Belfast Telegraph

Unionist supports opening the border for police pursuits

By Victoria O'Hara

A corridor along the border used by both the PSNI and Garda during so-called hot pursuit car chases should be created to catch fleeing criminals, an Ulster Unionist MLA has said.

Ross Hussey said a joint project between the two police forces to clamp down on the ‘rat-run’ areas used by suspects trying to escape particular jurisdictions should be developed.

The West Tyrone MLA said the move would be beneficial in such cross-border operations.

“We have situations along the border and in the Republic that police stations are in effect being removed and taken back into larger towns,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“If gardai were in pursuit of someone who was leaving Emyvale and heading towards Aughnacloy it could be the case there were no police there,” he said.

“So, if the Garda were to pursue that chase into the north until the PSNI can join them, it makes sense they can interact.

“I think it would be reasonable that a corridor could be created.”

Mr Hussey said he would also be “very much in favour” of an agreement between UK Governments and the Republic for criminals to be extradited through a “quicker and easier” process.

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “The PSNI is committed to developing and enhancing their existing relationship with An Garda Siochana and continue to work in partnership to tackle crime.” Mr Hussey originally spoke about the issue during RTE's Prime Time programme.

It focused on the problem of on-the-run criminals in the Republic.

It is believed some have crossed into Northern Ireland before fleeing to other countries.

In March Martin McDermott, from Raphoe in Co Donegal, was arrested in Londonderry.

The 26-year-old had absconded from an open prison in Co Cavan where he was serving a seven-year sentence for the manslaughter of Garda officer Gary McLoughlin. A cross-border manhunt was launched after he escaped. McDermott, had over 90 previous convictions, including a number of driving offences.

The RTE programme revealed that 660 prisoners are unlawfully at large from jails in the Republic over the last 20 years.

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