Irish Republican News · April 16, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Tories seen ready to bring back border checks


Sinn Fein has expressed alarm after both sides of the Brexit debate in the British government accepted that border controls will be introduced along the Irish border in the event of a vote by Britain to leave the European Union.

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson warned any attempt to reintroduce Irish Border controls would be “a major setback for the political process in the North”.

She was responding to former British chancellor Nigel Lawson, chairman of the Vote Leave campaign, who said checks would be needed along the Border in the event of Brexit to prevent illegal immigration.

“There would have to be Border controls, but not a prevention of genuine Irish coming in,” Lawson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, without further explanation.

While polls show a very narrow margin in support of a decision to remain following the June 23rd referendum, British polling companies have made no allowance for the typically underestimated right-wing vote.

There is overwhelming support in Ireland for the retention of the free-travel ‘common travel area’, which includes both islands and predates the EU membership of Britain and Ireland. However, the primacy of the EU Customs Union demands that customs checks take place at the border, even if Britain later chooses to remain in the European Economic Area, an external free-trade union.

Leading Conservatives on both sides of the Brexit debate have spoken of the likelihood of both passport and customs checks if Britain votes to quit the EU.

Justice minister Dominic Raab, who is also campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, agreed that Brexit would see an end to the open border.

“You couldn’t leave a back door without some kind, either of checks there with any country or assurances in relation to the checks that they’re conducting, obviously,” he said. “Otherwise, everyone with ill will towards this country would go round that route,” he told Sky News.

British energy secretary Amber Rudd, who wants Britain to remain in the EU, also warned about the reintroduction of Border controls between the 26 and 6 Counties.

“We’d have to wait and see, but what that does highlight is the very dangerous prospects that are out there if we do leave the EU. The lack of certainty is what concerns me,” Ms Rudd said.

There is concern among politicians that a ‘hard border’ would expose the failure of the cross-border elements envisioned in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and that border checkpoints could once again become targets for militant republicans.

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said any attempt to reinstate Border controls in the event of Brexit “would represent a major setback for the political process in the North” and “directly challenge the integrity of the Good Friday [Belfast] Agreement as an internationally binding treaty”.

In a change of tone for Sinn Fein, she delivered a pro-EU speech in Coleraine at an event examining the economic implications of a Brexit.

She said the negative economic implications for the people of the North are very serious, she said, “and whilst the EU must be democratised, this must be done without breaking it apart”.

The correct strategic position from a republican and democratic perspective is to critically engage and reform the EU from within its structures, the Sinn Fein MEP for the Six Counties said.

“That is the best way to challenge the narrow, ideological, conservative and anti-democratic opposition to a social Europe. The strategic and political implications of Brexit run entirely counter to Irish national interests.”

She claimed the combined financial loss to the Six Counties and the border region would be at least 3.5 billion euros.

“The case for Brexit is not motivated or sustained by alternative and better strategies or policies,” Martina Anderson said. “Instead, it is the product of a growth in influence by narrow English nationalism linked to Conservative Tory ideological interests.”

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© 2016 Irish Republican News