IT IS, in many respects, a frightening thought that the so-called border with the North no longer exists.
According to a former senior army officer, years of Government cutbacks means that the defence forces no longer have the ability to seal the border in the event of an emergency.
Since 2009, seven barracks have been shut and only two remain along the border — at Finner in south Donegal and at Dundalk. This leaves a huge gap in the middle of the border region.
Retired Brigadier General Ger Ahern’s main concern is not a resurgence of paramilitary activity. He frets about what would happen if there was a repeat of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak in the North: “We have reached a situation today where I, personally and professionally, doubt if the border with Northern Ireland could be sealed in such a crisis.”
While nobody wants to go back to the days of a heavily militarised zone along the border, Gen Ahern knows what he is talking about.
Let us hope our Agriculture and Defence Minister, Simon Coveney, is listening.
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