Dundalk Chamber will hold our annual cross border tourism conference on Wednesday the 6th online. There is no fee for attendance. The conference will focus on the opportunities that the region offers and listen to best practices from other areas.
However, there is a great concern that Brexit related issues will seriously curtail the potential of this area, both North and South.
The Nationality and Borders Bill will shortly become law requiring any non-Irish or UK citizen to apply for a visa should they wish to travel North. This means that an EU citizen, e.g., French on holiday in the South will not be able to travel to the Mournes unless they complete a visa. This reduces the number of attractions available to a tourist visiting the island unless they apply and obtain a visa,
It also means that a sailing boat cannot travel from Carlingford/Greenore to Warrenpoint if there is a Dutch person on board unless a paper application form is posted and delivered before departure. There is no facility to complete an online application in this case.
We have been told that there will be no checks or scrutiny on the Border. Therefore, this is a piece of legislation which will not be enforced! This will not be understood by a German thinking of visiting Dublin and Belfast. If it is not going to be enforced, then do not pass the legislation. Laws should be introduced only with the expectancy that they will be enforced.
At this stage, the UK Government has said no to the obvious solution of a derogation for the island on the visa requirements, giving a win win for both parts of the island.
Will the British ever consider any part of Ireland when they legislate? We all know Brexit was a bad idea, but Brexit consistently creates barriers and dismantles all the good work on Strand 2 of the relationships on these islands, that between North and South. The Protocol is working on the ground, as businesses North and South will testify but that fact is being ignored.
There are also emerging problems, which the Chamber raised 5 years ago, on the taxation of people working and living in the different jurisdictions. The Belfast Agreement did address this in part, but Brexit has complicated the matter.