Northern Ireland news

'Civil disobedience' would follow if border checks introduced in rural communities

Independent Councillor John McCluskey who lives just yards from the Fermanagh border.

People living close to the border will "simply refuse to comply" with future checks in the event of a no deal Brexit and smuggling will become "Ireland's biggest industry", it has been claimed.

Despite the assurances of both the British and Irish governments that there will be no border infrastructure following EU withdrawal, the Operation Yellowhammer report, detailing a crash out contingency plan, has said an open border is "unsustainable".

The report said the "no checks with limited exceptions" model to avoid the risk of a hard border "is likely to prove unsustainable in the long term".

Independent councillor John McCluskey who represents Erne East in Co Fermanagh said the "contradictory statements" from the British government has created a lot of anger in rural border communities.

Mr McCluskey, who lives less than ten yards from the currently invisible border, said seamless links between both Cavan and Monaghan were vital for local trade.

There are currently more than 300 border crossings, both major and minor, which would potentially require some type of monitoring after Brexit.

"If there are checks of any kind there will be civil disobedience, in term of non-compliance on both sides of the border", Mr McCluskey said.

"I don't just think this to be the case, I know from speaking to local people daily, especially those involved in farming that this will be the position adopted by the majority.

"People just won't put up with it, there is no one I have spoken to who is willing to comply with being stopped, whether that's by customs, army or whoever.

"With mobile phones people can gather a crowd of supporters within minutes and that will result in protests at any attempt to harden the border.

"There also been very little mention of what Brexit will mean for prices of goods on both side of the border", Mr McCluskey said.

"Any differential of pricing will intensify smuggling, it'll be the biggest industry in Ireland, opportunists are just waiting to see what happens, those involved in part time smuggling will be turning it into a full time career.

"I can envisage trouble if they place any checks at the border and if they don't, well then the border would become a nonsense and we would eventually have to realign with the rest of the island.

"I was at a meeting on Clones (Co Monagahan) just last week and those from the farming community were especially angry and almost everyone in that room was in agreement that if any type of structure was put up there would be trouble.

"That isn't people threatening violence, it's simply stating how people are feeling at this time, they are worried but they are also angry", he added.

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