Britain’s border in Ireland needs to go

Posted By: March 27, 2019

“Border Communities Against Brexit” is continuing its campaign against the British border in Ireland.

Jim Gibney. Irish News. Belfast.Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 THE ‘Border Communities Against Brexit’, BCAB, is providing a great service to the people of this nation, all the people, irrespective of their political allegiance.

Since their formation in 2016, they have helped to place Britain’s border in Ireland at the center of the political debate with a particular focus on its impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people now and in the context of a Border returning, in any shape or form, as a result of Brexit and Britain leaving the European Union.

In July 2017 in recognition of their sterling work the European Parliament awarded the group the European Citizen’s Prize.

Britain’s border – not the Irish border, as the British and international media like to report it as if it was a product of the Irish people – has been at the center of an armed struggle between Republicans and the British government for nearly 100 years.

It has caused the deaths of several thousand people with thousands injured and scores of thousands of people going to gaol.

Yet day-to-day life on both sides of the Border, unless you live there, is largely unknown.

The BCAB has broken through the ignorance of the personal, family and community consequences of living on the border.

Its campaigning work has complemented the stance taken by the Irish government in its opposition to Brexit, which has been supported by all the political parties in Ireland, north and south, except unionists.

The BCAB has lobbied in Belfast, Dublin, London, and Brussels and it has added its support and voice to the EU in its efforts to avoid the return of an economic border to a post-conflict Ireland.

It has mobilized a diverse and disparate rural community, nationalist and unionist, to ensure people know the reality of day-to-day life and the disruption that will be caused to it should a border return.

This Saturday the campaigning group has planned a series of protests, along the border, at 3 pm, at Old Dublin Road, Carrickcarnon, Moybridge, Aughnacloy, Aghalane, Belcoo, Lifford Bridge and Bridgend.

The purpose of the protest is to give people the opportunity to vent their anger at the British government and the DUP and to make it clear to both that there is popular opposition as well as parliamentary opposition to Brexit.

In the course of the campaign over the last two years, it has been at pains to remind everyone that a hard Border existed for most of the last 100 years of partition.

In fact, until 1993, when the EU introduced the Single European Market, there were Border custom checks, on goods and services and foreign nationals.

In addition to this during the armed conflict, the British army heavily militarized the border region erecting military installations on the hills and mountains along the 310 miles-long border.

They also blocked roads with bollards and spikes and cratered them and destroyed bridges.

The small number of roads that were left open had permanent check-points and vehicles and people were constantly under armed surveillance.

The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, created slowly, a new reality for the Border communities where the infrastructure of repression was replaced with the free movement of people, goods and services north and south.

This change led to a lifting of the fortress mentality that people lived under and opportunities emerged for the Irish government and The North’s executive to look at investing in the region.

But almost a century of living on the periphery of Dublin and Belfast-based economies, where both states developed back-to-back, and separately, meant that progress and change was slower than what is needed.

And the uncertainty created by Brexit threatens to drag the communities back to a place they thought they have escaped from due to the peace process.

It is estimated monthly that 180,000 lorries, 210,000 vans, and two million cars cross the border, and that 30,000 people cross it to work daily.

Next week representatives of the BCAB will be back in Brussels, lobbying MEPs to continue to hold the line and force the British government and parliament to accept the deal on offer from the EU which Theresa May negotiated.

This is the only way the free movement of people, goods, and services will continue to be carried in lorries, vans and cars over Britain’s border in Ireland.