Derry Brexit concerns inform scathing letter

John Kelpie.
John Kelpie.

A scathing letter dispatched this week by the House of Lords EU Committee to the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, decrying a lack of clarity on what Brexit means for the border region was heavily influenced by civic and business leaders in Derry.

Serious concerns felt by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council were explicitly addressed in the letter. So too were the Chamber of Commerce’s anxieties over the likely disruptive impact of Brexit on the local economy.

DC&SDC Chief Executive John Kelpie is directly quoted in the missive: “The invisibility of the border over the past two decades has dramatically improved community development on both sides of the border and has facilitated local and national trade both sides of the border, not to mention copper-fastening the peace agreement.

“The prospect of this invisible border suddenly becoming visible and tangible again has caused great concern and great fear, both economically and socially. There is a real, palpable sense of potentially returning to a state of isolation and peripherality. That is a central issue that we have dealt with in this part of North West Ireland - the North Western part of the UK and the North Western part of NI - over the decades.”

DCC Chief Executive Seamus Neely’s view that there was “a huge amount of interconnectedness not only across the public services but across the employee base for private companies on either side of the border and across many other services such as education and health,” is also cited.

Equally, the letter informs Mrs. Bradley of Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer McKeever’s concern that “some local traders crossed the border a dozen times a day” and that “physical infrastructure such as cameras would immediately become a security risk”.

The Secretary of State has been asked to respond by March 27, 2018.