Priest to lead Border communities’ protest over Brexit

Fr Joe McVeigh says it will mark the beginning of a ‘mass movement of grassroots’

Father Joe McVeigh usually spends his Saturdays dealing with callers to his parochial house at St Michael's Church in Enniskillen, but tomorrow he will make a short 20-minute journey to stand on the Border.

Between Belcoo in Fermanagh and Blacklion in Cavan, the priest, along with neighbours and friends, will hold a "Border Communities Against Brexit" protest, urging the communities to "fight" the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union.

“I remember when most of the roads around the border were blown up by the British. We don’t want to go back to customs, checkpoints,” said the Fermanagh priest.

Meanwhile, other Border communities will gather at Carrickcarnon on the Louth-Armagh border, at Moybridge between Tyrone and Monaghan, Aghalane between Fermanagh and Cavan and Lifford Bridge between Tyrone and Donegal.


"This is only the start of a mass movement of the grassroots," Fr McVeigh said. "This is truly a bad deal for the people of Ireland as a whole and the people living in border regions in particular."


Since the June referendum result, said Fr McVeigh, the British government has failed to “recognise and respect” those who voted to remain within the European Union.

"We need to fight, that's what the protests this weekend are about: to have the North seen as a special case within Europe because of the long history of the conflict and the backing we have seen from Europe for the peace process," he added.

Memories of The Troubles run deep. “Anybody who has lived in a border area will know all about the inconvenience and hardship that is caused when governments insist on making an issue about controlling the movement of people and goods,” said Fr McVeigh.


“Many of us certainly experienced it in the years 1968-1998.

“During this period we were subjected to intense scrutiny and harassment by British soldiers and RUC.”

Last Monday, Northern Ireland's First Minister, the DUP's Arlene Foster insisted that there would be no "hard border" between the North and the Republic once the Brexit negotiations are finally concluded.

“There had been times when I wished, over this past 40 years, that we had a hard border between us and the Republic of Ireland. Times when people were being murdered at will along the Border, but there was no hard Border,” she said.

Fr McVeigh said the six protests tomorrow are “only the start of a mass movement of the grassroots”.