Monday 11 December 2017

'Even the softest border will have an impact on our town'

Dundalk cheesemonger Peter Thomas fears local producers will take a hit in the wake of Brexit
Dundalk cheesemonger Peter Thomas fears local producers will take a hit in the wake of Brexit

Martin Grant

Dundalk is feeling numbed and bruised by the Brexit result.

The border town remembers well the physical border with the North and nobody wants to return to those nightmare times.

Stylist Caroline McElroy wonders if she will now need a passport to visit her horse across the border
Stylist Caroline McElroy wonders if she will now need a passport to visit her horse across the border

In fact, no one will even discuss the possibility of Northern Ireland holding a 'Nexit' referendum, which would see the province leave the UK but remain in Europe, reflecting the raw tension regarding the issue.

The historic referendum has a deeply profound impact on the daily lives of the people living in the 'wee county', who can literally throw a stone from their backyard into Northern Ireland.

While the economy is one of a list of major concerns amongst those living in Dundalk, Carlingford and Omeath, the issue of a border dividing communities, businesses and families is the most worrying.

Dundalk stylist Caroline McElroy was wondering if she will now need a passport to visit her horse, which is stabled across the border.

"When I woke up, I was just shell-shocked, it was unexpected," said Caroline. "I feel there is a big question mark over everything, but I can't help but feel negative because it's all very uncertain.

"Being close to the border, we remember what it was like in times gone past and we don't want to revisit that, we don't want to see that again."

Caroline added that Dundalk has been battling for eight years to improve the economy and she worries about the uncertain times ahead.

Darren Guest, who recently opened menswear shop Pinstripe Punk, fears of border watchtowers being erected once again are a concern.

Darlene Quigley says 'brexit' decision is ‘deeply terrible’
Darlene Quigley says 'brexit' decision is ‘deeply terrible’

"We have Northern customers (and) we don't need any barricades or obstacles put in our way," Darren said.

"Having a physical border will be a huge negative. I fear there will be duty on goods and we are only ten minutes away from the North."

Local cheesemonger Peter Thomas fears small producers will take a hit.

"It's still sinking in. The hassle we are going to have trying to do trade with Northern Ireland after years of everything working...it is going to have a huge impact," he said. "We have a lot of customers who come across the border who might not travel.

Mark Dearey warned of the psychological impact of the vote
Mark Dearey warned of the psychological impact of the vote

"I worry that if I'm taking cheese back across the border, I am going to be stopped."

Dundalk pharmacist Dermot Leavy said huge uncertainty surrounds those who live on one side of the border but work on the opposite side.

"The Government won't do anything if it's just the border towns trying to survive, it's only when it hits Dublin that something will be done," said Dermot, adding that consumers in border towns get great value for money.

Darlene Quigley, who can see the North from her back garden in Kilkerley, said the news is "deeply terrible".

"It's scary because we haven't had a border for so long. We are going back instead of forward." she said. "The town is only coming back to itself after being on its knees for a while."

The owner of Matthews Coaches, Paddy Matthews, said the Brexit is going to cause him headache.

"It means it is going to be more difficult if we're buying coaches from England. I just can't see any positives."

Local TD Peter Fitzpatrick described the possibility of a border as a "disaster".

Mark Dearey, who owns the popular Spirit Store venue, was questioning if people will cross a physical border for a night out.

"There will be a psychological impact - even the softest of borders will have an impact," he said.

Irish Independent

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