Former taoisigh have warned of violent and criminal consequences if Brexit triggers the setting up of fresh border infrastructure in the North.
The Government has also been advised not to let Brexit talks drift into the last “evil hour” of negotiations in October where Ireland could be cornered into agreeing a deal on the North.
The cautions were made at a special Brexit Institute of International and European Affairs conference in Dublin.
Both John Bruton and Bertie Ahern warned of potential violence if there is a new border.
Mr Ahern outlined how new infrastructure separating North and South could be forcefully dismantled.
“There is not going to be a physical border across Ireland because if you tried to put it there you wouldn’t have to wait for terrorism to take it down, people would just physically pull it down — the ordinary people.”
Mr Ahern, taoiseach from 1997 until 2008, insisted the Government must secure a border deal ahead of a crunch EU leaders’ summit in October.
Leaving it all until the “evil hour” of negotiations was “dangerous,” the conference heard, and France or Germany may push Ireland into a deal.
“That’s always how it works,” said Mr Ahern.
“I don’t think they should find themselves having a Halloween party at two o’clock in the morning.”
Mr Bruton, taoiseach from 1994 to 1997, said Britain’s exit could prompt fresh checks on goods with levies or inspections.
“We know from history that, with the existence of border posts, however unobtrusive these might be, symbolises for many people the partition of the country, which for many people is something they don’t accept and that therefore is going to become potentially a target,” said Mr Bruton
Different tax regimes could trigger smuggling which was aligned to paramilitary activity.
“The opportunities for smuggling will dramatically increase,” he said.
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