‘Critical’ May’s government visits Newry border

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

IT is "critical" that members of the UK Government visit the Newry border area.

That's according to the Chief Executive of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade after the Prime Minister effectively ruled out any visit to the border between now and the UK's exit from Europe in a year's time.

Theresa May was in Northern Ireland last week to mark one year until Brexit takes place. However, her decision to visit a farm in Bangor, rather than a location near or on the border, has raised eyebrows.

Mrs May said Northern Ireland and the farming industry "are integral parts of the UK's history, culture and our future - which is why I'm here to speak to farmers, hear their views and assure them that my mission is to deliver a Brexit deal that strengthens the bonds between us and ensures our industries and nations prosper as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world."

She was challenged if she was prepared to go to the border and see for herself the potential issues farmers were concerned about. However, Mrs May refused to give any commitments.

She said: "My diary over the next year hasn't yet been set. But it's not just a question of whether I actually go and stand on the border. It's a question of do I understand the issues as they impact the people directly - and I do.

"I absolutely understand how important this is for people generally in Northern Ireland but obviously particularly for those who are living close to, and in some cases, may have homes that straddle the border.

"Agriculture is one of the most significant industries in Northern Ireland, and what I'm doing here today is listening to farmers and representatives from the agri-food industry, hearing about what they want to see coming out of Brexit and what are the opportunities in the future."

The Chamber has held a meeting with the former First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Damian Green within the last year, however members of the Dublin government have been regular visitors to Newry over the same period. Former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny visited at the invitation of the city's Junior Chamber, while Táinste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit Simon Coveney and the Minister for European Affairs, Helen McEntee attended meetings here.

Mrs Meehan told the Democrat, "Newry Chamber has engaged in Brexit dialogue extensively pre and post Referendum at local, national and international levels.

"Now that we draw closer to the final EU departure, it is critical that Teresa May's Government visits this border area to assure the people that there will be no hard border and that our industries here can continue to enjoy frictionless trade both on a North South and East West basis."


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