The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, absolutely ‘gets’ Derry’s Brexit concerns and citizens’ fears it may pose an existential threat to our prospects of developing as one of Ireland’s main regional hubs over the decades to come.
Deputy Coveney said the potential damage Brexit could wreak to the social fabric of the Derry border zone was well understood by the Dublin government.
He said it was one of the main reasons Ireland had insisted on a British guarantee that there would be no border infrastructure during the crunch Brexit negotiations of late last year.
Speaking in the Dáil this week former Labour Party leader, Joan Burton, put it to Deputy Coveney: “Derry and Donegal are to all intents and purposes really one area except that they straddle two sides of the Border.
"What is going to happen in terms of Donegal and Derry itself in terms of its viability as an important city in the North West? I just do not get that the Minister understands quite how nervous, worried and upset people are.”
The Tánaiste robustly rejected this thesis, however.
He said: “Two weeks ago I was in Derry. Between Derry and Donegal, in a stretch of just over 20 miles, there are 320,000 Border crossings every week - people going to college or work, going to the doctor, visiting family friends and so on. I get it.
"I have spoken to many people who live on the Border and have visited the Border with foreign Ministers from other EU countries to explain it to them too. Believe me, we get it.”