SITUATED in Ireland’s northwest, Killea is a fairly typical border village. A short drive from Derry/L’Derry, it’s a commuter spot for Northern Ireland’s second city, causing a recent increase in population.
The village’s most distinguishable characteristic though, is that its streets and houses stretch across two separate sovereign states: the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.
The multi-jurisdictional reality of life in Killea has been a non-issue for locals since the late ‘90s when the border fully opened. Brexit, however, has created unease over what the future holds.
Michael Doherty is a timber merchant based in Killea. A small river which flows around his business marks where the border physically lies. He told The Detail about the practicality of running a company in such a location.
“We straddle the border, so we work north and south, covering Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Belfast, Dublin. Wherever we can get work, we take it,” he said.
“We also import an awful lot of timber from the north, from England and from the south of Ireland. We work throughout the country, both selling and buying.
“We don’t actually see a border, except on paper for VAT returns and things like that, but not for day to day work.
“Our lorries would cross the border five/ten times every day. Even to go to the shop we would cross the border.”
Mr Doherty is concerned that a more physical manifestation of the border will impact upon his drivers’ delivery speeds amongst other things.
“Our customer base, who are north and south as well, they will have to go through a border checkpoint to get in or out.
“A lot of people won’t want to do that. They’ll just find it’s easier to go somewhere else. I’m hugely concerned about that.
“I think that would be a typical view of people north and south in the border areas because it affects both sides.
“It also affects residents north and south for commuting day to day; children going to schools, buses, travel, it affects every facet of our lives in these areas, but business more so than anyone.
“It would just be a step backwards in time, for loads of reasons. I think it’s the last thing that people want to see.”