Brexit could restore ‘check your boot’ border, says Mary McAleese

Former president warns of potential harm to relationship between Britain and Ireland

Former president Mary McAleese: Speaking at a breakfast for the Women’s Irish Network at the Irish embassy in London, she  said, “If there is a Brexit, that border becomes the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Former president Mary McAleese: Speaking at a breakfast for the Women’s Irish Network at the Irish embassy in London, she said, “If there is a Brexit, that border becomes the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union.” Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Former president Mary McAleese has warned that a British exit from the European Union could harm the relationship between Britain and Ireland and restore a hard border with the North. Speaking at a breakfast for the Women’s Irish Network at the Irish embassy in London, Dr McAleese recalled the cumbersome business of crossing the Border when she was growing up.

“It was a ‘stop you, interrogate you’ border. It was a ‘check your boot’ border. It isn’t today. It’s just up the road,” she said.

“If there is a Brexit, what happens to that road? People tell me it will be the same. How do they know? I don’t know. I would wish it to be the same. I would want it to be the same but all my instincts tell me I can’t possibly know that because if there is a Brexit, that border becomes the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union.”

Birmingham Irish Association

Paul Kehoe

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan will visit Liverpool and Manchester next week as part of the Government’s effort to mobilise hundreds of thousands of Irish- born people living in Britain to vote to remain in the EU.

“As the UK’s closest neighbour, Ireland has a unique perspective and interest in the outcome of the referendum. The Irish Government fully respects that, first and foremost, this is a decision for UK voters to make on June 23rd but the Irish Government wants the UK, as its closest neighbour and partner, to remain a member of a reformed EU,” Mr Kehoe said.