Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

BCAB launches new poster campaign

The local branch of Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) unveiled its new anti-Brexit poster at Killean Bridge, near Newry on Monday last, marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The event was organized to highlight concerns of how border communities will be affected post-Brexit and voice the determination of protestors against a return to ‘the borders of the past’.

Speaking to the sizeable attendance, Chairman of BCAB, Declan Fearon, claimed Brexit is “an attack on every aspect of the GFA”, and on the ability of people to work and travel freely across the island of Ireland.

“The ceasefire, the Peace Talks, which culminated in the Good Friday Agreement brought about enormous transformational change in the border communities of Ireland.

One of the major economic benefits was the billions of euro in financial aid that the North and Southern border counties received from the European Union.  This economic prosperity cemented the peace by creating badly needed jobs and putting programmes in place to allow communities to reach across the religious divide,” Mr Fearon said.

“However one of the most significant aspects of the GFA was allowing citizens to be Irish, British or both. It removed the thorny issue of Identity. Those who wished to be British could do so, while those who wished to be Irish could be as well.

Brexit and the Brexiteers have brought about the ugly issue of identity politics again.

“The island, due to both jurisdictions belonging to the Customs Union and Single Market, meant that the border in Ireland became a line on a map, people could travel, trade, work and socialise where ever they want.  Brexit is an attack on every aspect of the GFA.  But starkly it’s an attack on the freedom of people to travel, trade, work and socialise across this border.”

Mr Fearon says there is “no such thing as a soft border” and current talks aimed at achieving a solution to a frictionless border will not work.

“Trusted trader is for the big companies, the ones who can afford extra staff to process additional paper work, the small companies and sole traders will spend 4-5 hours in customs clearance queues, [as] pre-registration of vehicles cannot examine the contents of that vehicle.  A soft border is a hard border by stealth,” he said.

“The EU will not accept infringements, they will not accept illegal products such an inferior food being brought into their Union across this border, and rightly so.  So weeks or months after a soft border is agreed, we will all wake up to a hard border, with similar infrastructure such as border roads closed and customs towers on our main roads.”

Mr Fearon criticized the Irish government for its “significant tactical mistake” at the recent EU Council meeting, allowing the British government move to trade talks without a firm deal on the Irish border.

“We call on all politicians to continue to lobby against Brexit, to insist that the North remain with the Single Market and Customs Union, and in particular the Irish Government must stand firm and be prepared to veto any deal which does not deliver this.  The back-stop agreed in December between Britain and the EU is the very least we will accept,” he added.