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This man is cycling around the Irish coast to try to stop a hard border in the North

William Hanbury-Tenison walked the full length of the border counties earlier in the year.

Image: William Hanbury-Tenison/Instagram

“THE REFERENDUM WENT through. That caused a great deal of concern for myself and my family… When something happens that affects your life in such a big way, you feel the need to do something.”

William Hanbury-Tenison lives with his family near the border with Northern Ireland in Co Monaghan. When the UK voted to the leave the EU, he felt that a hard border would be catastrophic for both North and South.

At the beginning of the year, Hanbury-Tenison walked the entire length of the border from Greenore in Louth to Muff in Donegal. Now, he’s cycling the entire Irish coastline to reinforce the need to prevent a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

He told TheJournal.ie: “When I finished the border walk in early March, there had been an increasing awareness of border issues in general but still nothing had been done.

It was a great experience. I met so many people from border towns. There is nobody, except for a very small number of people, that want the border to come back.

A hard border would raise issues in everything from trade to freedom of movement and would stoke sectarian tensions despite having already “largely moved away from that”, he said.

Having raised awareness through the walk, Hanbury-Tenison decided to double down with the decision to cycle around the Irish coastline.

“I was at home thinking of what I can do next,” he said. “I decided to get on my bike and cycle around the perimeter of Ireland.

It’s a metaphor that we’re all the same people, sharing the same space.

As well as that, his cycle is also being done in aid of the Fr Peter McVerry Trust. “I’ve not raised too much as of yet, but the idea was if I can raise some money for charity at the same time, I would,” he said.

Starting off in Monaghan, Hanbury-Tenison cycled to Carlingford and then up to Antrim, across Derry, Donegal and then proceeded southwards.

“It’s been truly an amazing experience,” he said. “What’s amazing about going anywhere on this island is how many hidden corners that there are way off the tourist trails.”

He got as far as Galway, where he has taken a brief hiatus before he gets back on the bike again.

“I’m well aware that cycling around the country, on its own, is not going to achieve very much,” he said. “But, ultimately, if everyone does their little bit, and makes their feelings clear then the politicians will feel that pressure and step up to their duties too.”

While Hanbury-Tenison would advocate a united Ireland as being the best solution to the issue of the border, North and South, there was little appetite from those in power to move in this direction as of yet.

For now, his concern lies with the border and the problems that a hard border may pose. His action is just a small attempt to raise awareness that anyone can take action and stand up on the issue, he said.

When asked if he had faith in the assurances from Theresa May and other Conservative politicians that no hard border would return to Northern Ireland following Brexit, Hanbury-Tenison was unequivocal:

Why would anybody have confidence in those guys?

Read: No mention of the Irish border in DUP’s Tory deal

Read: What’s a ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit, and which one are we likely to get?

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Sean Murray

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