AS Arlene Foster travelled to Brussels to talk Brexit on Tuesday, here in her home county frustration is rising at the lack of any clarity on the future of our border, now a year-and-a-half after the referendum.
Last week, having outright rejected detailed proposals from the EU on the border issue, Theresa May delivered a speech on Brexit that was generally accepted by the English media as “sensible.” In reality, the PM once again failed to reveal any concrete plans on the future of the border, or how to protect the Good Friday Agreement.
Then, this week, DUP leader Ms Foster met with chief EU Brexit Michel Barnier to reiterate what has become the party’s mantra, that the North must leave the Union on the same terms as the rest of the UK.
With Brexit ‘D day’ now exactly one year away, the people of Fermanagh are again calling for clarity.
Border business man Terry Hughes said, “We’re no wiser than we were a year ago. We thought in December everything was starting to look like it was the greatest deal ever for Northern Ireland.
“Now it looks as though we’re going to get shafted. It’s just so frustrating that we just don’t know.”
As for Ms Foster’s approach to EU withdrawal, he said he was unsure about her intentions.
“There’s part of me hopes she’s playing a blinder here and she gets it so Northern Ireland will be a completely special economic zone, that we’ll have freedom to deal with the EU and freedom to deal with the UK” he said.
“It would make the North basically one of the best connected countries in the world.
“To me, that’s a hope, but I just have this gut-wrenching feeling we’re heading into God knows where. If the border returns, you know the inevitable. You just get the feeling over the past two or three years that this country is taking a step backwards. Sectarian divides are opening straight back up again. There’s a lot of stuff coming back that we thought we were past.”
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