Belfast Telegraph

Border community ‘concerned’ as customs cars arrive amid Brexit row

Sinn Fein MEP for the area Matt Carthy said the approach would not be tolerated elsewhere and will not be tolerated by border communities.

Sinn Fein MEP for the area Matt Carthy said the approach would not be tolerated elsewhere and will not be tolerated by border communities (PA)
Sinn Fein MEP for the area Matt Carthy said the approach would not be tolerated elsewhere and will not be tolerated by border communities (PA)

By Aoife Moore

A border community has been left outraged after a number of customs cars were delivered to the area, hours after it emerged that British negotiators had suggested customs posts either side of the Irish border.

A lorry with a car carrier trailer holding seven customs cars with hi-visibility livery travelled through Co Louth on Tuesday morning, and parked at a yard in Coes Road East, Dundalk, just miles from the Northern Irish border.

Damien McGennity, co-ordinator of the group Border Communities Against Brexit, says residents have been left with no answers on how their lives will be affected after the UK leaves the EU.

“This is just the beginning, considering the news over the last day, and now this, the community is seriously concerned,” Mr McGennity said.

“This is another example of how the Irish Government are preparing for Brexit, and border communities need to be told now in clear and uncertain terms what the border will look like following a No Deal.

“It’s certain that the Irish government will be bound to follow EU rules pertaining to managing a border with a third country.

“An Taoiseach cannot allow communities to be left behind, our Good Friday Agreement and peace are under attack by Brexit.”

Initial reports on Monday night suggested that the British negotiators in Brexit discussions had proposed customs posts near the border in both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, a move that was swiftly criticised by the Irish Premier Leo Varadkar and his deputy Simon Coveney, before Prime Minister Boris Johnson distanced himself from the idea on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein MEP for the area Matt Carthy said the approach would not be tolerated elsewhere and will not be tolerated by border communities.

“To the community where I come from, having customs checks between Monaghan and Armagh is the equivalent of putting the same checks between Kerry and Cork,” he said.

“The Irish government should be using all resources to avoid any hardening of the border in our country.

“That they appear to be investing in numerous customs vehicles without consulting with the local communities is deeply worrying and will be unsettling to many.

“Now is the time for all Irish political voices to remain steadfast in support of the backstop and in our determination to avoid any disruption to cross-border activity.”

A Revenue spokesman said at the start of September, the overall Revenue Customs fleet had 229 vehicles and it is in the process of acquiring 16 new vehicles – some of which are replacements for older vehicles, while others are additional vehicles.

He said the Revenue Customs fleet will then have 242 vehicles that will be distributed at various locations nationwide based on operational requirements.

The spokesman did not confirm where the new vehicles will be located or whether they would be near the Border where the proposed customs posts could be located.

The Taoiseach’s office has been contacted for comment.

PA

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