The travel time for a Donegal student travelling to Dublin for college could almost double if a hard border is put in place, according to a local Donegal councillor.
Cllr Jack Murray of Sinn Fein, who represents the electorate area of Inishowen, took part in a protest against the prospect of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland due to Brexit on Saturday morning in Derry.
The protest included a fake re-enactment of an old customs patrol team waving through lines of traffic in order to highlight the problems a hard border would create for his county, which is almost entirely bordered with the North.
If a hard border goes into effect, it is expected that people going across the country lines to get to places in the south such as Dublin and people may have to declare items over a certain value.
Cllr Murray feels that could deter Donegal residents from crossing border patrols.
He said, “People might have to think about going the long way around to Dublin again, which involves going down to Sligo and bypassing the North, which would be a disaster.”
According to the councillor, this could almost double the travel time to Dublin, and this hassle, along with troubled access to areas in the north, have provoked protests along the boundary.
He said, “People are in a position where they can’t really make big decisions at the minute because there is so much uncertainty and that’s really what people were highlighting today.
“With the potential consequences of Brexit and the potential consequences of a hard border, they were trying to put pressure on those decision makers to make sure that can’t happen.“
On a good day, third year DCU Engineering student Seamus Doherty says it takes him over three hours to get from his home just outside Letterkenny to Dublin by car and sometimes more than four by bus.
Although Doherty feels that a hard border is unlikely and unfeasible between the Republic and the North, he said he knows it isn’t entirely off the table and if it comes to shape, students like himself could suffer the consequences.
He said, “I stay up some weekends because of the painful journey time from door to door for me. I mightn’t get home until late on a Friday and only have until midday on a Sunday before I have to return to Dublin for college. It sometimes isn’t worth it.
“I am going into my final year next year and if they actually go ahead with this border, I’ll seriously consider moving to Dublin for full semesters at a time and only returning home at Christmas because it would be such hardship getting back to Donegal.”