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Strabane protest planned as Brexit begins

IT has taken three-and-a-half years of debate, delays, protests and recriminations but tonight at 11pm, the UK will leave the European Union… and whether it’s for better or for worse remains to be seen.
 
The referendum, held on June 23, 2016, saw 52 per-cent of the UK population vote to leave the institution of which it had been a member for 47 years.
 
However, in Northern Ireland, 56 per-cent voted to remain and that fact still remains uppermost for a lot of people, compounded by uncertainty over the border, trade tariffs, possible repercussions for the migrant community and, in turn, the wider economy.
Tomorrow night, hundreds are expected to gather at protests across the Irish border, including one at Strabane/Lifford bridge.
 
Serious dangers
The ‘Border Communities Against Brexit’ group said serious dangers remain.
“Brexit in any form is bad for citizens, our economy, our peace and our future,” said a spokesperson.
 
“It remains the case that the British government has unilaterally decided to walk away from not only the EU, but also from important aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.”
 
Local politicians  may differ somewhat in their views, but all are united in that they want the best deal for Northern Ireland.
As for ‘Joe Public’, they will not see any obvious change over the next 11 months, during which there will be a ‘transition period’ to allow time for the UK and EU  to agree their future relationship.
 
For instance, travel up until December 31 will be unaffected and British citizens will not need a visa to travel to EU countries.
 
The UK will also remain in the EU’s customs union and single market meaning businesses will continue to trade as normal. The first task for those at the top will be to negotiate a trade deal with the EU, with the UK wanting as much access as possible for its goods and services.
The transition period can be extended for a further two years, although the British Prime Minister Boris Johnston has so far ruled this out.

On Tuesday, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said the British government will ensure Northern Ireland businesses will have “unfettered access” to the UK market after Brexit.

 
He was speaking after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain were “indispensable”, with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill raising concerns about the possibility of such checks in the Irish Sea.
 
Ms O’Neill said, “We are at an unprecedented moment in the history
of Europe and there is huge uncertainty.  The Irish protocol affirms that the Good Friday Agreement should be protected in all its parts, including no border north and south. We will hold both the British Government and European Union to these commitments and responsibilities throughout the negotiation.”
 
The UK must also agree how it is going to co-operate with the EU on security and law enforcement.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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