Members of Border Communities Against Brexit meet French ambassador to Ireland

A delegation from Irish border communities has met the French ambassador to Ireland to state their case against a hard border.

Border Communities Against Brexit members Tom Murray, Bernard Boyle and Majella Murphy met ambassador Stephane Crouzat in Dublin on Thursday to explain the consequences of a hard border to those who live and work between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“We had a very successful meeting with the French ambassador,” Mr Murray said afterwards.

“He understood the issues as far as were concerned about the importance of the Withdrawal Agreement and a hard border being reimposed.

“He welcomed our views and seemed to express the same views as us.

“He reaffirmed the French position as the same as the Irish position.

“A hard border would be a tragedy, we can’t even forecast how bad it would be.

“It will be devastating.

“Those who visit the border understand the importance but we have yet to have a single member of the Tory party to come visit.

“If they did they might understand the reality of the situation.”

The group has campaigned heavily in the past three years to highlight the impact Brexit would have on border communities, and has invited a number of European politicians to visit the border.

“We particularly wanted to meet the French ambassador because of the influence of France and president (Emmanuel) Macron,” Mr Boyle said.

The Irish government has ramped up preparations for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, as they say no viable alternative to the backstop has been proffered by the UK during negotiations with the EU, and the Irish border remains a sticking point for both sides.

According to the Irish Government, more than 30,000 people cross the Irish border daily for work and education unimpeded, as the current arrangement requires no tariffs, customs and checks.

Many more cross the border for recreational activity, medical treatment or to visit family.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit this is likely to change, as the UK will then become a third country, with an EU border on one of its member states, which trade legislation says will have to be manned or controlled for customs purposes.

Ms Murphy said that it is unthinkable that a hard border could be reintroduced after the work that was undertaken during the Northern Ireland peace process.

“We certainly don’t want a hard border back, especially for those of us who lived through it.

“You’re prevented going from A to B and you’re separated from your community.

“We’ve spent a lot of EU money reuniting these communities that were separated because of the hard border and the troubles and we want to make sure we don’t go back to that.

“We don’t want our roads blocked and we won’t have our roads blocked.”

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