Border checks at Irish ports if no Brexit deal, Humphreys says

Integrity of EU customs union and single market must be protected, Minister says

Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys said the EU and UK both accept that avoiding a hard border was essential. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys said the EU and UK both accept that avoiding a hard border was essential. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys has dismissed suggestions that Irish goods will be subject to border checks in Dutch and French ports if there is a no-deal Brexit.

She said any checks would be at Irish ports. “At the end of the day we have to protect the integrity of the EU customs union and the single market.”

The Minister was responding to Green party leader Eamon Ryan, who asked about the impact on business if border patrols were implemented by continental ports to check goods from Ireland if there is no deal on the withdrawal agreement.

Mr Ryan pointed to media reports of a comment by the Taoiseach last week that in a no-deal scenario there was a “risk” of Ireland and Britain being treated as one bloc with Brexit border controls in Rotterdam or Calais for goods coming directly from Ireland.

Mr Varadkar is understood to have mentioned the prospect of such checks at a meeting with Opposition leaders last week but a number of those present said it was a remark made only in passing.

Ms Humphreys said: “I think there may have been some misunderstanding there.”

She could assure Mr Ryan “there is no consideration of any such move within Government that there would be checks on the ports in the EU”.

‘Determined’

Mr Ryan said that in a no-deal scenario it seemed clear the Government “is determined not to see checks on the North/South border”.

But he asked, in that event, “where would the checks be that would reassure our European colleagues that all goods coming from Ireland are complying with single-market rules”.

“In respect of goods going directly from Ireland to the continent in the event of a no-deal Brexit and if we are not applying checks on the Northern Ireland border, where would the checks take place?”

Ms Humphreys said the EU and UK both accept that avoiding a hard border was essential.

If the withdrawal agreement did not enter into force “our objective will of course be more difficult to achieve”, but Ireland had to protect the integrity of the EU customs union and single market.

When Mr Ryan said “So it will be on Irish ports, not continental ports”, Ms Humphreys replied: “It will be on Irish ports, yes.”