it to avoid political controversy. The Tripartite Boundary Agreement of 3 December confirms the existing border:… 8/15
Ireland leaves the British Commonwealth on 18 April 1949, further strengthening the border as an international frontier. The Ireland Act 1949 subsequently confirms that the “consent” of the NI Parliament is required to end or alter partition 9/15
When the IRA launch “Operation Harvest” in 1956, the border is "securitised" for the first time, with "unapproved" routes cratered or spiked. This happens again in August 1970 as a response to “The Troubles”:… 10/15
Both Ireland and the UK accede to the then European Economic Community on 1 January 1973. As a result, the border between the two becomes softer, but customs checks remain in place, as does the Common Travel Area:… 11/15
In an attempt to "take the border out" of Northern Ireland politics, the UK Parliament legislates for a “border poll” on 8 March 1973. Although a majority vote for Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK, many Nationalists boycott the referendum:… 12/15
Following the Single European Act of 1986, customs checks cease at what HM Customs & Excise call the "Northern Ireland Land Boundary" at midnight on 31 December 1992. Only the border's security aspects remain:… 13/15
The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement was endorsed in a referendum on 22 May 1998. Although this did not explicitly rule out a "hard" border in Ireland, it did commit the UK Government to removing security installations:… 14/15
On 1 January 2021 the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect. This avoids "customs and regulatory checks or controls and related physical infrastructure at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland" by creating an "Irish Sea border":… 15/15 ENDS

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