Nobody wants to see the Customs checks return

Economy

Gene Yore

Reporter:

Gene Yore

Email:

gene.yore@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Nobody wants to see the Customs checks return

Over a thousand people from both sides of the border assembled at a mock customs post last Saturday for a rally organised by Border Communities Against Brexit.

They came to voice their opposition to Brexit and a hard border and demand that the 56 per cent remain vote in the North be respected.

Political representatives from political parties including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the SDLP attended.

The speakers included Paddy Malone, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, Matthew McGrehan, representing farmers, economist and Newry Chamber spokesperson Conor Patterson, Rosemary McDonnell who spoke on behalf of the voluntary sector.

A hard border between North and South when the UK leaves the EU is now a real worry for people in this area.

There are concerns that Dundalk could become the ‘new Calais’ if people traffickers use this country as a jump-off point to get migrants into the UK.

The government here is already talking to the British government about how it can share intelligence to curb illegal immigration across the border.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, James Brokenshire, said he did not want to see Customs checks on the border when the UK leaves the EU.

So, according to The Guardian newspaper, the British government want to avoid a return to a hard border by working with the government here to have stronger immigration controls at our ports and airports.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has welcomed this commitment to a continuation of an invisible north-south border.

But that did not stop Saturday’s alley. The concerns are still there.

So are there any positive sides to Brexit if the invisible border remains?

Paddy Malone, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, has been nominated for the Taoiseach’s All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit and how it will impact on this country. He believes there are some positive signs to look at.

“If British universities drop out of Horizon 20/20 (the EU research programme) and if an English speaking alternative is needed, then we here in Dundalk and county Louth are well placed,” said Paddy.

“Financial companies looking for an EU passport may move out of London.

In that case, Dundalk’s location could prove attractive.

“We are 40 minutes from Dublin and Belfast airports and when SIRO is fully delivered it will give Dundalk broadband speeds four times faster than what is available in the IFSC.

“Property, both residential and commercial, is more expensive in Dublin.

“So all of this would make Dundalk an attractive location for relocation.”

But he also pointed out the downside of a Brexit move.

Dundalk Institute of Technology has close links with Queen's University and other institutions, so how will Brexit impact on that.

Theresa May was accused of stoking anti-immigrant feeling at her party conference by playing fears and concerns about immigrants taking British jobs.

So if there is going to be a hard border here how will it impact on people in this area -many of whom have to cross the border to go to work - and on business in the region?

Louth County Council, Newry and Mourne District Council, and Down District Council, have already signed up to a memorandum of understanding, a cultural and economic alliance for the region.

Sinn Fein Cllr Edel Corrigan, is the joint chair of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Committee and she has expressed her concerns about the possible impact on the local economies of Brexit.

"Cross border trade is integral to any business that is based in the region, or anywhere along the border,” Cllr Corrigan said.

“We would fear that businesses, particularly in Dundalk and the wider area, would be directly impacted due to an introduction of tariffs or restrictions on movement by products or even by people."

"We already know that there will be some impact as a result, but that remains an unknown at the minute.”