Aerial photo taken on Jan. 10, 2019 shows the premises on which local businessman Eamon Fitzpatrick running a fuel station and a hardware store, which are separated by the Ireland-UK border, in Drummully Polyp of Clones, Ireland. (Xinhua)
by Zhang Qi and Chen Jing
DUBLIN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Running a fuel station and a hardware store in Drummully Polyp, a small village located along the border between Ireland and Britain, Eamon Fitzpatrick is not sure how long he can keep his business going, since it has been buoyed by the free flow of people from both sides.
Facing each other, Fitzpatrick's fuel station and hardware store sit fewer than 10 meters apart on a vast grassland, with a borderline between Ireland and Northern Ireland running across.
"The Irish customers need to enter Britain before getting into my hardware store, while the British customers need to cross the border once they stop for gas," said Fitzpatrick, looking down at an earthen seam in the cement floor, which is the line he crosses countless times a day and roughly where the border between Ireland and Britain begins.
"Like Trump wanting to build a wall along the Mexican border, if they build here a wall, a fence or a check after Brexit, how can we legally cross the borderline hundreds of times a day like we do now?" he joked.
Fitzpatrick, in his 50s, was originally from Ireland's northern town of Clones, which is a few kilometers away and also borders Northern Ireland. He started the business in Drummully Polyp about 20 years ago.
"All was going well till the word Brexit appeared," he said, expressing his worries that if Brexit leads to a hard border, both his business and life would be badly impacted.
Drummully Polyp, a 10-square-meter village, is almost surrounded by the border. It is connected to the rest of the Republic of Ireland by a narrow strip of water, where there is no road or pedestrian access. Access is available only by traveling through County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain.
At present, Ireland and Britain, both members of the EU, share a soft border where people and goods can move freely. As the deadline for Brexit draws near, the thorny border issue remains unresolved. Maintain status quo or build a hard border? Residents of the border area are anxiously waiting for an answer.
There are not many residents living in this area who need to come and go across the border every day. The emergence of a hard border means Drummully Polyp could become a non-resident island.
Apart from the concerns about the foreseeable inconvenience a hard border could create after Brexit, Fitzpatrick is more concerned about the future movement of the British pound sterling against the euro, as many of his fuel station clients from Northern Ireland pay him in pounds.
The exchange rate of the pound sterling against the euro has witnessed a considerable drop since Britain voted to leave the EU. Fitzpatrick wonders where the pound sterling is moving down the line after Brexit.
"I have attended meetings and asked different people for predictions, but no one can give me an answer. No one knows what will happen after Brexit," he said.
Like Fitzpatrick, most people living in the area feel strongly against a hard border after Brexit. Anti-Brexit and anti-hard border posters can be occasionally seen on the roads in the border village.