European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed there will be border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland if there is a no deal Brexit.
Mr Juncker issued the warning during a Sunday morning interview with Sky News' Sophy Ridge programme, accusing British MPs of "forgetting" Ireland's history while saying the EU must protect its borders.
In recent weeks Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated there will be checks on goods "near" the border, while Tánaiste Simon Coveney told reporters at Government Buildings last week these checks could take place further away.
However, asked by Ms Ridge on Sunday morning if there will be border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland if there is a no deal Brexit, Mr Juncker said "yes".
"Yes. We have to make sure that the interests of the European Union and of the internal market will be preserved.
"An animal entering Northern Ireland without border control can enter without any kind of control the European Union via the southern part of the Irish island.
"This will not happen. We have to preserve the health and the safety of our citizens," Mr Juncker said.
Asked again about whether a hard border would return, Mr Juncker said "yes", adding:
"I myself am not an architect of new border stations. The British have to tell us exactly the architectural nature of this border.
"I don't like it, a hard border. Because after the Good Friday Agreement - and this [agreement] has to be respected in all its parts.
The situation in Ireland has improved; we should not play with this.
"Sometimes I have the impression that some people are forgetting about the history. But history will be back immediately."
When asked if the Prime Minister of Luxembourg's decision to hold a press conference next to an empty podium where Boris Johnson was supposed to be was helpful, Jean-Claude Juncker said "I rather consider that this was not very helpful" #Ridge pic.twitter.com/5ioTwORlNq— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) September 22, 2019
Mr Juncker said he does not favour a hard border, and that the work of politicians between now and October 31 must be focussed on preventing such an outcome, saying:
"We have to make sure that there will be no hard and physical border between the two parts of the Irish island and things have to be done on a level playing field.
"If these three objectives are met by the alternative arrangements, then we don't need the backstop.
"The backstop was never an instrument having been put in place for whatever will happen. No, it was put in place in order to preserve the rights of the internal market and of the island of Ireland."