Officials rule out British staff at Irish ports and airports

Both governments envisage an enhancement of existing systems of information exchange

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire: “Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the Common Travel Area, building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners.” Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire: “Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the Common Travel Area, building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners.” Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

 

Any move to strengthen Ireland’s external border and deepen co-operation on combating illegal immigration after Brexit will not involve the deployment of British personnel to Irish ferry ports and airports, British and Irish official sources have told The Irish Times.

Both governments instead envisage an enhancement of existing systems of information exchange.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told the Guardian this week that, rather than introducing a “hard border” on the island of Ireland, strengthening Ireland’s external border could help to control immigration into both Britain and Ireland.

“We have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration, working closely with the Irish Government. Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the Common Travel Area, building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners,” Mr Brokenshire said.

Co-operation

Both British and Irish sources said they could not envisage any circumstances where British border police or immigration officials would be present at Irish ports.

Earlier this year, the Government introduced a statutory instrument to share information on all passengers entering the Common Travel Area before they start their journey. In 2014, the two governments introduced a single visa for the UK and Ireland for visitors from China and India.

It was designed to boost tourism but it was underpinned by greater data sharing, including the collection of biometrics as part of the Irish visa application process and new systems for the automated sharing and cross-checking of information with British authorities.

The Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland has been in operation almost continuously since shortly after the foundation of the State but it has a different legal basis in each country. Britain’s 1971 Immigration Act says that Irish citizens arriving in the UK from Ireland do not require leave to enter.

‘Non-national’

After Brexit, Ireland would still be bound by the EU’s free movement commitment, which forbids most restrictions on immigration from other EU member states.

So even with stronger controls at Irish air and sea ports after Brexit, there would be nothing to stop EU nationals arriving in Ireland from travelling on to the UK.

Both governments believe, however, that few EU citizens would wish to work and live illegally in the UK if they can work legally elsewhere in Europe.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.