Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ireland to send police to the border as migrant row with UK grows

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Mr Harris was then forced to insist that “of course” there would be no police checkpoints and suggested that Mr Sunak was politicking ahead of the local elections.

He did not rule out sending officers to the border but the department of justice insisted that they would not be “assigned to physically police the border with Northern Ireland”.

“I’m not getting involved in British politics and I’m very well aware there are local elections due in the UK tomorrow, and I’ve no interest as taoiseach of this country of being involved in day-to-day back and forth in the House of Commons,” Mr Harris said.

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland Secretary, called a meeting on Wednesday night with Micheál Martin, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, to seek assurances that officers would not be physically policing the border.

Sources said Mr Heaton-Harris wanted to ensure nothing was done to jeopardise the smooth running of the Common Travel Area, even if the officers were not on the physical border but near it.

No 10 ‘cannot countenance burden-sharing’

A Downing Street source said Mr Heaton-Harris had called for the meeting to “make clear our position and to confirm that won’t be changing. Britain won’t be taking failed asylum seekers back from Ireland and unlike Labour, we would never countenance a wider ‘burden sharing’ agreement with the EU which would mean taking even more”.

Infrastructure and checks have been gradually removed from the Irish land border in the 26 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

Despite the current plans to send police officers to the border, Dublin insisted during Brexit negotiations that the border had to remain open.

When, in 2019, Britain planned to suggest setting up customs clearance centres 5-10 miles back from the border on both sides, it was dismissed as a non-starter by Simon Coveney, the then Irish foreign minister.

A UK land border with the EU was created by Brexit. To prevent the need for border checks on the Irish land border, and to protect the peace process, the UK and EU agreed to create the Irish Sea border between Britain and Northern Ireland.

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