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Concern as EU Commission unable to say Irish border roads will remain free of customs posts after Brexit - Carthy

28 March, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the European Commission is not dealing adequately with the consequences for Ireland of Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

He said the Commission has been unable to provide any assurance that major roads crossing the Irish border will remain free of custom posts and border checks after Brexit.

Carthy, whose Midlands North West constituency covers the entire border area from Donegal to Louth, recently submitted a question asking the EU Commission to outline its proposals for ensuring the roads remain free from custom posts and border checks.

Matt Carthy said:

“On the island of Ireland there are at least 12 primary roads which cross the border from the South into the North. These include the N1/A1, N53/A37, N12/A3, N2/A5, N54/A3, N3/N509, N87/A32, N16/A4, N3/A46, N14 & N15/A38, N13/A2, and the R238/A2

“Given that the Irish Government will not be a negotiating partner in the Brexit negotiations, I asked the Commission to outline specifically what proposals it has to ensure that these roads remain free from custom posts and border checks after the UK leaves the European Union.

"The Commission has been unable to provide me with an answer.

“On the eve of the Article 50 notification by Britain, this is simply not good enough and will cause further deep unease in Ireland, particularly in border counties.

"It also raises major concerns regarding the assurances so far provided by the Irish and British Governments.

“As someone who lives in the border region, I know that it would be unworkable to have a new EU frontier dividing communities stretching from Dundalk to Derry.

“There is growing concern among businesses, workers, students and farmers in the border region at the prospect of customs tariffs and the restriction of the free movement of goods, services and people across the border.

“Ordinary families and communities will suffer the consequences of a hard border.

"I remember the battles many years ago to open border roads that many of us now use on a daily basis.

“It would be unthinkable to see these roads closed again and the reappearance of customs and checkpoints.

“Cross border trade in goods and services on the island of Ireland has grown exponentially over the past 20 years and now stands at £5 billion Sterling or €6bn Euros.

“There is £1.2 billion worth of trade carried out between the North and the South each week, and an estimated 200,000 jobs are dependent on this trade.

“The uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum result is already damaging trade and investment and causing currency fluctuations which are impacting on cross border business. These problems will be as nothing however with the return of customs, checkpoints and tariffs.

“Since Ireland has lost the authority to negotiate on our own behalf as a result of the Lisbon treaty, it is up to the EU Commission to outline its position in protecting the interests of Britain's closest neighbour and the Member State that will be disproportionately affected by Brexit, Ireland.

“It is incumbent on the EU Commission to state clearly their position on this matter and to do everything in its power to ensure the continued freedom of movement of people and goods within Ireland.

“I will be pressing the Commission further on these issues and arguing that, pending Irish reunification, the only way to ensure that the wishes of people in the North and the interests of the island of Ireland are protected in the time ahead, is to grant the North of Ireland designated special status within the European Union.”

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