The amendment to The Schengen Agreement agreed in Brussels last month may have made waves in Calais and Dover and the other channel ports but for Irish Curling there has been an unseen and surprising benefit.
The extension of country borders into the port of departure will mean that once the Schengen Appendix 1 Charter comes into effect in a few months the area extending three miles in-shore from Loch Ryan near Stranraer will in effect become part of Ireland, or at least it will for citizenship purposes. Irish Curling Secretary Bill Gray takes up the story: “It is a strange bit of bureaucracy which will not have much effect on most folk however in curling terms anyone born in or residing within three miles of the shoreline around Stranraer could become eligible for team Ireland”. Appendix 1 only applies to the Ports of France, UK and Ireland and to their closest destinations. There had been concern that with the main ferry terminal now in Cairnryan rather than Stranraer this would take most good curlers out of the zone but the UK government minister responsible for Homeland security, Theresa May MP, confirmed the Irish zone extended for three miles inshore from the whole of the Loch Ryan Port area. Bill Gray continued: “For the three mile rule to incorporate an area of such curling tradition and indeed talent is something we could not have dreamed off”.
Bizarrely The Irish Curling Association were made aware of this law change by the Republic of Ireland Taoiseach himself. Enda Kenny is the cousin of Irish Curling’s Development co-ordinator Johnjo Kenny. Johnjo explains: “I was surprised to get the call from Enda especially given his current political woes but he has taken a keen interest in curling over the years and he is very aware of the curling heritage in Stranraer having himself visited the rink at North West Castle in 2013. While the port of arrival will be Belfast this makes no difference in terms of the Citizenship eligibily”.
Irish curling president Louise Kerr is “over the moon” with the news. “I live locally” says Louise, “although not quite in the catchment zone, however, there are literally dozens of international curlers who will very soon be eligible to curl for Ireland. The prospect of Hammy McMillan, Hugh Aitken etc wearing the green and white of Ireland is something none of us thought we would see”.
We contacted April Fecher TD (The Irish immigration minister) for a comment however she was not available.