Newry.ie

If you had taken the old Dublin Road out of Newry today you might have thought that Lislea Drama Festival had started a few weeks early deciding to go 'Al Fresco' with a rousing opening production of Pink Floyd's The Wall otherwise known as Brexit the Drama!

Set against the beautiful Cooley Mountains on the left and Slieve Gullion on the right the Border Communities against Brexit production stage set was second to none. Tall concrete barriers and bricks, a three storey lookout tower, a customs post and falling barrier all brought back 'fond memories' of the 1980's to this adjudicator who scored this drama top marks.

Of course a few well known 'actors' thrown into the mix made for a lively performance.

The Sledgehammer scene - Martina Anderson, MEP; Mary Lou McDonald, President, Sinn Féin and Michelle O'Neill, Leader of Sinn Féin in the north. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Sledgehammer scene - Martina Anderson, MEP; Mary Lou McDonald, President, Sinn Féin and Michelle O'Neill, Leader of Sinn Féin in the north. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Enter stage left, President of Sinn Féin in the role of Mary Lou McDonald, the head of the demolition team assigned to remove a trump-ish wall that had appeared in the centre of the Dublin Road just an hour earlier.

Michelle O'Neill and Martina Anderson playing themselves also gave winning performances.

The roles of Custom Officers and Army personnel were performed faultlessly and with gusto.The 'extras' who also helped demolish the wall performed admirably as did the young soldier in the lookout tower. The Angle Grinding team gave the performance of a lifetime although I'd say next time try not to look as if you are enjoying it so much.

The. Serious Message

A British Soldier. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
A British Soldier. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Of course the serious message of the day was that no-one present wanted to go back to the days where crossing the border was a hassle.

Declan Fearon from Border Communities Against Brexit said "We lived through those days, we remember what it was like and we are absolutely concerned that that's what we could go back to."

"We don't want our country divided again. We've had 20 years of not having that and never want to go back to it again."

Angle grinding on the Dublin Road.. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Angle grinding on the Dublin Road.. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Mary Lou McDonald the Sinn Féin President spoke out about comments made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Davos yesterday "I was struck by the fact that the Taoiseach regards it as irresponsible to talk about a border poll, a democratic provision within the Good Friday Agreement, but had no difficulty at all summoning up the image of British soldiers back on the streets and at border points.

A small section of the massive crowd for the Border Communities Against Brexit protest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
A small section of the massive crowd for the Border Communities Against Brexit protest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

"That's not going to happen and it's the job of the Taoiseach not to summon up fear, but to build confidence and to reassure communities that there will be under no circumstances hard borders, there will be under no circumstances any border apparatus, much less British soldiers again on our streets"

Any dramas that follow this one will really have to up their game.

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