Last night I attended a pleasant event in the beautiful new Garage Theatre in Monaghan town celebrating the awarding of an EU citizens award to a group that I am pleased to be involved with –Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB). The group were recommended for the award by Six Irish MEPs(four from Sinn Fein and two Independents.) They recognised the important work this group has done since last October in highlighting the dangers of Brexit for the Irish economy as well as for the peace process. During the last year members of this group have worked tirelessly to highlight the harmful effects of Brexit for this country and they have lobbied MPs, TDs and MEPs to oppose any return of the border in Ireland. Members of the group have staged imaginative protest marches along the border and up to Stormont. Members have taken part in many interviews with newspapers and Radio and TV from all over the world. They have given up much of their time talking to the media and showing them around the border areas and meeting people who live there and getting their responses.
When Brexit comes into effect in 2019, it is feared that given recent remarks of Mr Barnier and others on the EU side involved in negotiating British withdrawal that there will be a hard economic border on this small island –to mark the frontier between the EU and the UK. Such a border will require some kind of customs clearance posts checking on the movement of goods and people. That is a requirement of the EU to protect its constitution and integrity as a free Trade/free Travel area of member states. There are two other possibilities. One, the north will be given special status within the EU or two, a reunified Ireland will come about as a result of a border poll and Westminster being forced to cede sovereignty to the Dublin parliament. The latter is unlikely to happen in such a short time so it is back to the special status designation for the six counties. This would be an interim solution. This is something that Dublin ought to be campaigning for within the EU as the only way of maintaining the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement which allows citizens to be both Irish and European and protects the rights of Irish citizens living in the north. I am sure they would receive a good deal of support for such a demand since the EU has already invested a lot in the peace process in Ireland. There is a lot at stake, I am sure the EU would not wanted to see all the good work here in building peace thrown away. I am sure that the EU would respect the democratic wishes of the majority living in the north –even if the British government does not.