French farmers call for ‘hard’ border between Republic and Northern Ireland
The leader of a major French farmers union has called for a ‘hard’ border to be established between between Northern Ireland and the Republic, following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The comments were made by Christophe Hillairet, the leader of an influential regional French farmers association.
Hillairet said that he was afraid that the UK would sign agreements to import food from the Commonwealth and that he was particularly concerned by how these imports might find their way into the Republic and the wider EU.
Quoted in Agra Europe today, Monsieur Hillairet is said that “Ireland is a big problem but for the French farmer we will need to have a hard border between the north and the Republic as otherwise we will have a lot of products that will cross from north to south. That would be very dangerous for our producers.”
Here, the President of ICMSA John Comer said the comments were at best premature and could more frankly be described as self-centred.
He said that Monsieur Hillairet must be aware of the very recent history of suffering and conflict in precisely that border region whose avoidance would continue to take clear precedence over the anxieties of French farm groups as far as both Ireland and the United Kingdom were concerned.
These were farming and rural communities, Mr Comer explained, who owned lands and collected and processed milk in plants on both sides of the border.
He said that the farming communities concerned had every right to expect that the EU and the UK would continue – so far as was possible with goodwill and intelligence - to facilitate that absolutely natural process.