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‘Derry Girls’ with a difference: the women’s group who say they’re fed up being sidelined over Brexit

By Suzanne Breen

A group of Londonderry women are launching a new campaign 'Derry Girls Against Borders' to lobby those in power in London, Brussels, Dublin and Belfast about their Brexit fears.

Organiser Tanya McCamphill said the women from different walks of life were deeply worried about the negative impact "any potential border on the island of Ireland or down the Irish Sea" would have on their lives.

Ms McCamphill said: "We are now only two months away from the October EU summit and as Derry women we are frightened that the real challenges for people living in this part of the world have not been considered in any meaningful way.

"We are fed up being treated like an experiment. Our aim is to mobilise people in Derry and beyond to make our voices heard to support and protect the status quo.

"We want the governments to understand the real issues people here will face if there are any borders. We want those in power in Belfast, Dublin, London and Brussels to listen to us and not just talk about us."

The group is launching a petition and digital campaign in Derry's City Hotel on Monday night. It is calling on people to share their stories and fears online.

Ms McCamphill added: "These stories have not been heard during all the Brexit noise.

"Many of those making key decisions won't have considered the human impact of change to our way of life - whether it's going to a Derry match in the South, getting a pink and white (ice-cream) in Buncrana on a Sunday night, or even taking the dog for a walk on the beach."

Ms McCamphill continued: "We want to explain and we want people to listen to us. For so long there hasn't been any border. We do not want to lose that freedom.

"Many other women will tell their stories. Recalling border checks of the past, being separated from family, and difficulties for business accessing suppliers.

"We are not prepared to be silenced or sidelined anymore. Derry Girls, to borrow a phrase, are taking back control."

Local teacher Maeve Connelly recalled crossing the border into Donegal as a girl with a backdrop of barbed wire, watch towers and heavily armed soldiers.

The dismantling of the physical border infrastructure with the Good Friday Agreement was "like having steel clamps removed from our hearts", she said.

"To see our roads clear and uninterrupted felt wonderful. We were able to enjoy a healthy relationship with our neighbours in Donegal once again.

"To think that now I am having to explain to my daughters that some of what we thought we had left behind could return is just horrifying. This is about a way of life.

"We cannot go back to any form of hard border."

Eimear Hegarty (23), a trainee actuary in Dublin, said: "Separation, stress, division, a step backwards, violence and hassle: these are all words that come to mind when I think of what a Brexit border would mean for me.

"I regularly travel home to see my family in Derry. After a long week of work and studying, the last thing I want to experience is further delays."

Belfast Telegraph

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