Northern Ireland

Brexit protest halts traffic at Irish border

Irish border Brexit protest Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The protest featured a mock customs hut and pretend border officers

Campaigners have held up traffic on a road between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as part of a protest against possible border checks post-Brexit.

A convoy of protesters staged a demonstration at the border between County Louth and County Armagh.

Brexit opponents have said border checkpoints would affect free movement.

Theresa May has said she wants to maintain a "seamless, frictionless border" after Brexit.

However, the Irish government has said it has begun contingency work to identify places where customs checkpoints could be set up.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption A trailer-load of sheep and mocked-up travel documents were part of Saturday's protest

Last Sunday, former taoiseach (Irish prime minster) Bertie Ahern said that "any kind of physical border" would be "bad for the peace process".

During the Troubles, there were only 20 places to cross the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The success of the peace process led to huge numbers of roads being reopened and there are now 260 crossing points.

Both Irish and British governments have repeatedly said they do not want a return to the "borders of the past".

However, it was the past that protesters highlighted on Saturday with a World War Two-era bicycle and mock customs hut among the props underlining their post-Brexit border concerns.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Both Irish and UK governments have said they want to maintain "seamless" movement across the border

Costumed border officers wearing traditional greatcoats waved down traffic with the aid of vintage signs that read "Stop: Customs".

Truck drivers in the traffic queue pretended to pull their hair out and waved supposed travel documents, while people gathered with placards.

Protest organiser Declan Fearon said protesters "never want to see this community going back to what it was before".

"The people here do not want to contemplate the reinstatement of spikes and roads being closed and of customs checkpoints and it looks like that is where we are going."

He said the prime minister and UK government did "not seem to have any of our interest here along the border at heart and we want to make sure our voices are heard as far and wide as possible".

Last week, a UK Government spokesperson said that both the UK and Irish governments "have made it clear that we want these seamless movements between our nations to continue".

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