Anti-Brexit lobbyists take campaign to heart of EU

March 13, 2017

Campaigners against the introduction of a ‘hard border’ following Britain’s exit from the EU, travelled to Brussels recently to bring their case to the attention of the European Parliament.

Declan Fearon from Border Communities Against Brexit was among a delegation of nine who took part in a series of meetings organised by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson.

Mr Fearon said he is determined to inform the decision makers in Europe that a hard border “will not be tolerated” on the island of Ireland.

“The prospect of a new EU frontier, stretching from Dundalk to Derry some 300 miles, is not acceptable to those of us living and working in border areas, north or south,” he said.

“We are being taken out of the European Union against our will, 56 per cent of the North’s population voted to remain.

“Europe has had a tremendous positive impact on the North’s economy and social cohesion for decades, 60 per cent of our exports are sent to Europe (two thirds of this to the South), while 72 per cent of our imports come from Europe.  North-South trade amounted to more than €6 billion in 2014 and 1.85m cars; 177,000 lorries and 208,000 light vans cross the border each month,” Mr Fearon revealed.

The “massive loss” of European farm supports – worth an estimated €3.2 billion to farmers and rural communities in the North from 2014 to 2020, is another huge problem, he claimed.

“A hard border will divide farms, parishes, villages and neighbours with strong family ties on either side of the border; it will disrupt every day life whether to go to work or to shop or to engage in sporting fixtures; it will seriously disrupt business, create an economic shock for Ireland and especially the border corridor.”

Mr Fearon says the objective of the trip is to impress on European decision makers “that Ireland cannot be separated by two trading regimes, the imposition of customs checks, immigration control on county boundaries; all of which will lead to economic devastation resulting in many job losses.  The north of Ireland must be allowed to remain [within the EU], to trade freely, to move our goods and services and our people across the island of Ireland,” Mr Fearon added.