Lawyers for a former republican prisoner have warned that regulations which established a mile-wide control regime along the British border through Ireland breach free movement rights for all members of the public.
County Fermanagh man Kevin Barry Nolan (pictured) is seeking a judicial review aimed at halting implementation of powers for border checks contained in the “Counter Terrorism Border Security Act” of 2019.
The legislation appears to be in violation of the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Nolan’s barrister, Ronan Lavery, described the provisions as “intrusive” and “chilling”.
“These are draconian powers and the epitome of a hard border,” Mr Lavery argued.
Under the terms of the Act, an “examining officer” can question anyone in a one-mile zone between the North and South to determine if they are engaged in “hostile activity”.
Mr Nolan has said that the regulations breach his private and family rights as protected by European law. A former political prisoner, since his release on licence he has lived close to the border in the village of Belcoo, in County Fermanagh.
His lawyers stressed that he is already required to notify the PSNI of any intended trips which involve crossing the border – but the new powers also unlawfully impact on the general public.
“It’s everybody living or travelling within a mile of the border,” he said. “The extent of the provisions go further than mere notification, they involve questioning and retention of material.”
Outside court, Mr Nolan’s lawyer, Michael Brentnall, said: “This legislation creates a border area regime which, in effect, suspends EU law and rights in an area comprising one mile of the border without invoking the derogations for war or public emergency.
“It gives the state the power to stop, question, search, seize property from, retain property, copy information, remove from a vehicle, search goods belonging to, obtain fingerprints and DNA samples from, arrest, prosecute, fine and/or imprison a person on suspicion on crossing the border on the island of Ireland.”
Judgment on the challenge was reserved.