Travel security ‘will be stricter post-Brexit’, says Taoiseach

Increased security at Irish airports and ports will have to happen even if the UK does not crash out of the EU, the Taoiseach has said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is to present detailed contingecy plans to the Cabinet on Wednesday after the EU issued a warning to all 27 states to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit next March.

The internal EU document warned all member states, companies, and stakeholders to step up preparation for a no-deal Brexit scenario.

The Irish Examiner understands the Government plan has different strands to it but the primary focus at present is the potential impact on Irish ports and airports.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said gardaí are aware of the contingency planning.

“I met with senior management recently and I visited the border area and some key Garda stations in Co Louth,” he said. “Until we see the final text it is difficult to predict with accuracy, but the gardaí are working to ensure all eventualities are prepared for.”

Publicly, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Coveney have insisted no consideration is being given to the possibility of a hard border.

However, speaking in Mayo yesterday, Mr Varadkar agreed there will be changes to our ports and airports post-Brexit.

“What we are not preparing for is a border between North and South,” he said. “We have said categorically that there will not be a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“We will need to make preparations for changes at our ports and airports, even if there isn’t a hard Brexit or a no-deal scenario, once Britain decides to leave the EU at some point in the future there may need to be checks that currently don’t exist and that’s really where the preparations centre on — ports and airports that deal with trade with the UK.

“That’s not that we think is a likely outcome but we think it is prudent that every member state plan for the worst, that would be a hard Brexit without a deal and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

It is likely that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit on March 29, hundreds of additional customs staff and Department of Agriculture staff will be required to deal with the fallout.

It is also believed that at a very high level within the Government, emergency plans to deal with the return of a border between North and South are being developed, but Government advisers and spokespeople have been warned explicitly not to talk about it.

The Taoiseach also hit out comments made by Donald Trump, claiming the US president should not be interfering in British or EU politics.

Attending a rural Ireland event in Westport, Co Mayo Mr Varadkar said Mr Trump wants to break up the EU and does not represent the views of the British people.

Mr Varadkar said he strongly disagreed with Mr Trump when he said Ms May is not going about Brexit in the right way.

“I don’t think, when you are a foreign president or foreign prime minister, that you should interfere in the internal politics of another country and I don’t think that’s helpful,” he said.

“Secondly his view seems to be that the people of the United Kingdom voted for a hard Brexit. My view is different, it is that they barely voted for Brexit, they voted 52-48 and of course Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t vote for it at all.”

Mr Trump appeared to row back on criticisms he made of Ms May in an interview with The Sun newspaper.

 

During a joint press conference at Chequers, he described Ms May as a “terrific woman” and said she is doing a “terrific job”.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers criticised the fact that the Government’s special Brexit cabinet sub-committee has only met three times in the past year.


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