The city of Northern Ireland in the center of the strip Brexit fears changes in the frontier –

The city of Northern Ireland in the center of the strip Brexit fears changes in the frontier


The reason can be found just a few meters from the town. Here, the Irish border separates Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland. For almost a century, that boundary has shaped the history of the town and its people.

During the decades-long sectarian conflict known as The Troubles, a huge British army barracks loomed over the area. Customs officers patrolled the border crossings.

A 1998 peace agreement put an end to most of the bombings and kidnappings during a dark period of the country's history driven by a split between unionists who wanted to remain in the United Kingdom and those of the Roman Catholic minority who they favored an Ireland.

With that agreement, the barracks were demolished, replaced with an urbanization and crossed the border.

Now, local residents fear another change: a controlled limit.

  A sign the Irish border warns of a hard border after Brexit.

Hard edge [19659010] British Prime Minister Theresa May will travel to Brussels on Monday to meet with European leaders. This marks its deadline to resolve three key points that must be resolved before Britain leaves the European Union: the financial agreement of Great Britain, the rights of EU citizens and the Northern Ireland border.

Britain has said it will leave both the single market and the customs union when it leaves the bloc in March 2019, a move that critics say could lead to a so-called "hard frontier" with [19659003] checkpoints – something Ireland has indicated that it does not want.
In August, a UK government newspaper said it favored a border without physical barriers and travel for citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland without pbadport controls.
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The completion of the problem would allow Britain to continue talks about its future trade relations with the bloc. When border controls and blocks were removed 20 years ago, trade between North and South improved. Currently, an estimated $ 1.5 trillion in business flows back and forth between Ireland and the United Kingdom each week.

Westminster and Brussels feel very far from Middletown, but the consequences of discussions there could have a profound impact on residents.

Trevor Magill runs the post office in Middletown, and knows the importance of cross-border business.

"Sixty to 70% of my business comes from the south of the border," he tells CNN. "So, it's the freedom to be able to cross that border freely which impacts the level of business you can do."

One of the main employers in the region is the food company Linwoods Health Foods sells items such as hemp protein and flaxseed worldwide, as well as bread and milk on both sides of the Irish border.

The milk comes from dairy producers in Northern Ireland and the plastic packaging comes from a company in the Republic of Ireland. Linwoods trucks cross the border dozens of times a day.

John Woods is the director of the company and has worked in the family business for approximately 50 years. The restoration of a border with checkpoints would require the company to make major changes.

"We would simply have to abandon exports to the south in our dairy products and our bakery, and we would have to consider opening a healthy food factory in the south, too," he says.

  Farmer Francie Ward shows Nic Robertson of CNN the border along her path.

Invisible line

The boundary is an invisible and motionless 310-mile line that traverses the lush, rolling hillsides of the Irish countryside.

A few miles from Middletown that line takes a peculiar twist. At Ward's Cross, cars drive on one side of the road in the Republic of Ireland, while cars on the other travel in Northern Ireland.

The crossroads is named after the Ward family. A member of that clan, farmer Francie Ward says that the renewed checkpoints could bring a series of new problems.

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"I have lands on both sides," he tells CNN. "I do not know what will happen with Brexit."

Hundreds of small roads like Ward's Cross across the border. During the decades of sectarian conflict, many of these routes were blocked, and some were destroyed by the British army.

Some Northern Irish lawmakers warn that a hard border could lead to a return of trouble.

May will meet Monday with European leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk. Tusk, the president of the European Council, has insisted that the border issue in Ireland be resolved before the Brexit trade negotiations move forward.
  Traffic crosses the border into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland next to a sign protesting against a hard brexit near Dundalk on January 30, 2017.

[19659005] Ireland says it is not trying to delay the Brexit process, but wants a detailed plan on how the border would work.

Irish Chancellor Simon Coveney said on Sunday he was not sure if an agreement on the Northern Ireland border could be managed before Monday's deadline, but said he hoped the May meetings in Brussels could lead to an agreement.

Woods of Linwoods is more concerned about the long-term economic impact.

"Our success in the peace process was not only the good work done by the peacemakers, but also the increase in employment, and lower unemployment attracts people who might otherwise go outside the system."

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