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Residents believe harder border now more likely: study

Irish border (David Young/PA)
Irish border (David Young/PA)

By Staff Reporter

Almost three in four border residents surveyed in a new report think a hard border is more likely than it was a year ago, a new research report suggests.

The study found that the approach of Brexit is already having an effect on border communities, affecting mortgages, house prices and employment opportunities.

Almost half of respondents said they would not countenance technological solutions for border controls.

Those are just some of the findings of the survey carried out by Queen's University.

Uncertainty around the final shape of Brexit and what it might mean was also affecting business development.

However, the fall in sterling had a stimulating effect on the Northern Ireland side of the border because it made goods here more affordable for southern buyers.

Lead author Dr Katy Hayward said: "The Brexit negotiators' commitment to avoiding a hard border is not just about minimising the risk of renewed paramilitary violence.

"The voices heard in this study point to a different aspect of the same concern: the need to protect peace.

"This involves defining and securing what has come to be accepted as both 'normal' and 'ordinary'.

"The fact that it feels so 'normal' is both its strength and its susceptibility - we begin to take it for granted.

"The further away people are from the time and the place of the worst violence in this region, the easier it is for them to forget the devastation, the costs and the consequences of such violence," Dr Hayward warned.

The report was commissioned but the Irish Central Border Area Network and funded by the Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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