Friday 21 September 2018

Brexit is bad news, but it can be a catalyst for good

Cross-border co-operation in Donegal and Derry is showing the benefits of joined-up thinking, writes Stephen Donnelly

CO-OPERATION: Derry city seen over the Peace Bridge
CO-OPERATION: Derry city seen over the Peace Bridge

Stephen Donnelly

I spent a few days in Donegal and Derry last month. Both are geographically isolated within their respective jurisdictions. But they are at the epicentre of Brexit, exposed more perhaps than anywhere else in Europe. Donegal is the only county in the Republic accessed via Northern Ireland from many places in Ireland, including Dublin.

Three thousand people cross from Donegal to Derry every day to work. Many cross in the opposite direction. Both counties are heavily invested in agriculture, which Brexit threatens in a hundred different ways.

Donegal has a strong fishing industry. Post-Brexit, the UK is determined to take back control of its territorial waters, which poses an existential threat to Ireland's fishing communities. Given all of this, the people of Donegal and Derry could be forgiven if they were reacting to Brexit with an air of despondency. But they are not. In fact, they're doing the opposite, and I found example after example of innovation, determination and cross-border cooperation.

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