Border communities are fearful of a return to tensions in the region if Britain goes ahead with a threat to break a treaty agreeing a frictionless frontier, the country’s newest bishop has warned.
Bishop of Kilmore Martin Hayes told The Irish Catholic he was aware that priests and parishioners in border parishes were nervous that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could lead to a rise in tensions.
“There would be serious implications [of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit], north and south of the border,” he said. “They [border parishioners and priests] just do not want to go back to the inconvenience of the past…or where you had customs checks on both sides of the border”.
It comes after the British government confirmed that they are willing to break the treaty already agreed with the European Union which guarantees that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.
Bishop Hayes said: “There would also be a fear that tensions could rise again…people do not want to be returning to the past, they have enjoyed the relative peace of the last 20 years or so – and that would be shared by both the Catholic and Protestant communities along the border.”
Bishop Hayes (60) also said he believes that vocations to the priesthood and the renewal of the Church will only happen when parishes prioritise youth ministry.
“Because of the fact that I have come from a youth faith movement and lay ministry, I am a great believer in promoting that…I am convinced that if we promote lay ministry, and involve young people, and give them a role [in the Church] then vocations will come out of that,” Bishop Hayes said.
“But, we need to allow young people to find their own feet,” he said, warning that a return to the past will not satisfiy their spiritual hunger.