Border checks likely to return - Irish government

Muff village County Donegal
Muff village County Donegal

The Irish Government has said it is difficult to see how custom checks at the border can be avoided following the UK decision to exit the European Union, as the magnitude of the implications begin to sink in locally.

In answer to questions on the impact Brexit will have on the border, a spokesperson for the Irish Government said there will be “no immediate” customs posts, but added: “It is difficult to imagine a situation where there will be no controls or checks on the movement of goods when the UK leaves the EU. There might conceivably be British as well as EU measures.

“It should be noted that the customs regime between the EU and some other countries does not, however, involve fixed border posts but a less disruptive mixture of electronic filing and random physical checks.”

As Sterling slumped in value to 1.20 euro and Sinn Fein and the SDLP took opposing views on holding a border poll in the current climate, people across Londonderry and Donegal were yesterday assessing the potential impact Brexit will have on their everyday lives.

A spokesperson for Post Office Limited confirmed there has been an “unusually high number” of people seeking Irish passport applications locally, while business owners and those involved in numerous projects across Londonderry and the border region expressed deep concerns for the future.

Colm McKenna, who is among a group of local businessmen who are developing plans for a cross-border Institute of Engineering Excellence at the border at Skeoge, with key involvement from the EU and whose portfolio also includes businesses on the border, speaking on the impact of Brexit on traders, students, research projects and wider society, said: “We are screwed economically, politically and socially. The Budget that George Osborne had outlined was probably mild as it was based on a much more rosy scenario than what has happened with stocks and shares over the past few days.”

Chief Executive of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce Sinead McLaughlin said that most local businesses were exporting and selling on a cross-border basis, and that quitting the EU was tantamount to “economic ignorance”.

Facing questions in Stormont from local MLAs yesterday, Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said that despite the changed economic outlook with regards EU funding, he remained committed to developing a railway transport hub for the North West, adding that he did not envision the A5 Londonderry to Dublin and A6 Londonderry to Belfast dualling projects being impacted severely as they were not so heavily reliant on EU funding.

The Irish Government said that they too remained “fully committed” to developing “key infrastructure projects such as the A5”.

A spokesperson for City of Derry Airport confirmed that discussions “are currently ongoing” with Citywing regarding its new cross-border Londonderry to Dublin service “with details and flight times expected to be announced in the coming weeks”.

“The Airport is confident that the new route will be a welcome and popular addition,” she said, adding that CoDA was working “with a number of airport and aviation industry groups, including the Aerodrome Operators’ Association, to articulate the impact that Brexit will have on the aviation industry”.