BREXIT concerns over new cross border ferry 'need addressed'

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By Michael McHugh, Press Association

The head of the newest transport link between Northern Ireland and the Republic has urged a speedy resolution to the Brexit border question.

A ferry has begun plying the scenic Carlingford Lough dividing the two countries with the 15-minute journey promising a boost for local tourism and business.

Bad weather rather than paperwork delayed the inaugural service but chief executive Pamela Houston said an unimpeded frontier should endure after the UK exits the EU.

She added: "We are a frictionless border, I think people are used to that. I think it is good for business."

Ms Houston said people were used to taking travel documents when they flew and added a duty free shop could create opportunities for her firm.

However she said: "We don't want to see any impediments to travel and hope that a resolution can be found."

The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the UK Government had to clarify how the common travel area would be maintained and also raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

British Brexit Secretary David Davis has said a "flexible and imaginative" approach is needed to the border.

Dozens of cars, local families and tourists from local caravans queued for the inaugural trip on the ferry from Greencastle in Co Down to Greenore in Co Louth.

One cyclist was among those in the queue waiting while the blustery winds whipped up the sea underneath leaden skies.

Des McConville, from the Armagh Down Cycling Club, waited to become the first cyclist onboard.

He said his club cycled regularly in the Cooley Mountains and the Mourne Mountains, on either side of the rugged border, and could now cover both in one day.

He added: "It is madness the whole Brexit issue, look at what we are doing here between a wee bit of water.

"It will be fascinating to see if there will be some form of check going across the border, I have no idea what will happen, but it will not stop the cyclists, we will do it."

Ensuring freedom of movement across the Irish border, the UK's only land frontier with the EU, is one of the first topics up for discussion between the UK and Europe and featured in this week's Brussels negotiations.

Many commute across for work each day and local businesses are opposed to lengthy queues for people and goods.

The ferry service which carries 44 cars will create 18 new full time jobs.

It follows a 10 million euro (£8.8 million) investment by Frazer Ferries Group, Limerick.

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