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Anti-Brexiteers stage second protest at Strabane-Lifford border

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Anti-Brexiteers stage second protest at Strabane-Lifford border thumbnailSinn Féin's Pearse Doherty TD., Michaela Boyle and Pat Doherty MP., pictured at Saturday's anti-Brexit protest on Strabane-Lifford Bridge.

ANTI-Brexiteers have held a second protest amid fears of the return of a hard border once the UK's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) is formalised.

On Saturday morning a group of people from across the community including politicians, businessmen and community representatives opposed to Brexit, staged a short protest on the Strabane-Lifford Bridge.

Organised by the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB), the protest ran in tandem with similar actions at Dundalk, Aughnacloy and Bridgend.

Those taking part in the action held posters stating: "No border, no barrier" as vehicles passed freely between both jurisdictions with some tooting their car horns in support.

The group have warned that the possible return of border checkpoints and customs post will create insurmountable difficulties for the thousands who commute across the border every day.

Saturday's action came a day after Revenue Commissioners in the Republic of Ireland confirmed they are looking at locations for border checkpoints in Donegal for the return of full customs checkpoints as it prepares for Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

The disclosure was made to Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty - who also attended Saturday's protest - during a sitting of the Oireachtas Finance Committee.

The development has fueled fears of a return of a hard border despite assurances to the contrary from both the Irish and British governments.

BCAB's main spokesperson, Declan Fearon, says the group will hold further days of action to highlight its campaign.

"This week we were shocked to learn that Irish government's officials have already been out to many border roads to survey where any customs checkpoints will be located. This information came one day after An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said it is a vital national interest that there is no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland when the UK leaves the European Union.

"What on earth are we to believe? One day we hear it's vital there is no hard border, the next, the Irish government has been surveying.... We are sleeping walking into a hard Brexit and a hard border.

"It's simple, An Taoiseach and the leaders of all the political parties must clearly state that they will never build any structures on Ireland's border and that they will fight in Europe not to allow a hard Brexit and that the island of Ireland be treated as one entity in trade and the movement of its people," he said.

Mr Fearon also called on the Irish and British governments to publish their Brexit plans.

"The purpose of these protests is to show to the British the Irish governments and those parties who support Brexit, that we who wish to remain in the EU have a voice, that we are not going to quietly sit by while the future of our communities and our future generations are discussed and that we are presented in the near future with a fait accompli," he added,

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP., Pat Doherty revealed at the protest that he and local business people were due to travel to Westminister yesterday (Tuesday) to meet members of the House of Lords with a view to tabling an amendment to the Brexit Bill.

Meanwhile, party colleague, Michaela Boyle took the opportunity to call on the DUP to release the full details of funding it received for its pro-Brexit campaign.

"With the looming prospect of a hard border and its disastrous implications for the economic and social fabric of this island and particularly for border areas like ours, there is growing anger that a massive donation or massive donations where channelled through DUP coffers to finance its pro-Brexit campaign including a hugely expensive newspaper ad in a London newspaper which undoubtedly had some impact in helping to sway a pro-Brexit vote in England.

"The people of the North voted to remain in the referendum last June. The majority of citizens recognised the significant economic and political damage leaving the EU will create for farmers, local communities, jobs, and trade. The DUP need to come clean and clarify who gave them the money and how much they received," she said.

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