Greg Daly and Chai Brady
Priests in border parishes have said that anxiety is growing as the countdown to Brexit continues and the British government appear without any credible plan to stop chaos at the border.
It comes amidst claims that the British are proposing a so-called buffer zone with checks on both sides of the border – just not at the actual border.
Co. Tyrone-based Fr Paul Fraser, PP of Ardstraw West & Castlederg and of Termonamongan said there is deep fear in the community about the uncertainty. “People are very, very apprehensive,” he told The Irish Catholic. He accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of engaging in “magical thinking”.
“If there are going to be border checks then the bottom line is you need some sort of infrastructure in order to carry those out – it doesn’t matter if they’re six miles inside the perimeter or wherever, they’re still going to become targets,” Fr Fraser said.
Fr Colm O’Doherty, PP Clonleigh and Adm. of Urney & Castlefin, which straddles the border, said many people are frightened by the prospect of the border. “As somebody who remembers the border very well, it’s not even as much the physical border and checkpoints and all that – the return of the border mindset is muchmore disturbing, because it looks back to the bad old days.
“If they started putting up structures, that really would cause problems because that would give certain people a sense that they have the right on behalf of the people to start doing damage,” he warned.
Fermanagh-based Fr Joe McVeigh said that he believes many people are also angry as well as fearful.
“There’s a certain feeling of helplessness and hopelessness around the place with regard to the British Government and the role of the DUP in all of this.
“There’s anger out there, certainly in our community, this hasn’t been sorted out yet,” according to Fr McVeigh.
He said that he believes the time may be right to question the constitutional future of Northern Ireland.
“The whole thing is very serious from an economic point and a political point of view…those of a Republican mindset are saying this is bringing us closer to the necessity of holding a border poll,” he said.
Fr McVeigh said he believed that such a poll is “the only way the people of Ireland can sort this out and respond in a political way to the total uncertainty and the total fear of what might happen with the Tories in power”.