HOW the Border between Fermanagh and its neighbouring counties in the Republic of Ireland is controlled post-Brexit will be a “key part” of negotiations, says Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire. 
Mr. Brokenshire, who replaced Theresa Villiers following a Cabinet shake-up by new Prime Minister Theresa May, visited Enniskillen on Tuesday to discuss the result of the EU referendum with local business people. 
“It’s great to be here in Fermanagh to hear from some businesses directly on what’s on their mind concerning the UK’s departure from the EU,” he told The Impartial Reporter.
“Clearly in this area, very keenly, as I think across the whole of Northern Ireland, the whole issue of the Border is very, very relevant. As I have said and the prime minister has said: we don’t want to see a return of the Borders of the past because of those issues of people’s ability to move around, goods and services passing but also some of the broader political and identify issues that underpin all of this.”
Mr. Brokenshire explained that he has held discussions with the Irish government on the issue of the Border and highlighted the common travel area that has been in place “for many, many years.”
“I see this as one of the key factors in the negotiation and as we look to the common travel area, as we look now to the issues of the availability of better technology, I think we need to be smart about this. I think there is a strong will by the Irish government and the UK government to find an effective solution and that is a core part of the work that we will be doing in the months ahead,” he said. 
During his short visit to Enniskillen, Mr. Brokenshire met with Keith Gallagher of Balcas, local retailer Malcolm Sloan and farmer Barry Read, an agricultural contractor. He also held a meeting with Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott.
“It’s part of my role to listen to views from across Northern Ireland, recognising that there are different pressures within different parts of Northern Ireland and also different sectors as well. It was good to hear from the agricultural, manufacturing and retail sectors to understand how some of those issues apply here in Fermanagh. 
“I have had discussions with the first minister and deputy first minister and the prime minister has been clear that she wants a UK wide negotiation so we are listening very intently to all the different parts of the UK in our negotiation. I think it is about building the evidence to reflect that in the UK wide approach that we will take,” said Mr. Brokenshire.
Despite 28,200 people in Fermanagh-south Tyrone voting to remain within the European Union, the secretary of state, who himself voted and campaigned for remain, said: “We need to respect that overall view.”
“It was a UK wide vote and now as that decision has been taken ensure that we have a positive focus on how we harness the benefits of being outside of the European Union whilst equally building on that strong relationship that we have had with the 27 member of states and with a positive sense of what we can be, of what we will be, into the future.
“And it is about recognising that there are new opportunities; that we are not bound by regulation in the way we were for an EU standpoint, that we don’t have to view things from simply the context of an EU standpoint. However people voted, whatever their views are, that vote has been taken and it is important we now look to the future with that positive ambition as to how we make it that success for the future and the decades to come,” he said.
Speaking following his meeting with Mr. Brokenshire, Fermanagh-south Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said: “The secretary of state is certainly putting a huge effort into meeting a wide range of people of get their views on a number of issues, including Brexit and dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. Both of those issues were on my agenda with the Minister.  It was strongly emphasised that any hard Border would have a significant negative impact on businesses in Northern Ireland and particularly in towns like Enniskillen.”