Border parishes face anxious Brexit wait

Border parishes face anxious Brexit wait

As the deadline for a deal on Britain’s controversial exit from the European Union looms, border parishioners are anxious about the uncertainty, priests have warned.

Clones-based Msgr Richard Mohan told The Irish Catholic this week that there was “concern” in the parish, which is on the border between Co. Monaghan and Co. Fermanagh. He said people are keen that movement across the border would continue to be smooth.

“I’m concerned about that fact that our parish is divided by the border and the ease with which we can move from North to South. People have to cross many times throughout the day,” Fr Mohan said, adding that he also needs to cross the border to get from one church to another.

He added that the absence of a deal means that there is a “huge amount of speculation” about how Brexit will impact border counties, and that whatever problems arise, he is confident people will face the challenge. He said the issues are “not huge, they’re not insurmountable. We don’t want a border where we have to present passports or anything like that,” Fr Mohan said.


In Roslea, Co. Fermanagh, Fr John Chester said that people still remember difficulties before the peace process. “To some extent the border dictated a lot of life during the Troubles here. So, for example, the services that you’d put on in the chapel here in Roslea in Co. Fermanagh, you’d have to also put them on in the chapel in Smithboro, Co. Monaghan, which is the southern end of the parish.

“You would also find that neither side really gelled in a way, because the border did keep them apart. The checkpoints that were there during the Troubles made life very, very difficult,” he said.

He said that amongst parishioners “there is concern, but on the other hand we don’t know. We don’t know what the implications are; will there be a hard border or will it be a soft border?


“The other aspect of border life here is that a lot of border towns and villages, both North and South, are spiralling downwards demographically and economically as well.

“There’s a bit of a brain drain, because the young, if they go to college, it’s going to be the cities where they’ll tend to find jobs, so the border’s certainly a very struggling area.”