Revenue on course for 200 extra customs staff by Brexit deadline

Revenue is on course to have 200 additional customs staff in place by the Brexit deadline of March 29 – and is considering the recruitment of further people in the event of a no-deal.

Revenue said its priority has to date been on IT solutions and said it was “confident” it would be able to deal with the additional workload arising from Brexit.

Revenue has made no reference to any possibility of physical customs infrastructure or staff on main border crossings.

Some garda sources have expressed concern regarding any such physical customs presence along the border, fearing it could be a target of dissident republicans.

The capabilities of dissidents were seen with the detonation of a car bomb in Derry last Saturday, which has been blamed on the New IRA.

In response to a series of questions from the Irish Examiner, Revenue said it was part of the inter-departmental Brexit group coordinated by the Department of An Taoiseach and Department of Foreign Affairs.

On recruitment, Revenue said in a statement that it had previously determined it would require an additional 600 staff; 270 of them during 2019.

“The Revenue’s plans are well advanced to have a total of 200 additional staff, across a number of functions, trained and in place by March 29, 2019,” said the statement.

The 600 extra staff would be in place by the end of the transition period (December 2020) under last November's Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and UK – but that agreement was overwhelmingly rejected in Westminster a week ago.

This means that unless a new agreement is somehow reached or the deadline is extended, Britain is due for a no-deal exit on March 29.

The statement said: “In addition, Revenue is considering the various measures that may need to be deployed should additional staff be required in a no-deal scenario.

“Such measures would include an acceleration of interdepartmental and open recruitment, and the redeployment of existing staff.”

It said Revenue's focus has been on minimising cost and facilitating trade by providing businesses with advice on preparing to trade with a non-EU country.

“In this regard, Revenue’s priority to date has been on upgrading relevant IT systems to have the most advanced systems possible to support and facilitate smooth and efficient trade flows,” the statement said.

It said the capacity of these systems has been significantly increased in order to deal with the expected increase in the number of transactions post-Brexit.

“We are confident that the various IT systems will support the expected additional workload arising from Brexit, ensuring customs processes can continue to operate effectively and efficiently in a post-Brexit environment," the statement said.

Revenue said it worked within a framework of "close inter-agency and international cooperation to combat shadow economy activity, including smuggling".

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