Thursday 22 June 2017

Brexit 'stress' for those who have to cross the Border

John Boyle, the incoming president of the INTO Picture: Moya Nolan
John Boyle, the incoming president of the INTO Picture: Moya Nolan
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Teachers with jobs on one side of the Border and homes on the other are fearful of the upheavals Brexit may bring.

Fears that hard-won employment rights might come apart, leading to an 'unequal island', were also expressed at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) Congress in Belfast.

The INTO called on the Irish and UK governments to support the continued free movement of people on the island and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

It warned that while, at present, teachers trained in the North may work in the south and vice versa, this flexibility could disappear after Brexit.

Incoming president of the INTO John Boyle told the congress there were 58 Border crossing points in Co Donegal alone, with 320,000 vehicular crossings a week - among them many teachers travelling to work.

He also expressed concern for children visiting the Gaeltacht areas from the North, questioning if they would still continue to come in the event of a hard Border going up.

Principal Catherine Flanagan, from Scoil Éanna in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, revealed two of the teachers in her school were commuting from the North, where they had homes and families, saying: "Their lives are there."

The lives of these women would be greatly impacted if they have to cross through customs every day, she said, adding they are "very stressed" by the uncertainties of what now lies ahead. One teacher has three children and is always anxious to get home because of her childcare situation.

She recalled the old days of the hard Border when random checks saw customs officers "take the car apart" at Aughnacloy. Sometimes they would have to wait hours at a customs point, she said.

"The fear is that things will go back to what we experienced in the past," she said.

Meanwhile, Gerry Murphy, INTO Northern secretary, told the congress school funding in Northern Ireland will continue to drop with the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Irish Independent

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