Irish Republican News · January 9, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
No new checkpoints on border - Brown

The British Prime Minister has said there are no plans to introduce immigration controls at the border between the British-ruled Six Counties and the rest of Ireland.

In a letter to the DUP leader Ian Paisley, Gordon Brown also stated that British citizens travelling between the North of Ireland and Britain will not be subject to passport controls as a result of proposed new electronic borders.

It had been feared that new border checkpoints would be deployed across the North to enforce previously stated plans for a new, US-style electronic screening of arrivals to British territory.

There had also been speculation that Brown may request the Irish government to develop its own ‘e-border’ and provide the relevant data to British military intelligence for screening purposes.

It remains unclear how the plans will be enforced, but Mr Brown’s letter suggests some form of identification will be required for all passengers travelling from the North to Britain by air and sea.

The DUP leader said he was satisfied that the proposed new screening arrangements envisaged by the UK Borders Bill will see the North treated on the same basis as England, Scotland and Wales.

In a statement issued on his behalf, Paisley said he was pleased Mr Brown had “so robustly defended the integrity of the United Kingdom’s border”. He added: “It is only right and proper that British citizens in Northern Ireland are treated on a par with their fellow-countrymen in the rest of the UK.”

Referring to Section 14 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, which introduces a new power for the police to request passenger, crew and service “data” on domestic and sea journeys, Mr Brown confirms this power will be brought into force sometime this year, adding: “So, although passengers may be asked to prove their identity when travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom [as they do already on many flights], there is no question of instituting passport control for people travelling within the United Kingdom.”

Successful joint operations between the British Border and Immigration Agency, British police and the 26-County Garda National Immigration Bureau had successfully prevented “non-common travel area (CTA) nationals attempting to cross the boundary illegally in both directions”, Mr Brown wrote.

But he confirmed “there is no question of introducing fixed immigration controls on either side of the land border” between the North and the South.

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