'Nightmare Brexit scenario' of hard border getting closer, warns residents' group
The clock is ticking towards a "nightmare scenario" of a hard border re-emerging on the island of Ireland, a residents' group has warned.
Border Communities Against Brexit said people living on the Irish border are becoming increasingly concerned for the future of the local economy, farming and free movement of people.
The group unveiled a Brexit countdown clock at the border in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, ahead of their mass demonstration on Saturday.
With four days left on the clock, residents say a no-deal Brexit scenario will have devastating consequences for industries, jobs and the movement of people crossing the border every day to work, study or trade.
The group's spokesman Declan Fearon said: "We are now reaching the nightmare scenario that we have envisaged from day one and the clock is ticking.
"There are several days left until Friday night and we are at the point now where people living on the border are very concerned."
He accused the British government of refusing to meet with local residents and those who will be most impacted by a hard border.
He explained the purpose of the clock was to "focus people's minds" around the reality of Brexit.
Mr Fearon described how the previous hard border divided communities and people, and kept some 250 roads closed.
"A return of the hard border will once again divide communities socially and split parishes, it really is a nightmare," he added.
"We always knew it was going to come to this. No one in the last three years has come to close to a solution.
"No one has convinced us that we will not have road closures, that is what is on the cards.
"Right from day one Theresa May has been trying to appease the very right-wing groups within her party, especially the ERG (European Research Group) and the DUP who are crucial in all of this.
"The Brexit chaos at Westminster continues with MPs simply jockeying for position in a race to become the next prime minister, while at the same time seeking to prevent a split in the Tory party which is the government's number one priority."
Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin assembly member Conor Murphy, who also attended the unveiling of the clock, said that London has failed to provide solutions to prevent a hard border from re-emerging.
"This community and communities like it across the border region have bore the brunt of partition for the last 100 years," he added.
"I don't doubt that Europe is now looking to protect the integrity of its Single Market and that is very worrying for people who live in this area.
"Communities here have been starved of investment for many years.
"The ultimate solution to all of this is the end of the border and reunification is the solution which should suit Britain and Europe, but until we can get to that point then we need to ensure the livelihoods of these regions do not become collateral damage of British government action and policy."