Feature: Brexit could bring hardship to Ireland-Northern Ireland border businesses

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-15 13:51:45|Editor: Li Xia
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by Zhang Qi and Chen Jing

DUBLIN, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Ciaran Morgan, a 27-year-old man, runs a variety store in Ireland's northern town of Clones, which borders Northern Ireland. A hand-made countdown indicator was hung in his tiny yet neatly arranged store, showing 78 days away from Brexit.

Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain.

On a typical wet and cloudy afternoon, Morgan shared some of his thoughts and feelings about Brexit in his store, which sits on a roadside in downtown Clones.

"It is difficult to know what is going to come in the coming months with Brexit. We don't really know what is happening. It is hard to know if it is going to be a hard border or soft border," Ciaran sighed when talking about Britain's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) on March 29.

"For business, whether there will be extra tariffs or maybe no tariffs. It is just such an uncertainty. It is really not great for business along the border," he said.

Morgan added that nearly 50 percent of his clients came over from Northern Ireland within a few minutes' drive. If there is a hard border after Brexit, people will have to travel with passports and sit in traffic greeted by armed police or guards at border checks.

"I don't think they will come here. They will go to nearby towns in the UK rather than coming to Clones just to avoid the hard borders," he said. "It will be detrimental for the businesses along the border."

Morgan was also concerned about the possible tariffs to be levied on the goods he needs to import from Northern Ireland. If unreasonably high import duties are introduced after Brexit, he would have to look into other markets.

Actually, he had already started sourcing goods from Europe, and "we have even been dealing directly with China for the last two years," he said.

Morgan was born in England, where his parents emigrated to seek jobs during the 1980s. Morgan returned to Clones with his family when he was three-months old.

Confused and shocked, Morgan said that when Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, people on both sides of the border could not believe it.

"Nobody, still till this day, really understands why it left because you just see the total chaos caused in the UK since. But it was an overall vote of this. They left," he shrugged his shoulders helplessly.

Like Morgan, most people living Clones feel strongly against a hard border after Brexit. Posters carrying messages against Brexit and hard border can be occasionally seen on the roads of the border town.

The government has made a special effort to boost the economic development in Clones, whose current economic situation is below average.

The town was badly hit economically by the partition of Ireland in 1921 because of its location on the border with County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. The creation of the Irish border deprived it of access to a large part of economic hinterland for many years.