The coming into being of the customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the Free State is the chief event of public importance this week. It came into force on Saturday last at midnight, but its working will not be in perfect order for a few weeks yet.

There are four customs barriers in Fermanagh at Belleek, Belcoo, Newtownbutler and outside Swanlinbar on the Fermanagh side. Opposite these are similar barriers on the Free State side.

The officers who have arrived in Fermanagh and are putting the new order of things into force, are customs officials who have had similar experience upon the Rhine, and they have been brought over particularly with this object in view.

When they get the system into good working order they will hand over their duties to new men, who will be permanently posted within the county. On Monday the first searchings of people crossing the border took place. The search was a most cursory one in the trains as they arrived at Newtownbutler and other border stations.

The officials prefer to go easily at first and when the people become educated to the restrictions, they will put on the screw and become stricter, and the enforcement of the regulations will be most severe.

There is no restriction on farm produce crossing the border. But the question arises how will it affect this traffic? A farmer in Newtownbutler may want to bring his hay into Clones, and if he is suspect the cart may be wheeled up on the roadside for the purpose of a search. Having got his hay into Clones can he do his shopping there?

Clones has only been beginning to recover from the effects of certain events that happened last year. Its trade was reviving slowly, and what had been heretofore one of the best markets and biggest fairs in the North of Ireland, was practically ruined for nine months of last year.

Its business was increasing, people were entering it more freely, and customers who had left it were dribbling back. The Clones traders say that though things had been very bad, that the new customs barrier is the ‘last straw’.