WITH talk of a ‘hard’ border once the UK departs for the European Union, concerns have been raised that a sharp increase in smuggling could be on the cards for Fermanagh.
Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said much work needed to be done regarding future border arrangements.
Referring to a further commitment to an open border from Minister for Exiting the EU in parliament yesterday, Mr Elliott said: “When Article 50 is triggered, we will have two years before the UK is out of the EU whilst the Republic of Ireland remains. It is inevitable that this situation will provide many opportunities to those who wish to flout the law by smuggling goods across the border.
“Minister Davis and his Department must ensure that on the day we leave the EU, Northern Ireland has a safe and secure border that does not impinge upon trade and free travel but ensures that illegal trading does not become an even more lucrative enterprise for criminals.”
However, Cllr Brian McCaffrey said he did not believe smuggling was a big worry for the people of border areas such as his native Roslea, where the activity was quite prevalent in the past.
“There’s always probably been a certain amount of it around,” said Cllr McCaffrey, who said commodities such as fuel and heating oil were among items smuggled currently, which alcohol was in the past.
“It’s not a major concern, but it’s been around. Traditionally it’s not something people would shout about, and only those doing it would really know what is being smuggled.”
Cllr McCaffery added people were more concerned about other aspects of what could happen with the border, such as the many Roslea residents who work in the South.
“In practicality, there was never an open border here,” he continued. “What Theresa May has been talking about means absolutely nothing at all. If anything, it’s a step backwards.”OK
Seamus Carolan from Roslea Enterprise Centre went even further to state Brexit was “down the list of priorities” for the residents of the border village.
“The people of Roslea this kind of thing has been going on for thousands of years,” he said. The Vikings and the Normans came and went, and the EEC has now probably come and gone, and we’re still here.
“We’re more concerned here with the closure of our school, the potential closure of our medical practice and the fact no public authority housing has been built here in a generation. If you don’t have homes you don’t have families, and if you don’t have families you don’t have schools.”
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