ONE year on from the shock result in the EU referendum – and uncertainty still looms.
Last Friday (June 23rd) marked one year since Fermanagh voted to remain in the EU, but was dragged out of Europe by the close overall ‘leave’ vote.
The UK will leave the EU on March 29th 2019, at 11pm and in the past year, Article 50 has been triggered and negotiations have begun, but it is not clear what the future holds.
For the working people in Fermanagh, it would seem that nothing has changed. Last year, Pauline Gilmartin of Gilmartin’s Craft Shop in Belleek said that it would be ‘bumpy ride’ and one year on, she believes that the situation is no further forward.
“We are no further forward as we have still not had any reassurances about the future of the border. We are still in limbo and do not know what is going to happen. Our biggest concern is the border and the customs – those are barriers to trade because we operate in the South, the North and the UK.”
Fermanagh experienced a high volume of crossborder shoppers who were taking advantage of the slump in the exchange rate, but Brexit could have a long term negative impact on business here. John Treacy of Fermanagh Enterprise told the Herald how uncertainty and the unknown has had an immediate impact on businesses who have been thinking on making investments.
“This uncertainty is bad for business and is impacting on expansion and growth as business owners are holding back on investment decisions until they are clearer on how the Border issue will be sorted out. There is a strong view that a hardening of the Border is inevitable and for those businesses in Fermanagh who trade across the Border this will involve an increase in paperwork at the very least and queues at custom posts in a worst case scenario,” he warned.
Fermanagh and South Tyrone returned a resounding ‘remain’ vote in last year’s vote, with 63.1 percent of voters (31,963) casting their ballot to stay in the EU while 36.8 percent (18,659) opted to leave. The consistency had the highest turnout in the North, at 67.8 of voters turning out to have their say.