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Ó Caoláin raises potential impact of Brexit on border residents and communities

22 September, 2016 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin raised the potential impact of Brexit on cross-border workers and on north-south infrastructural projects when he addressed the panel in session one of the Dáil organised symposium on European Union Affairs entitled ‘The Economic Implications of UK Withdrawal from the European Union’ in The Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin this morning.

The Cavan Monaghan Deputy stated that while the British Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett had echoed the oft-stated ‘assurance’ of British Ministers and politicians that there would be no return to the ‘hard border’ of the past, none of these spokespersons had spelt out what type of border they actually envisaged and how their views and goals on the free movement of people could be served by anything other than a ‘hard border’ return.

Ulster Canal

Deputy Ó Caoláin asked the panel to advise if they shared the concerns of many citizens, especially in the border counties, regarding the risks that Brexit could potentially present for critical cross-border infrastructural projects already planned but yet to commence in any real way, instancing the Ulster Canal restoration project and the construction of the new N2/A5 from Clontibret to Strabane and Lifford.

Responding, IDA Ireland’s Chief Executive Martin Shanahan expressed the view that as these projects were equally valued and of service to the northern state as to the Republic of Ireland that he did not anticipate any risk to their delivery.

Cross Frontier Medical Card

Deputy Ó Caoláin also spoke of the potential impact of Brexit on the economic condition of ordinary people as against the “high plateau” focus of much of that morning’s address of the subject of the symposium. He instanced the possible loss of their automatic entitlement to a Medical Card under EU regulations by cross-border or cross-frontier workers, many thousands of whom live in the border counties of Cavan and Monaghan, Louth, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal.

Deputy Ó Caoláin urged an examination of all the potential negative consequences of Brexit on Irish workers and families, many of these, he believed, not yet even realised.

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