People close to border afraid Brexit could lead to violence – Derry Bishop-elect

‘Whenever there are political vacuums people with malicious intent seem to use them’

People in border communities are afraid Brexit could lead to an upsurge in violence, the Bishop-elect of the cross-border diocese of Derry and Raphoe has warned.

People in border communities are afraid Brexit could lead to an upsurge in violence, the Bishop-elect of the cross-border diocese of Derry and Raphoe has warned.

 

People in border communities are afraid Brexit could lead to an upsurge in violence, the Bishop-elect of the cross-border diocese of Derry and Raphoe has warned.

Church of Ireland Archdeacon Andrew Forster also said people in border areas were “completely frustrated” at the lack of clarity with less than six weeks to go until the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

“There is genuinely a lot of fear,” he said, “because people in the border communities have got used to having a border that was virtually irrelevant to everyday life.

“There is no sense of any direction of where we’re going. People are completely confused, and because people don’t know what’s happening there’s a growing concern that the border that runs right down though my new diocese, right down through Tyrone, Londonderry and Donegal, that that border becomes not just a physical border but a psychological concern for people.”

Archdeacon Forster, who was confirmed as Bishop-designate of the cross-border diocese this week, will take up his position in December.

He is currently based in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and is the former rector at the church associated with the family of the poet WB Yeats in Drumcliffe, Co Sligo.

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Archdeacon Forster said that the history of Ireland demonstrated that “whenever there are political vacuums people with malicious intent seem to use them.”

“We’ve seen that in Derry with the murder of Lyra McKee, and in Derry and Strabane last week with bombs which thankfully didn’t go off.

“We see people who have a very wicked intent wanting to step into vacuums,” he said, “and that’s why I think we need to be careful with the language used and careful with the way we relate to people maybe have different views or political persuasions to us.”

He referred to the “upsurge of community togetherness” in the wake of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans in April. “I think that’s what we really need to hold on to,” he said.

“We have a really resilient community north and south. Look at what we’ve come through, and I would have great faith in that resilience that no matter what happens people will be able to plot their way though it,” he said.

The Church of Ireland, Archdeacon Forster said, had been in existence long before there was a border in Ireland.

“When somebody from Limavady [in Co Derry] and somebody from Donegal are standing together in church worshipping, it doesn’t cross our minds that there’s a difference there,” he said.

“We need to look at the broader picture of our common humanity

“If some degree of a hard border comes back we’ll learn to live with that again but it doesn’t affect the relationships that we have as the family of God together,” he said.

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