Destined members voice concerns over Brexit as Article 50 triggered

Destined members and volunteers join others as they depart for Stormont on Wednesday to protest over the implications of Brexit.
Destined members and volunteers join others as they depart for Stormont on Wednesday to protest over the implications of Brexit.

Adults with learning disabilities have expressed their concerns over the potential impact of Brexit.

Members of local charity Destined were among a delegation of local people who travelled from Derry to Stormont on Wednesday to protest as the British government began the process of leaving the EU.

Destined members Conor O'Donnell, George Harkin (chairperson), Kaelan Northey, Leo Gallagher, and Dermot O'Hara, (manager).

Destined members Conor O'Donnell, George Harkin (chairperson), Kaelan Northey, Leo Gallagher, and Dermot O'Hara, (manager).

People from across Derry and Inishowen were among those who made the journey.

Speaking to the Journal before boarding a specially commissioned bus, Destined member Leo Gallagher (23) said: “I actually live out on a hill next to Bridgend just outside the border and we cross the border on a daily basis and if what they say about bringing the borders back is true, we will have to go through this slow, patronising, and frankly annoying border checks.”

Kaelan Northey (24) said he was concerned that people may have to start paying for prescriptions or to visit doctors and dentists in the future if conditions were to change.

He added that during previous protests at the border it was clear how many different people Brexit would affect.

Conor O’Donnell (25) said Brexit was affecting funding and people’s money. His concerns were shared by Destined chairperson George Harkin (56), who said: “I think there shouldn’t be any Brexit at all because it could do damage in the long run. I think in terms of funding and benefits and in all different types of ways it could affect people. It could affect people’s way of living, managing your home, your quality of life. Brexit could wreck a lot of things.”

Destined Manager Dermot O’Hara, who is also involved in Border Communities Against Brexit, said options including an inclusive united Ireland now needed to be given serious consideration.

He said: “It’s very clear that what Brexit means in south east England is a totally different ball game to what it means here, and we are going to have negative impacts, whether it is a hard or soft border, right across the board.

“Some of our members would live in the south and would travel regularly across the border. Nobody knows what is going to happen in terms of people travelling across the border. We don’t know what the tariffs are in terms of customs and goods. I’m talking to business people here in the city and a number of them have made the commitment or are actively exploring moving their operations to Donegal.

“We are going to cut off Inishowen, our natural hinterland, again, and with the repeal of the Human Rights Act, all the Section 75 groups are going to be affected, including people with disabilities.”