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EU poll: Over 25% fear Brexit would lead to border checkpoints in Ireland

By Yvette Shapiro

Published 27/05/2016

Opinion is sharply divided on the possible impact of a Brexit on north-south relations
Opinion is sharply divided on the possible impact of a Brexit on north-south relations

Opinion is sharply divided on the possible impact of a Brexit on north-south relations.

More than a quarter of the poll respondents believe it would lead to border controls or checkpoints, while the same number (27%) are convinced there would be no impact at all.

Men are most concerned about the appearance of checkpoints, with almost a third predicting this - just 22% of women thought physical barriers would be erected.

Between the communities, nearly a third of Catholics (31%) were concerned about checkpoints compared to 23% of Protestants.

The older generation, who remember border checks and queues of lorries at customs posts, mentioned this as a key concern. A third of those in the 55-54 age group raised it, compared to just 21% of those aged 25-34 who've seen little or no sign of a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The poll also reveals worries about cross-border trade restrictions as the result of Britain leaving the EU.

This was a particular concern for those from a professional background (31%) and reflects the fears of big business.

It's the EU that's generally blamed for strangling companies and farmers with bureacracy, but the poll shows that 11% of people believe red tape could actually increase if the UK leaves the EU.

Economic arguments have dominated the EU referendum debate and this is reflected in the poll.

One in 10 respondents were worried that companies operating on both sides of the border may face difficulties. Again, this was a key concern for those from a professional and managerial background.

In border areas north and south, many people cross into the neighbouring country for work, and this has surfaced as a worry for some who think this employment mobility could be hampered.

But Lee Reynolds, Northern Ireland regional co-ordinator of the Vote Leave campaign, rejected claims made by some on the pro-EU side that travel could be restricted.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph he said: "On travel, we can retain the Common Travel Area as we have since 1923.

"Citizens from one EU country travelling freely to another non-EU country happens every day, for example between Norway and Sweden.

"On holidays, the EU has just agreed a no visa agreement for tourists from Peru but the In campaign tries to claim the same for us would be beyond the EU and UK. Seriously?"

Very few people - just 1% - felt that a Brexit would worsen relationships between citizens of both jurisdictions, or that it could affect the peace process, a claim made by some politicians in the UK and Ireland.

And hardly anyone believed that it would impact on cross-border security. Police chiefs and politicians have reassured the public that there is close and growing cooperation between the PSNI and Gardai, and between the British and Irish governments on security issues regarding, crime and the dissident republican threat.

The claims and counter-claims in the debate have left many people confused - 28% of people said they didn't know what the impact on north-south relations would be. Levels of uncertainty were highest in counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

Belfast Telegraph

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