10 Aug 2022

Brexit: Research paper reveals majority of border crossings go through Derry

Bridgend Border Crossing

A recent research paper from the Department for the Economy (DfE) has shown that the majority of the crossings to the Republic come through Derry to Donegal.

The statistics have gained heightened meaning in recent days after motorists travelling in either direction across the border were advised to purchase a ‘Green Card’ from their insurance company if there is a no deal Brexit.

The research paper published by DfE last September charted the movement of people across the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border. It is based on analysis of mobile phone data over a four-week period in October, 2017.

The document estimates there are between 100 and 110 million border crossings each year. And, over 80 per cent of those cross border trips start or end in northern Local Government Districts close to the border.

Weekday figures for cross border travel from Northern Ireland to the Republic showed that the highest number (36%) of crossings began in Derry’s Local Government District and overall, 40 per cent of crossings by residents of the whole of Northern Ireland went through Derry crossing zones. This accounted for almost 35,000 crossings every day.

The analysis also showed that 86 per cent of crossings made by residents of Northern Ireland in cars and light goods vehicles ended in destinations next to the border with North Donegal being the most popular destination for those crossing from the north.

Conversely, the most popular destinations from residents from the Republic were Derry, Strabane, Fermanagh, and Newry and Mourne. That accounted for 75 per cent of all such crossings.

The purposes for cross border journeys were also classified in the research.

For example, people living in Derry and travelling from their home address to work in Donegal accounted for an average weekday total of 17,800 crossings.

Another example given was a person travelling from Limavady to visit friends in Donegal after shopping in Derry city centre. This accounted for 17,900 border crossings on an average weekday.

Despite the current questions and concerns being thrown up the prospect of a no deal Brexit and suggestions that cross border arrangements laid out in the Good Friday Agreeement could be diluted, the DfE document reveals that common travel arrangements were laid out almost 70 years ago, before the Republic joined the then EEC.

These arrangements were obviously interrupted by the impact of the Troubles in border areas.

The document says: “The Common Travel Area came into being in 1952. It is a collection of legal provisions which enable UK and Irish nationals to be treated almost identically within both states.

“This means that people can travel freely between one country and the other for work, education, shopping or other purposes in the pursuit of their daily lives.”

The DfE paper also states: “Proximity to the border matters and the people who live closest to the border make seven times more crossings than those who live further from the border. People are more likely to cross the border for social and leisure purposes than work, with almost two-thirds of trips made for social and leisure purposes.”

And, survey data based on Northern Ireland council districts close to the border showed that 80 per cent of cross border trips were accounted for by people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid Ulster, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon and Newry and Mourne.

Meanwhile, drivers crossing the border in either direction have been advised to get a ‘Green Card’ proving they are insured in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has issued guidance advising motorists to contact their insurance company to arrange a ‘permit,’ otherwise they may be breaking the law. The ABI has said that insurance firms may charge a “small administrative charge” to provide the ‘Green Card.’

Whilst an agreement was made between European insurance firms last year that the border crossing permits would not be required this has as yet, not been confirmed by the European Commission.

Therefore, insurers are planning on the basis that permits will be required.

The ABI advice document published on its website says: “Green Cards would be required under EU regulations as proof of insurance if there was no-deal. The documents are supplied by your insurer and customers are advised to contact their insurer about a month before they travel to get one.

“The same requirements will apply to EU motorists travelling to the UK.”

Another section of the ABI document says that if travellers do not apply for a card the only other lawful choice will be to purchase insurance once the border has been crossed.

Director General of the ABI  Huw Edwards said: “As it looks increasingly possible that a ‘no deal’ Brexit may happen, we want all insurance customers to know the facts about what this means for them.

“If you live in Northern Ireland and drive to the Republic of Ireland, or if you plan to drive your vehicle to mainland Europe after a no-deal Brexit, you will need a Green Card to prove you are insured. You should contact your insurer before you travel in order to get one. This advice applies to businesses as well as individuals.”

CAPTION: Drivers travelling from Derry to Donegal and vice versa, through areas like Bridgend may have to buy a permit to prove they are insured.

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