An armed Garda support unit is to be permanently deployed to the border in a decision which appears to confirm plans for a cross-border remilitarisation of the area.
A full-time border patrol unit is to be increased to include five Garda sergeants and 25 officers.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (pictured) announced a year ago that the unit would temporarily control the border area in an area stretching across Cavan and Monaghan. Last week he said that the ASU would become a permanent feature and that a new base for the unit is “almost finished”.
Harris is a former chief in the RUC (now PSNI) Special Branch and is believed to have connections to British military intelligence. He told a joint policing committee in Cavan that the Gardai were working to build “depth” within its armed units to cope with any resistance in the border region to Brexit.
The new Garda unit is to be on a permanent footing in Cavan alongside parallel units in Ballyshannon in County Donegal and Dundalk in County Louth.
John Connolly of Republican Sinn Féin said the comments make it look “highly likely” there are plans afoot by both governments to create a hard border.
His party has described harassment by British forces across the border in Fermanagh, with some activists being subjected to approaches to become MI5 informers.
“Sinn Féin Poblachtach will oppose any form of physical infrastructure imposed by the British government which would be viewed as the manifestation of a foreign occupying force,” he said.
“Our view is that there should be no ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ border in Ireland. No border is acceptable under British rule. The only border with Britain we accept is down the Irish Sea.
“We call for a British withdrawal from Ireland so that the Irish people can come together and build a future that would include all the people of Ireland no matter what political background they come from.”
Meanwhile, a committee of the British parliament has sought reassurances from MI5 that it will be able to combat a renewal of conflict in the event of a hard Brexit. A 14-page academic report to another parliamentary committee warned of a return to violence and smuggling.
DUP MP Ian Paisley labelled the research “one sided” and denounced the academics as “inflating the problem”, but Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley described Paisley’s dismissal of the academic research as “a common thread” running through the language of Brexit supporters.
“If it doesn’t suit their view, Brexiteers cover their eyes and ears to the reality of a hard Brexit,” she said.