Belfast Telegraph

Technology-based solution for border is nonsense: SF

By David Young/PA

The imposition of a customs frontier on the Irish border would "play fast and loose" with both the economy and peace process, Sinn Fein has warned.

The republican party dismissed any suggestion trade movement between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic could be monitored by technology as "nonsense and impossible to deliver".

The UK Government's vision of how its only land border with the EU will operate when it exits the Union will be outlined in a much-anticipated document tomorrow.

There are more than 200 roads crossing the Irish border. Critics of a technology-based solution, potentially involving CCTV cameras and number plate recognition systems, question how movement between the jurisdictions could ever be tracked without causing major disruption.

The Irish government has made clear its position that technology alone will not resolve the border conundrum.

David Cullinane TD, Sinn Fein's spokesman on Brexit, said: "It is clear that the British Tory party are in disarray over Brexit.

"They have no plan, no solutions for Brexit, only slogans."

He added: "The notion of a frictionless technological border has been dismissed as nonsense and impossible to deliver.

"What is clear is that Tories are prepared to use Ireland as collateral damage in their negotiations with the EU.

"What we need is a real solution that works for our economy, our communities, and delivers for all Ireland."

However, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson insisted only the main arterial routes needed to be monitored.

"If people want to export their goods they have to go through the proper process and clearly most of the cross-border roads aren't used for trade purposes, they are used on a daily basis by local people," he told the BBC.

"It is the main roads that are used for haulage and trading. So we are confident we can deal with this in a pragmatic way."

On Sunday, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood accused the UK Government of drawing up its border plan on the "back of an envelope".

"It is almost laughable that it took the British Government over a year to come up with it," he said. "Anyone who knows anything about the Irish border knows it's a non-runner."

He added: "Any border must be around the island of Ireland, not across it. This is the only position which recognises our unique circumstances and it is the only position which is actually enforceable.

"It is the only serious and credible solution to the Brexit problem which has so far been proposed."

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann has urged the Dublin government to kill off any suggestion that a customs border could be imposed in the Irish Sea. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already said the proposal is not one he is tabling as a potential alternative.

Mr Swann called on him to go further.

"If he has any respect for the people of Northern Ireland, Leo Varadkar must come out and dismiss the idea of a post-Brexit border in the Irish Sea once and for all," he said.

Interim plan to smooth changeover

A temporary customs union could be put in place to help prevent chaos at Britain’s borders after Brexit, the Government has said.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will ask Brussels for an “interim” period to allow a smooth switch over to the new trading regime that will be put in place once the UK leaves.

It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the UK would pull out of both the single market and the customs union in 2019.

Temporary arrangements could allow trade deals to be negotiated with other countries, something members of the bloc are forbidden from doing, while governments and businesses adjust to new arrangements.

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