The Government is preparing for the return of a hard border in the wake of Brexit including the return of full ‘red and green channel’ checkpoints, internal documents show.
“No one is aiming for a soft Brexit anymore, it is now about preparing for the worst,” said one minister.
The extent of the contingency planning revealed by the documents is in stark contrast to the public statements from Taoiseach Enda Kenny to date that a move toward a hard border would have very negative consequences for Ireland.
The documents appear to suggest a departure from the Government’s stated strategy to date to ensure the continued free flow of trade on the island and the need to avoid a hard border. The Irish Examiner can reveal:
- Revenue Commissioner officials have been engaged to determine all “legal and practical implications of a range of scenarios”;
- This includes the examination and identification of locations for full border check points with ‘red and green channel’ facilities in Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Donegal;
- The M1 motorway between Dublin and Belfast is to be of considerable focus for customs officials, should a full hard border be needed;
- Brexit teams have been formed in all departments and contingency planning is examining all scenarios. “This work includes technical feasibility of a range of possible outcomes and also the serious political implications that a border may bring,” documents state;
- The Government has a three-pronged strategy to cope with Brexit: Analysis and prioritisation identification; consultation with stakeholders and the public; and programme of engagement with other European governments and the EU;
- A Brexit cabinet has been formed with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, and junior ministers Dara Murphy and Eoghan Murphy.
However, there is concern among some ministers that public statements from the Government “haven’t changed since the day the referendum was defeated,” says one minister.
The documents state the Government’s reluctance to be more specific is down to the lack of clarity coming from Downing Street.
”When negotiations start, Ireland will be ready. We will negotiate hard and fair,” the documents state.
Responding to queries from the Irish Examiner, a Government spokesman said: “The Taoiseach and Government are determined that all possible preparations and contingencies will be made ahead of the UK leaving the EU.”