Ireland ‘ready and willing’ to police UK’s shared border with rest of EU
By Bernard Purcell
Ireland has confirmed it is in talks to use its airports and ports to police the UK’s Border with the EU, post-Brexit.
The plan was revealed by Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire earlier this week and later confirmed by Irish ministers. Ireland’s Justice Minister and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald (pictured) said there was “not anything surprising” in Mr. Brokenshire’s remarks and that Ireland was “agreeable” to it.
“The whole question of security in the ports as well as our interests is going to be an area where there is more focus on in relation to the risks of terrorism and security cooperation,” she said. “I envisage the security co-operation continuing and developing if anything over the next number of years. There is not anything surprising in what he has said.”
“Our particular issue, and that of the UK, is working with other member states (in the EU) to ensure they understand precisely the common travel area. There is a huge job to be done in respect of that.
“We don’t want a hard border North and south. There is going to be more focus on the perimeter. We have said this all along. We are now the border effectively for the EU,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
Sharing of travel
Much of this – the sharing of travel data and identities – would have happened even without Brexit, she said. Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Brokenshire told The Guardian this week there is a “high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work” between Dublin and London to control immigration into the UK.
“Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the Common Travel Area building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners,” he said. “We have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration working closely with the Irish government,” he said.
Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he had also been in talks with the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer about avoiding a return to a ‘hard’ Border.
“Obviously, if the United Kingdom’s not in the European Union, the only land border they will have with Europe is across Ireland, about 40km from Dublin Airport. So, it is an issue, but I think it’ll be resolved,” he said. “The Brexit process is going to take maybe four years, maybe more, but we have interests, and we have commenced discussing them with the UK authorities.
“Both sides are pledged to finding a solution that’s effective, while at the same time that doesn’t disrupt the Common Travel Area between ourselves and the UK, or indeed the Common Labour Market between both countries.
“So, if you do not have a border, going from Newry going across, dividing Sligo and Donegal from the northern counties, the next step is to have your controls at the ports. “So that would mean Rosslare, and Larne, and the airport’s, but that wouldn’t be much more than the normal checks we have at airports already, where you show your passport.”
Sinn Fein MEP for Ireland’s Midlands-NorthWest constituency, Matt Carty, who lives in Carrickmacross was swift to criticise the Irish government for what he said was bending to Britain’s will. He said: “The Irish government and its representatives have been deferential to the British government from time to time. What we are saying is that this is not an occasion for this. We need to be pointing out the needs of this island and making demands for the Irish people.
“It is not their job to be pushing for the wishes of the British government.”
“Brexit has presented a huge amount of challenges for the Irish government in terms of the trading relationship with Britain both to the UK and between Northern Ireland and Ireland. To add on the task of immigration controls, I think is ridiculous.
“This island will suffer more than anyone else… because of Brexit in terms of the economy, the social issues and the political issues.”
Some 34,000 people cross the Border every day for work, shopping or travelling to college. The 17 per cent fall in the value of sterling since the 23 June referendum has hit many small businesses who export to the UK and seen a return of shoppers from south of the Border to Northern Ireland to make the most of the lower prices for petrol, clothing, footwear, groceries, household items and even second-hand cars.
Meanwhile the Irish government says it does not realistically anticipate EU migrants coming into Ireland to sneak into the UK and certainly not into Northern Ireland.