Donegal Pharmacist Tom Murray has called on all the county's TDs and Councillors - from all parties and none - to oppose the re-imposition of border restrictions in the wake of the Brexit vote and to start standing up for the right of the North to remain within the EU.
Mr Murray heads the Donegal branch of Border Communities Against Brexit. This is a group of people representing the business, community and farming sectors, and individuals, who have come together out of concern that the North’s remain vote will not be respected.
Tom Murray said: “Many people in Donegal are deeply concerned about the devastating impact that Brexit will have in the border region and we now want to make sure our voices are heard. I believe that pressure must force the British Government into respect the North’s remain vote.
“In June, the people of the North of Ireland voted to remain within the European Union. It makes absolutely no sense to have one part of Ireland operating within the EU and another outside it.
“However, the British Government insists that it will impose Brexit against the democratic wishes of the majority of people living there.
“Brexit will have a devastating impact on border communities here in Donegal.
“Donegal is bordered by the Counties of Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh all of which are now be dragged out of the EU.That is why communities, farmers and business people in Donegal are demanding that the British and Irish Governments respect the North’s remain vote. The North can and should remain in the EU.
“The prospect of County Donegal being virtually encircled by a new EU frontier, is not something we can accept. It would create real hardship for people in Donegal who cross the border on a daily basis and we could very well be facing customs checkpoints, traffic delays and the closure of local border roads.
Mr Murray continued, “The uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum result is already damaging trade and investment and causing currency fluctuations which are impacting on cross-Border business.
“But all of that will be overshadowed if we see the imposition of tariffs and the restriction of the free movement of goods, services and people across the border.
“Brexit will be detrimental to the economic future of Donegal and will impact on trade and tourism.
“The end of EU economic support for peace-building and border communities will hit many vital community projects.
“Over the past decade the EU has spent over £1 billion in the North and border areas on projects for furthering the peace process. These funds may well be lost as a result of Brexit.
“New restrictions on cross-border agricultural trade would be a devastating development for farmers in border counties like Donegal. Farming communities, North and South, have always worked together. This should continue.
“People’s access to the nearest medical care or ambulance service may be disrupted and, as a result, lives of border residents will be put at risk by Brexit.
“I am calling an all ejected representatives in Donegal - from all parties and none - to oppose the return of a hard border, to stand up for the right of the people in the North to remain within the EU, for the votes of people there to be respected, and for the Government to prioritise the interests of border counties like Donegal in all and any deliberations regarding Brexit.”
Meanwhile spokesperson for the Fermanagh branch of the group, Fr. Joe McVeigh, said the people of the North of Ireland voted to remain within the European Union.
“It makes absolutely no sense to have one part of Ireland operating within the EU and another outside it.
“However, the British Conservative Government insists that it will impose Brexit on the North of Ireland against the democratic wishes of the majority of people living here.
“Brexit will have a devastating impact on border communities like ours and that is why we are demanding the British and Irish Governments respect the North’s remain vote.
“With the end of EU subsidies, farmers will suffer a dramatic loss of income, people’s access to the nearest medical care or ambulance service may be disrupted and opportunities will be lost for students as Northern colleges will no longer have access EU research funding.
“Not to mention the damage to trade and investment, the end of EU economic support for peace-building and community projects and the already evident currency fluctuations.
Fr. McVeigh, a devoted community activist continued,
“No one who lives in Fermanagh wants to see any of this. We do not want any barriers or borders on the island of Ireland.
“For this reason, border communities are mobilising for a major ‘Day of Action’ on Saturday 8th October against any strengthening or reinforcement of the border. There are two demonstrations in Fermanagh – one at the Belcoo/Blacklion border and one at Aghalane Bridge, both at 3pm.