BREXIT BOMBSHELL: Ireland ‘SECRETLY PLANNING’ for hard Brexit – shock survey of border

Daily Express :: Politics Feed
BREXIT BOMBSHELL: Ireland ‘SECRETLY PLANNING’ for hard Brexit – shock survey of border

Both Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney are on record as saying there is no planning being undertaken for a return to a hard border, but an investigation carried out by the Irish Examiner has suggested preparations for “all eventualities” are under way.

Citing sources working within various Government agencies, the newspaper said a “high-level scoping exercise” was underway aimed at identifying “what type of capacity would be needed” along the border, and the best ways to provide this.

One insider said: “Things are a lot more advanced than people are saying in public in every aspect in terms of preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

“There are already customs turnoffs. You go up the M1 to Belfast and you see the cut-out that is still there from 20 years ago where people were brought in for customs checks, and it’s probably developing more on existing things.”

While the OPW regularly carries out audits of the land and buildings it owns and controls for other departments, it is understood that a new emphasis is being put on the border region, with the M1 specifically being examined.

Irish Government agency the Office of Public Works regular inspects and audits buildings which it owns, as well as those belonging to other government departments.

But the Examiner said officials were increasingly focusing their attention on the area along the , particularly the M1 motorway, which forms the bulk of the N1 national primary road which links Dublin and Belfast.

The insider said the officials were considering “how they could incorporate maybe customs or agriculture checkpoints on the land that they have or whether they would have to acquire more land”.</span></span></span>

Another source added: “They did a survey of the entire border and identified all Government properties.

“That surveying work is done every few years, so working off the basis of where do we have properties on the border, a lot of them are old military installations, or the garda station that has been closed in X border town that are still in the ownership of the OPW or the State, zoning of land and things like that.

“There is a context, topographical reports on Monaghan are suddenly being looked at a lot closer, but they are being done anyway.”

A third insider said: “There is definitely planning taking place, but it is extremely hush hush as to how it is being spoken about and about how it is being driven at secretary general and assistant secretary level.”</span></span>

The anticipation was that, in the event of a hard border, the EU would allow Ireland a period of “grace” whereby goods arriving from the UK could be delivered without checks, he added.

has stated that, separate to published contingency planning around ports and airports, work is going on “in the background” to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking at a Brexit Ready roadshow in Dublin’s Convention Centre last week, Mr Coveney said these plans would be “a much more dramatic response because what that would mean is that we would have to have certain things ready to kick in by March 29 next year and we will have to work with the EU on contingencies for that too”.

However, a spokesman for Mr Coveney dismissed rumours about the “scoping exercise” as “rubbish”, insisting: “Under no circumstances will there be a return to the border of the past”.</span>

On Friday, Mr Varadkar said he was “confident but not complacent” that there will not be a hard border in Ireland.

However, Fianna Fáil Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers has lodged an official complaint about the lack of available information about preparations for the next year.

She added: “I have been completely stonewalled.”</span>

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