The New Carlingford to Newry Greenway isn’t even open yet but already the shadow of Brexit is showing it’s ugly presence.
Article 50 was only triggered a few hours on Wednesday when Senior European Union staff involved in the Brexit negotiations expressed their deep concerns about the potential of the cross border greenway being swamped by “smugglers and illegals”
It is commonly thought that when the UK do leave the EU in 2019 that prices will rise significantly in the province, especially in the farming industry when EU Subsidies cease, prompting the potential return to butter and milk smuggling, this time from the Republic. With manufacturing industries expected to take a hit as well, customs authorities on both sides are expecting a steady flow of new bicycles, prams, childrens toys and even wheelbarrows crossing the border via the greenway, posing as items that have already had their import tax paid. Spot checks will be carried out on a regular basis and items will be seized.
While it was assumed that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had no Brexit plan in situ until the very last minute, the same can’t be said of Newry, Mourne and Down Council who are already working on installing cattle grids along the pathway to discourage the “repositioning” of cattle and sheep from either jurisdiction.
Speaking at a meeting in the Canal Court Hotel yesterday 31 March, Rolf La’Pio, special advisor to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and widely thought of as one of the key Brexit negotiators said “The European Union are working with the UK government to ensure that the unique conditions that exist with the Irish frontier are taken into account when determining how frictionless the border can be. However while our main attention will be concentrated on securing major road crossings, the Carlingfjord to Newry pedestrian path cannot be perceived as open season for smugglers and illegals. Ultimately it may be necessary to carry out random Passport checks”
Mr La’Pio has suggested modern technology working along with existing infrastructure could go some way towards making the greenway secure. It’s thought that an electronic dairy scent detector already used by hospitals when dealing with people with dairy allergies, could be installed, alerting the PSNI and Garda to milk products on the moove.
It seems that voice recorders will also be positioned at strategic points listening for unusual accents although how this will work if people from Hilltown or Mayobridge pass through is as yet unknown.
The 19.7km Greenway will stretch from Carlingford to Newry leading on to Portadown and Lough Neagh and is expected to be complete within the next 12 to 15 months.