The first formal border checks between Ireland and Britain for more than 80 years are set to begin following an announcement by the Dublin and London governments on Thursday.

There will also be resumed border patrols to question motorists travelling across the land border into the north, meaning searches will once again be carried out on vehicles travelling from the 26 Counties.

And for the first time, travellers will have to show their passports if going by air or sea between the two jurisdictions.

However, the British government said increased controls at the border would not mean a return to "fixed" British Army checkpoints, which were routinely attacked by the IRA in the past.

The two governments insisted that the proposed measures recognised "the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland".

Dublin's Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said "state of the art border technology", joint sea and port operations, and the exchange of military intelligence would be deployed.

This would include electronic border management systems to identify people arriving and leaving the country, and select "people who may be of interest to our law enforcement authorities".

The changes will affect the Common Travel Area set up in 1925 between the two jurisdictions as well as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

The inclusion of the 26 Counties in the Common Travel Area effectively comes to an end as a result of the proposed legislation.

The main focus of the new policy will be to track the movement of people between the 26 Counties and British jurisdiction, allowing a clamp down on illegal immigration.

Airlines and ferries are to face fines for allowing passengers without passports to travel.

"Passengers on air and sea routes will experience some delay due to the introduction of border controls," the document warned.


In a separate development, the Continuity IRA has issued a warning to British Customs officials that they could become targets if they continue to operate along the border with the PSNI police.

The statement was read to republicans attended the unveiling of a memorial in County Cavan in the name of the South Fermanagh Command of the Continuity IRA.

"It has come to our attention that in recent weeks Customs and Excise and the DVLA (the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) have been collaborating with the RUC in the County Fermanagh area," the statement read.

"We order them to desist immediately or we will be forced to label them legitimate targets."

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© 2008 Irish Republican News