British Prime Minister Theresa May came under fire last week for avoiding a visit to the border prior to Brexit.
Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew criticised the Tory leader for not visiting the border on her tour of the four nations of the UK. Mrs May instead went to a farm outside Bangor to recognise the importance of agriculture to the North’s economy.
Ms Gildernew made her comments to Adam Boulton of Sky News who visited Enniskillen last Thursday to mark one year until the UK is due to leave the EU.
“Theresa May is in the North today. Where is she? She’s in Bangor. Michel Barnier (the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator) has been on the border. David Davis (Brexit secretary) hasn’t been there nor Boris Johnston (Foreign secretary) nor Theresa May. The Tory government do not understand what it means for people living on the border and they have never tried to understand,” she said.
When later quizzed, Mrs May declined to commit to a future visit to the border counties: “My diary over the next year hasn’t yet been set, but all I am saying is I understand. I think it’s not a question of just whether I actually go and stand on the border, it’s a question of do I understand the impact that has for people?”
Writer, film maker and teacher Carlo Gebler, was among those who spoke to Mr Boulton on his All Out Politics broadcast from Enniskillen Castle. He moved to Fermanagh in July 1989 to write a book about the Troubles in the countryside. Looking ahead to Enniskillen’s future, he expressed concern that society locally was already polarising ahead of Brexit.
“We had a wonderful system, a border that was a non-border. I don’t think it’s going to last. If you have an arrangement and you start to mess with it, what you end up with is not the arrangement that you had. Nobody knows what the future will be. I can tell you that what we had was fantastic – people’s identity was not contested. People moved backwards and forwards and you could call yourself whatever you want. All that’s going to go.”
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