Ireland 'needs fallback position' as hard border would be 'death knell' for border counties

Ireland should create a "safety net" to guard against a hard border after Brexit, a farmer on the front line said.

John Sheridan 56, deals in sheep and beef across the island from his farm in Florencecourt in Fermanagh and said Brexit could put him out of business.

Mr Sheridan's main fear was the impact of mounting regulation on his trade. His land goes right up to the border with the Republic of Ireland and he trades regularly across the frontier in livestock.

He said: "I am hoping Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar are putting down a safety net that no matter what way talks on trade go that there is a fallback position that no matter what happens we can never go back to a hard border.

"As long as there is no divergence from what we have today that is the main thing.

"Less of the divergence and more of the convergence, we are an economic island and that is the way that we want it to stay."

Peter Gallagher, 37, owns petrol stations both sides of the border in the villages of Belcoo and Blacklion, separated only by a narrow bridge.

He benefits from differing tax regimes.

A carbon tax on coal in the Republic of Ireland is not imposed in Northern Ireland, making it cheaper to bring it north to south in the winter time. Road diesel is cheaper in the Republic than Northern Ireland.

But Mr Gallagher said if queues formed at the border local people may not even go to the hassle of crossing.

"Any restrictions to the movement of people in particular will have catastrophic effect on areas like this in terms of tourism which we are very reliant on.

"We have a good situation at the present time and we want something that is as close to that as can be got.

"Any variation of what we presently have will be detrimental to business in these areas.

"We are a small area, isolated out on a fringe here, we are a lot of miles from Belfast, we get forgotten about with all major schemes and to lose the business we get from cross-border trade and from tourism will just shut areas like this down, there will be nothing left for young people to stay."

He said a hard border would be the death knell for the area.

"We are no longer in an economic climate where we can rely solely on agriculture, those days are gone, other business is needed and there is nothing to attract other businesses to this area if the border becomes very rigid and the movement of people and goods becomes near impossible."


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