The irish border post Brexit
Brexit: People Living on the Irish Border Share Their Fears
By Jordan Brooks
As the uncertainty over how Brexit will work continues, one of the most significant issues remains the UK's border with the Republic of Ireland. A troubled region historically, the lack of a clear vision and a detailed plan of how exactly the frontier will operate is already making the lives of ordinary people and businesses more complicated. Sputnik went to the area to investigate. Our journey starts in Belfast...
Driving on the Irish border © Sputnik, Jordan Brooks
Paddy Hughes has been running a horse food supplement business on the border for the last 10 years.

He tells us the worries he has for the cost of running his business after Brexit.
"Our concerns in relation to Brexit are; What are the tariffs going to be? What's it going to cost me to export my products into Europe? Will the export tariffs and paperwork increase the products I make so much we are not competitive in Europe? No one seems to know the answer and that's the fear factor where we are right now. I export products all over the world, to export a pallet of product to Germany at the minute all I need is a packing list, to export a product to the Middle East, I need chamber of commerce stamps, veterinary inspections, embassy stamps, courier fees. They all add to the price of me being competitive abroad."

Paddy Hughes
Business Owner
"The fear factor is how competitive will I be in Europe if the tariffs are high and the paperwork is high."
It doesn't look like it, but this is the current border separating Northern Ireland and the UK with the Republic of Ireland just outside Newry.
The border between Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland in Newry © Sputnik, Jordan Brooks
The Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted he is confident there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland, despite being warned the issue remains a "riddle to be solved".
The Taoiseach said it is "written in black and white" meaning there is an agreement between the EU and the UK a hard border will be avoided.
The UK government and the EU want to maintain the free flow of goods, without border checks they fear could threaten a return to The Troubles, but the DUP does not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK after Brexit.

The joint EU-UK document says any future deal must protect "North-South co-operation" and hold to the UK's "guarantee of avoiding a hard border".

The agreement also says "no new regulatory barriers" will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and Northern Ireland's businesses will continue to have "unfettered access" to the UK internal market.

With no new regulatory barriers agreed, it doesn't stop businesses having to consider where they will have to be based after Britain leaves the European Union.
"Well, first of all you've got the cost of moving, we are established here, we've been in business ten years here. To move the business to the south of Ireland would cost so many thousands of pounds. But if it's going to cost me to be non-competitive in Europe or non-competitive world wide with the tariff situation with paperwork with extra, as anyone in manufacturing will tell you, it's a very competitive market, we're talking about margins, anything that decreases our margin and our competitiveness is a real concern" - Paddy Hughes says.

Many border towns have joined together to speak out against Brexit and how it could affect them, with protests happening across many border crossings holding up traffic to highlight the dangers any impact on the frontier could have.
Tom Murray is a pharmacist in Donegal and part of the campaign group Border Communities Against Brexit.
He shares how he has been affected by Brexit on the border.

Brexit campaign poster © Border Communities Against Brexit
"I will be affected hugely because we are, our three pharmacies are on the border, we have patients that travel from both sides of the border to use our services, but more importantly our competitiveness as a retail element of the pharmacy is based on our ability to buy things across the border in the north significantly cheaper" - Tom Murray says.
"If customs duties are imposed that could effectively put up to 20% of an import tax on my goods, which would hugely effect our competitiveness, our price to the customers and even job security."
The view as you head back into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland
The border between Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland© Sputnik, Jordan Brooks
"I think the biggest impact has been the uncertainty, I've seen people who are not spending like they would in the past. We certainly have people who are more reserved; they don't know what's going to happen. We've seen different patterns of cross border shopping from customers, but what we really see is less people taking on new employment. I've spoken to a few people in our local chamber of commerce, there's less people taking on new employment, there's less businesses investing in business because they are unsure of the economic future," - Tom Murray says.
Border Communities Against Brexit poster on the border © Sputnik, Jordan Brooks
We traveled to speak to Dr Brendan Brown Assistant Professor of conflict resolution at Trinity College Dublin to discuss the impact of a hard border and his thoughts on how alignment between the UK & the EU could work.
"There hasn't been blue sky thinking on how they're going to minimize any disruption, the amount of people that travel back and forth through the border every day, whether for labor reasons or whether that be to visit family or farming or export of goods or importing whatever is colossal, if you take the very north of Ireland for example the border between Donegal and County Derry is so porous people cut across there for work every day twice a day, three times a day."
Dr Brendan Browne
Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution at Trinity College Dublin
"Now on saying there are other examples across Europe, where these types of fluid arrangements exist, recently I read work from a friend and a colleague of mine at Queens university Belfast Dr Katy Haywood whose highlighted how this type of border arrangement has been seen in operation in the likes of Norway and Sweden and the cooperation that goes on in the Scandinavian countries, whether or not that's something that can exist or going to exist here remains to be seen," Dr. Browne concluded.
Lee McGowan is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Queen's University Belfast. He has been doing research on the effects of Brexit, and he met with us to discuss the impact of Brexit in Ireland.

Brexit. © Pixabay
The whole process has been horrendously slow, complicated, more complicated than many people had actually imagined. I think in the run up to the referendum itself in June 2016, the Irish border issue only appeared as a topic for discussion close towards the end. Even in Whitehall after the referendum, the actual implications of the border issue in Ireland to Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland weren't actually fully understood. I think it took them a while to fully understand the politics of that border and the sensitivities of the border and that's made those negotiations a little bit more complex.
Professor Lee McGowan- Professor of Politics and International Studies
There's been a guarantee of no hard border - however, nothing else has being confirmed about how the divide between a member of the European Union and post-Brexit UK will look and work.

Unless the full process is set out in full detail, it will become increasingly difficult for ordinary people to plan their future, when it could end up costing them their entire livelihood.
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