Belfast Telegraph

Leo Varadkar rejects reports of preparations for border checks

Ireland’s premier said they were not contemplating customs posts on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s premier has rejected any suggestion that preparations were being made for border checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Reports emerged this week that the Revenue Commissioners were formulating plans with Government officials for full customs checks amid fears the EU and the UK will fail to reach an agreement.

Leo Varadkar was speaking at the end of a parliamentary party meeting in Co Galway, on the same day as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Theresa May’s Brexit plans were not acceptable to Brussels.

The direction we’ve given to Revenue is not to prepare for customs posts on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland Leo Varadkar

“The direction we’ve given to Revenue is not to prepare for customs posts on the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland because that’s something we’re not contemplating,” Mr Varadkar said.

He added: “If the Revenue Commissioners are in any way trying to put in any physical infrastructure then that is news to me and I really don’t believe that’s happening.”

The Taoiseach said it was important to make a distinction between the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and the ports, where the Government could not “countenance” a hard border being introduced, and airports, where custom controls may be needed if a pre-trade agreement was not reached with the UK.

Mr Varadkar said there would be an intensification in the next phase of the Brexit talks in the coming weeks and he hoped a deal would be made by the October deadline or by November at the latest.

When it came to the common travel area, Mr Varadkar said he had no concerns.

“I am confident that no matter what happens, the common travel area will remain in place because both UK and Ireland want that for each other’s citizens,” he said.

“It benefits citizens in both countries and the European Union has taken the view that we can continue that.”

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