Irish government ‘not preparing to send soldiers to border post-Brexit’

Ireland is not preparing to send soldiers to the border post-Brexit, an Irish parliamentary committee has heard.

European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee said there were no plans to identify locations for customs posts at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that there was an onus on the UK to ensure the invisible border that currently exists does not change.

“In terms of sending soldiers or identifying places for posts, this is simply not happening,” Ms McEntee said.

“We’re not considering anything in terms of a wall or otherwise.

“We’ve consistently said that, and consistently repeated, that there is an onus on the UK to fulfil its obligations as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.”

She described the invisible border that exists between Northern Ireland and Ireland as integral to the success of the Good Friday Agreement and its continued success going forward.

Ms McEntee made the comments in response to questions from TDs and senators over the Irish Government’s contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.

She appeared before the European Union Affairs committee on Wednesday to give an update on the country’s Brexit preparedness after attending a meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday.

Ms McEntee told the committee that a no-deal Brexit would be highly disruptive and would have profound political, economic and legal implications, most seriously for the UK, but also for Ireland and the rest of the EU.

She said the government was trying to ensure as much as possible that all its plans were in parallel with what the EU is preparing.

Details of the government’s contingency legislation, which is in line with the EU-27’s approach to preparations for the UK’s withdrawal, is due to be published on Friday and introduced into the Dail next week.

She said additional physical infrastructure needed at ports and airports in a no-deal scenario was being developed to ensure East-West trade continues as smoothly as possible post-Brexit.

“At Dublin and Rosslare Ports, sites suitable for temporary infrastructure have been identified and refurbishment work has begun,” Ms McEntee said.

“Space for truck parking is being secured in both locations. At the same time, plans are advanced for the development of permanent infrastructure in both ports.

“At Dublin Airport, existing facilities can cater for the volumes of traffic involved in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

She also said the Revenue was on target to have 400 additional customs staff trained and in place by the end of March and that 200 more staff could be recruited by the end of the year.

Veterinary personnel and 70 other support staff are also being recruited to implement animal and health checks, as are 61 extra environmental health staff.

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