Irish politicians not ‘exploiting fantasies’ about Border in Brexit debate

Fianna Fáil TD says article by Sammy Wilson and Owen Paterson has no recourse to facts

A Fianna Fáil TD has criticised former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson and DUP MP Sammy Wilson for remarks made about the Irish Border during the Brexit debate.

Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith said Mr Paterson and Mr Wilson had published a jointly written article in the Daily Telegraph, in which they argued that re-establishing the Border would not be an issue.

“Without any recourse to facts or reality, they accuse political leaders on this island, and anti-Brexiteers in Britain, of exploiting fantasies about the Irish Border,” Mr Smith added.

“They base this on the extraordinary discovery that there is a Border and it hasn’t gone away.”

Speaking during a Dáil debate on Thursday on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Mr Smith said there was a Border and that “it is there because there are two jurisdictions on this island”.

“There are separate legal, criminal justice and healthcare systems,” he said, adding that there were also separate political and governmental administrations.

“Did this news seriously come as a shock to a DUP MP and a former Northern Ireland secretary?” he asked. “Yes, there is a Border, but it is as soft a Border as possible.”

Mr Smith said there were no checkpoints, there was no Border infrastructure and there were no military installations.

“It is no longer a Border that is patrolled on both sides with a heavy customs, police and armed military,” he added.

“While Mr Paterson and Mr Wilson may not understand the difference between the two situations, I can assure them that I and my constituents do . . . We know it based on experience.’’

He said they knew what was there before, and “we know we do not wish to travel one single step back towards that horrible and tragic past’’.