THERE ARE real fears that Brexit could see the effective closure of dozens of roads along the Fermanagh border.
During the Troubles Fermanagh had just five main border crossings in Fermanagh. Today, there are a total of 55.
Locally anti-Brexit campaigners are voicing concerns that a hard border will see checkpoints returning on main cross crossings like the old British army installations at Mullan, on the main Derrylin to Cavan road and at Wattlebridge on the main Newtownbutler to Cavan road.
And of even more concern is the very real prospect that the network of smaller cross-border roads linking communities north and south would be sealed off to ensure any hard border was ‘watertight’.
With the triggering of Article 50 next Wednesday, the process of the UK leaving the EU effectively begins.
Last week, the UK’s Brexit secretary, David Davis said the UK would adopt technology to cover the movement of goods between the two parts of Ireland. However, that’s a promise that few anti-Brexiteers here are ready to swallow.
Enniskillen clergyman, Fr Joseph McVeigh, who is a member of the Border Communities Against Brexit, pointed to the fact that Fermanagh has 55 border crossings.
“Back in 1990 when I was based in Garrison, five main crossings in the county were open and the other 50 closed. It was a nightmare for everybody, families, farmers, people wanting to travel across, for everybody living on the border.
“If that scenario was every reintroduced, people will not stand for it.”
But, it seems that the Irish Government has begun identifying possible locations for checkpoints along the border as fears grow of a “hard Brexit”.
And, officials in Dublin have expressed fears that full “red and green channel” customs points may be needed, with border checks in Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Donegal, the four southern counties adjoining Fermanagh, as well as Co Louth.
Michael Lux, a former head of the European Commission’s customs procedures unit, has already stated that controls at the Irish border will return post-Brexit.
But, as far as Border Communities Against Brexit goes, that is not on.
Its spokesman, Fr McVeigh explained: “We are going to be issuing a number of statements making our demands clear that there will be no return to any kind of border checkpoints, border posts or closing of roads.
“We want to maintain the peace process. It is the most important thing of all and a key element of the process is freedom of movement and free trade.
For more on this story see this week’s Fermanagh Herald