Cork Airport is to be thanked for the reassuring news it has for people who feared that an impenetrable iron curtain would rise up in the middle of the Irish Sea if our nearest neighbour leaves the EU on October 31 without an agreed withdrawal treaty; and with it comes a timely reminder of the extent Common Travel Area agreement (CTA) that was sealed many decades before Ireland and Britain joined the then European Economic Community.
While the media focus has rightly been on the north-south backstop impasse, the Irish and British governments have agreed that the CTA protocols on November 1 will be almost exactly as they were on October 31, even in the event of ano-deal Brexit.
Ireland-Britain flights will continue as normal, and Irish and British citizens will be able to carry on moving freely between the two countries and live in either jurisdiction with the associated rights and entitlements.
And that “almost exactly”? The EU channel at Cork Airport would simply become the EU/UK line and, a plus for some travellers, the duty-free sale of alcohol and tobacco products — abolished in 1999 in accordance with the requirement of the single market — would be restored.
Let’s look, for a change, on at least one bright side in this dire Brexit mess. It’s a crumb of comfort in the free movement of people department. If only the free movement ofproduce were as simple to resolve.