Protest over Article 16 to be held on Lifford-Strabane border

A DEMONSTRATION is taking place this weekend at the Strabane-Lifford border crossing amid growing speculation that the UK government is set to trigger Article 16.

The protest is one of five being staged by the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) grouping on Saturday at 3pm in support of the protocol.

Simultaneous mobilisations are planned at Carrickcarnon, Belcoo-Blacklion, Aughnacloy and Bridgend.

Talks between London and Brussels over the protocol are continuing and there is speculation that the UK could be poised to trigger Article 16 in the coming weeks.

Boris Johnson's government has set a December deadline for a resolution in the talks.

The protocol is a mechanism that prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland as it effectively keeps Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market for goods, but it is resulting in some checks for products crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

BCAB says the threat to trigger Article 16 of the treaty is a threat to the peace process.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's demonstration, Declan Fearon, chair, said: “Boris Johnson’s government has been pursuing a reckless course in negotiations with the EU around the protocol, including threats to trigger Article 16.

“Recent British government statements and actions are posing a very direct threat to the peace process, the all-island economy and raising once again the horrific prospect of a return to a hard border in Ireland.

"We are calling on Boris Johnson to back off and to protect and implement the protocol.

“Communities, businesses, workers, farmers and students along the border want the protocol to be implemented in order to protect jobs, livelihoods and community life on this island.

“Businesses, manufacturers and farmers are benefitting from the protocol and thousands of jobs are being created and secured as a direct result of it.

“The protocol has mitigated the worst effects of Brexit for communities such as ours.

“The majority of people and political parties in the North opposed Brexit and support the protocol as the key mechanism to prevent a hard border and protect the all-island economy and Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Fearon said the "dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric" emanating from the government "is now undermining all of the progress we have made in recent years".

“They need to listen to the concerns of border communities, to businesses and to farmers who will be devastated by any triggering of Article 16," he added.

“Communities along the border are determined not to be dragged back to the past.

"It is shocking after years of Brexit uncertainty for border communities, that a deal which was signed only a very short time ago is being torn apart.

“We will not allow any re-imposition of a hard border and the untold social and economic damage this would cause.

“We will not allow the peace process to be undermined."

Urging a large turnout on Saturday, Mr Fearon continued: "We are asking everyone living along the border, on either side, to make an effort to attend their nearest demonstration.

"We are calling on all trade unions, representative groups, civic leaders, sporting organisations and citizens to join with us on Saturday, November 20 at 3pm to say loudly to Boris Johnson to back off and protect the protocol."

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