British military checkpoints are to return to the border area between the North and South of Ireland following a British decision to abandon the 'Common Travel Area' which has covered both islands since before partition.

The 26-County Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern said today [Wednesday] that the current system allowing monitored but unhindered travel across the border with the Six Counties had been "abused in a large way".

He said that the Irish authorities had been notified by their British counterparts about the development of a border control system. The plan by the British government will require a data-based pre-screening for all those intending to travel to British-ruled territory, including the Six Counties, by 2009.

Asked about the implications of this system for travel between the two parts of Ireland, Mr Ahern said "we will need further Border security controls".

He told the Dail that British authorities would roll out the development of a US-style e-border system by 2009. It would be designed to collect and analyse passenger information in advance of travel based on passport data.

Mr Ahern said a person's passport detail would then be cross-checked with a number of "watchlists".

Republican militarists have maintained a low level of activity in border areas and have attacked the rail line between Dublin and Belfast in recent months.

Rioting broke out for the second time this week in the town of Lurgan, County Armagh, from where the attacks are said to have been launched.

Members of the PSNI in riot gear clashed with local youths after carrying out a series of raids in town, provoking the latest night of serious disorder.

Meanwhile, in a peace gesture by Ahern, it was announced that a Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement is to be one of 16 new committees being established in the Dublin parliament.

It is understood that Westminster MPs elected for constituencies in the North will be permitted to attend meetings of the committee.

The historic move will see northerners allowed to take part in debates, but will not have a right to vote or to move motions and amendments.

It is the first time elected representatives from the North will be permitted to attend 26-County parliamentary committee meetings.

Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said the establishment of the committee was "a step forward".

"The participation of MPs from the Six Counties will give the Committee an essential All-Ireland character," he said.

Mr O Caolain said more needed to be done to provide a voice for northerners in the Dublin parliament.

"We have called for representation in the Dail for citizens in the Six Counties. We maintain this call and we do not see the new Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement as a substitute for Six-County representation in the Dail."

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