Irish Examiner View: Around the world we are still building walls

Big borders are back
Irish Examiner View: Around the world we are still building walls
Construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961

On this day in 1961 workers used barbed wire and cinder blocks to start building a wall that would become the symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall divided Germany physically and ideologically and, in the 28 years that followed, it became a physical manifestation of the ‘iron curtain’.

Its fall in 1989, celebrated with much euphoria, reunited Germany and acted as trigger for the collapse of many Eastern European regimes, which fell domino-like over the next decade.

It's interesting to look back now and note that there were just 15 border walls around the globe at the time. Now, there are over 70. The big border wall is back.

While US president Donald Trump has gained notoriety as one of the world’s most enthusiastic wall-builders, thanks to his promise to build a “beautiful wall” on the unfenced sections of the US-Mexican border, he is far from being the only one. 

Several European countries — Hungary, Bulgaria and Austria among them  — responded to the migrant crisis of 2015/16 by building walls, while the UK financed a wall in France to stop migrants making the journey from Calais to England. 

Border walls and fences across 10 European countries are now six times longer than the Berlin Wall, according to international research body, the Transnational Institute.

On this island nation, we’ve haven’t built a wall to keep migrants out. By putting them in direct provision centres, we have instead built walls to fence them in.

Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision Centre, Dublin.  Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Clondalkin Towers Direct Provision Centre, Dublin.  Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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