Border town Belleek reflects on Theresa May’s visit

UK Prime Minister Theresa May chose to visit Belleek in Co Fermanagh, home to the famous Belleek Pottery Centre, on her first trip to the Irish border since the Brexit vote.

The River Erne runs through the town, along the border between Cavan in the South and Fermanagh in the North, which was awash with tourists taking in the sunshine.

Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster at the Belleek Pottery Factory (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA)

Locals and tourists alike were bemused by news of the high-profile visitor, but thought it was important she saw the border first hand.

Siobhan McGrath, from the town, said: “I don’t mind Theresa May being here, you need to see the border to understand it.

“I think Brexit could be a lot better organised, although I don’t know enough about it.

Siobhan McGrath (Niall Carson/PA)

“I remember a hard border when I was young, and being stopped by the police, so I would hate to see a return to that.”

Joseph Dallas, from Derry, expressed confidence a hard border would not materialise.

“Theresa May has said there won’t be a hard border so I think everything is going to stay the same,” he said.

“I don’t think people who live around the border are very worried, I think everyone knows there won’t be a hard border.

Joseph Dallas (Niall Carson/PA)

“It would be much too hard to police.”

Hazel Hatton, from Portsmouth, said Mrs May’s visit was important.

“I don’t think it’s ever too late for her to visit,” she said.

“I think it’s important that Theresa May has come, she needs to speak to the people who live here and are affected by it. She needs to see it for herself.”

Her husband Colin Hatton said he believed a hard border would be a “step back”.

Hazel and Colin Hatton (Niall Carson/PA)

“There will be extra people working on the border I think, extra paperwork, more CCTV picking up registrations going through,” he said.

“It will be policed in some way, even without a hard border.”

Shahani McQuaid, from Derry, said the visit was late coming.

“I think she should’ve been here a year ago,” she said.

Barry McQuaid, also from Derry, expressed concern.

Shahani and Barry McQuaid (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think Brexit is dragging us back to the 1970s,” he said.

“We should leave things the way we are, this is not the way to look forward.

“Think of the money businesses are going to lose, tourism will be affected, the Good Friday Agreement will be affected.

“The peace process has done so much and this is dragging us back, those days are gone, people want to put those days behind them, Brexit is not the way to do this.”

- Press Association

 

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