Ex-general criticises border security approach

A former Defence Forces general has criticised the Government’s approach to security along the border in the light of Brexit, warning the operational knowledge of the border has been lost by organs of the State tasked with security.

FIle photo.

Retired Brigadier General Ger Aherne referred to ‘reckless’ comments by Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who had said there were no contingency plans being prepared for a hard border.

The retired officer said: “The debate and preparations have been suppressed by Government - contingencies aren’t light switches.

“If you don’t prepare contingencies for all possibilities, they can’t be called contingencies.”

Mr Aherne also claimed Government changes to the Defence Forces structure in recent years have left the State without the necessary flexibility to increase the security presence on the border if required.

He said such a move was at odds with previous policy, even at times when the State lacked finances.

The 50s and 60s were hungry times in Ireland and even in that time, in particular 1945 onwards until 1969, even in the Defence Forces the Government never collapsed the architecture.

“Ok, you may thinly populate them depending on threat and budget, but you never collapse them.

“Because they didn’t collapse the architecture from 45 to 69, that allowed the Defence Forces to exponentially expand because we just repopulated the architecture. But, in 2012, this government collapsed the architecture by a third,” he said.

“The complete border with Northern Ireland... is overseen from a military headquarters in Rathmines.

“How can you say you have a contingency for the border in Northern Ireland when it’s commanded from Rathmines?”

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