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Readers' reaction to PM's answers range from relief to regret

Cross-border commuting student Katie Moore

A CO Tyrone businessman who pitched a question to Theresa May about cross-border trade after Brexit has described the prime minister's response as "vague".

Kieran Kennedy, managing director of Strabane-based sportswear manufacturer O'Neills, told the prime minister that his company's raw materials sometimes crossed the border up to eight times before the product was completed. He was seeking guarantees that there would be no customs checks impeding his business.

While the Tory leader said she was committed to "avoiding any new barriers", Mr Kennedy was not assuaged by the response.

"In my opinion it is a typical vague answer from a politician – it lacks clarity on the issues raised," he told The Irish News.

"Basically there have been no commitments given and I feel that is due to the fact that they don’t know the answer themselves."

Co Armagh student Katie Moore, who was concerned about cross-border travel on public transport, welcomed Mrs May's commitment that her journey would be "seamless" after the UK severed ties with Brussels.

"I am relieved that my journey will continue to be seamless," she said last night.

"I am sure other students from Northern Ireland in similar circumstances to myself will also be reassured by her response on this matter."

Patric Harris, from Kilkeel, Co Down was disappointed that the prime minister would not consider a second referendum on EU membership.

"Having asked the people once is not a reason not to ask again otherwise there would be no need for general elections," he said.

Mr Harris said the upcoming negotiations would have "huge implications" for both Britain and Ireland.

"In the absence of asking the people again by way of a non-binding referendum it is all the more important that members of parliament in Westminster and local elected representatives are not hindered in any way from having a meaningful input into ongoing negotiations," he said.

Maire Gratton from Belfast asked how Mrs May would assess in five years' time whether Brexit had been a success and was not surprised by a response which pointed to trade deals and greater control over the UK's spending priorities.

"It might be good to have heard a little bit more detail specifically on the working relationships cross-border with the Republic post-Brexit," she said.

Belfast man Eugene McGoldrick concluded from Mrs May's answer that the authorities in the Republic would be responsible for helping police the UK border.

He had posed a scenario where a non-EU foreign national entered Ireland before travelling north and onward by boat to Scotland.

The prime minister said the person's travel documents "will be checked on arrival in Ireland" because that is the first point of entry into the Common Travel Area.

Retired customs officer Eamon Cassidy from Omagh, Co Tyrone accused Mrs May of failing to answer his question about how Brexit was prompting "moderates" to support Irish unity.

"Essentially, my question was not answered – I asked about 'any' hardening of the border and the response states 'no hard border or physical infrastructure at the border'," he said.

Sarah Hughes from south Belfast asked Mrs May how she could support Brexit having campaigned against it.

"I don't understand when Theresa May talks here about restoring parliamentary democracy, when she seemed extremely reluctant for Parliament to have a final vote on the deal," she told The Irish News last night.

"I also profoundly disagree with her point on the result of this vote not being a rejection of the values we share with other Europeans."

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