Irish border is not ‘weak’ says Charlie Flanagan

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has rejected claims from Northern Ireland’s police chief that weaker immigration checks in the Republic of Ireland are providing a route for criminals to enter the UK.

Mr Flanagan said George Hamilton’s comments were “not well-founded”. Earlier this week, Mr Hamilton told a Westminster committee that controls in the Republic of Ireland did not have the same “resource or focus” as those in Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable was being questioned by MPs as part of an inquiry into the future of the Irish border, post-Brexit.

When asked how international criminals were entering the UK and Ireland, he said: “Access into the Republic of Ireland may not have the resource assigned to it, or the immigration checks we would have in Northern Ireland, or, indeed, more broadly into the United Kingdom.”

Mr Hamilton said that 775 people had been detained at Northern Ireland ports in the last year. “I think it would be fair to say that immigration controls into the Republic of Ireland may not have the same resource or focus that we would be seeing in Northern Ireland.”

Asked, on a visit to Belfast yesterday, about the PSNI commander’s comments, Mr Flanagan said: “The remarks of the chief constable have got to be placed in the broader context of relations between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana being at the most positive and closest ever, in terms of sharing of information and working together. Issues in terms of immigration are Dublin/London issues. I don’t believe his remarks are well-founded.”

Mr Flanagan said that the Government had committed additional resources to the gardaí in tackling cross-border crime.

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