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Irish ports and airports could play key role in avoiding 'hard border'

By Staff Reporter

Published 10/10/2016

A protest against Brexit was held on the Buncrana Road near the Londonderry-Donegal border
A protest against Brexit was held on the Buncrana Road near the Londonderry-Donegal border

The UK plans to use entry points to the Republic as its front line in combating post-Brexit illegal immigration - and not border security checkpoints, according to a report.

After it leaves the European Union, Britain wants to avoid having to reintroduce a 'hard border' between north and south.

Instead, London wants to beef up controls at the Republic's ports and airports in order to avoid the return of security checkpoints at the border with Northern Ireland, The Guardian reported.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said London will work with Dublin to strengthen the Republic's external borders to combat illegal migration into the UK.

He said there was now a "high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work" between the two states to control immigration.

"We have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration, working closely with the Irish government. Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the common travel area (CTA), building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners," he said.

The CTA is a special arrangement which allows full freedom of movement of people from Ireland and Britain on both islands.

After the UK's vote last June to leave the EU, concern mounted that to control immigration, measures would have to be imposed on the 300-mile border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Shifting the onus of immigration control to Irish entry points like Rosslare harbour and Dublin airport would avoid this.

"We are already working closely with the Irish government and other members of the common travel area to prevent people from seeking to evade UK immigration controls from entering via another part of the CTA," Mr Brokenshire told The Guardian.

"There is a high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work. This includes investment in border procedures; increased data sharing to inform immigration and border security decisions; passenger data systems enabling the collection and processing of advance passenger information; and harmonised visa processes," he added.

The Republic's foreign minister, Charlie Flanagan, welcomed Mr Brokenshire's commitment to an invisible north-south border.

He said: "These are means by which we can ensure that any adverse impact is minimised. The object of our engagement is to maintain the common travel area."

The news came after six demonstrations were held along the border on Saturday. Campaign group Border Communities said it was opposed to any strengthening of border controls.

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