No border protest in Northern Ireland

Irish priests warn of danger of chaos on border as Brexit looms

Irish priests are warning of the “fear and anger” that exists along the border as the deadline on Brexit draws closer.

Driving the news

“People are very, very apprehensive”, parish priest of Ardstraw West and Castlederg and of Termonamongan in County Tyrone, Father Paul Fraser, told the Irish Catholic.

The priest added that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is engaging in “magical thinking” with his plans for the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Those plans now include putting up a “buffer zone” with customs posts on the Irish border.

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Go deeper

“If there are going to be border checks then the bottom line is you need some sort of infrastructure in order to carry those out – it doesn’t matter if they’re six miles inside the perimeter or wherever, they’re still going to become targets”, priest Fraser said.

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“If they started putting up structures, that really would cause problems because that would give certain people a sense that they have the right on behalf of the people to start doing damage”, added Father Colm O’Doherty, priest at Clonleigh and Urney and Castlefin, straddling the border.

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Why it matters

Joe McVeigh, a priest of Fermanagh, said that he’s noticed a feeling of “helplessness and hopelessness” over the scheming of the British Government and the Democratic Unionist Part (DUP).

“There’s anger out there, certainly in our community, this hasn’t been sorted out yet”, McVeigh warned.

“The whole thing is very serious from an economic point and a political point of view…those of a Republican mindset are saying this is bringing us closer to the necessity of holding a border poll”, he added.

McVeigh explained that such a vote is “the only way the people of Ireland can sort this out and respond in a political way to the total uncertainty and the total fear of what might happen with the Tories in power”.

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For the record

The president of the Irish Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, also referred to the Brexit drama last week on his visit to Santiago de Compostela in Spain for the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

“We don’t know what will happen but the feeling isn’t good, that’s for sure”, Martin told SIR.

“There are only a few weeks to go until the deadline and there’s still a lot of uncertainty”.

Lamenting the “growing sectarianism” and growing recourse to hate speech and violence, Martin called on politicians, civil society and religious authorities to preach “calm and moderation”.

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He pleaded with Prime Minister Johnson to respect the principles of the Good Friday agreement, so that this “most fragile” peace process in Ireland, “does not break down”.

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