STRABANE’S Chamber of Commerce president, Martin Gallen, says the British government’s current proposal for the North following Brexit could actually help attract businesses to the town.
“The people and businesses of Strabane and indeed across the North West gave a resounding vote in favour of remaining in the European Union,” said Mr Gallen.
“Following the Brexit referendum we have been forced down a road we didn’t want to go down. However, Theresa May’s decision to allow us to remain within the EU Customs Union has to be welcomed.
“We never voted to be in this situation but I very much welcome this proposal from Theresa May and firmly believe it would be better than a ‘no deal’ scenario.”
Under her draft withdrawal agreement Theresa May has promised to avoid a hard border between the North and South of Ireland.
In doing so, she has proposed that Northern Ireland remains aligned to parts of the EU’s single market.
If the withdrawal agreement is approved goods going out of the North would not have to be checked to see if they meet EU rules and Mr Gallen says this would make Strabane more attractive to businesses.
“We could certainly see a rise in businesses coming to Strabane from across the water in order to avoid customs checks. Also, for local businesses, like my own, which are based both in the North and in the South, this agreement would be a lot more beneficial.”
Emphasising that a return to a hard border in Ireland would be devastating, Mr Gallen added, “A hard border would risk returning back to the violence of the past and breach The Good Friday Agreement. Nobody wants to see a hard border in Ireland.”