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To think prominent members of the UK Government are still so oblivious to the border issue is both terrifying and mind-boggling

Since I wrote last in April we seem no closer to solving what will happen after March 29 next year, says County Meath beef farmer Eamon Cassells.

I noticed that Jacob Rees-Mogg recently declared that that after Brexit, people crossing the Irish border should be subject to ‘inspections, just like during The Troubles’.

 

Surprisingly enough there is good reason why that particular period was called ‘The Troubles’, and not, ‘That really fun time in Irish history’. A hard border was a significant part of that.

 

To think that prominent members of the UK Government are still so oblivious to potential impacts of the border issue so late into the game is both terrifying and mind-boggling.

 

I remember as a child crossing the border to get from Meath to Donegal, both in the Republic, and feeling the tension as our car was inspected by on edge Squaddies.

 

Common

 

Thankfully we have gone from that to the only sign of the country you are in changing is the road signs going from kilometres per hour to miles per hour.

 

These kind of crossings from South to North and back to South again are common along the border region.

 

If you drive from Lisburn to the North to Carrick-on-Shannon in the Republic you will cross the border five times, four of which will be in the space of six miles.

 

“I have had enough of the politics!” I hear you scream, “bring it back to farming!”

 

Regulatory alignment

 

OK then. Think of that same road and the milk lorry that is collecting milk from farms on both side of the border for processing in the Republic.

 

If the same truck is subject to inspections every time the border is crossed that leads to a considerable cost.

 

There are a million breeding ewes in Northern Ireland. 30 to 40 per cent of the lamb crop heads south each year.

 

Large numbers of cattle cross over to be sold in marts on either side every week. If there is no regulatory alignment the cross-border trade for farmers on either side will be severely hit.

 

No-deal

 

Worse still, there is a sizable number of farmers with land on either side of that imaginary line.

 

If a no-deal Brexit happens they will be left unable to move stock from one field to another within their own farm.

 

Some of you may shout ‘project fear!’ but that is nothing but a buzzword to dismiss fact and expert opinion.

 

We despair when that is done in relation to glyphosate by keyboard warriors or eating meat by vegans; I would hope that farmers would not be drawn into the same trap.

 

Eamon can be found tweeting at @Eamon4prez.

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