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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Kenny insists there'll be no return to 'hard border' post-Brexit

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with new British PM Theresa May Picture: Reuters
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with new British PM Theresa May Picture: Reuters

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has categorically ruled out the return of a 'hard border' with the North, a scenario he said which involves "customs posts every mile along the road".

Mr Kenny insisted that he secured full agreement with British Prime Minister Theresa May about the Border issue as he moved to dampen concerns about the prospect of checkpoints being returned.

But Mr Kenny again failed to clarify what sort of border will be put in place between the Republic and the North following the decision by Britain to leave the European Union.

The Fine Gael leader said any such border would instead be policed by modern technology and that "creative" and "imaginative" ways would need to be discovered.

"A hard border in normal circumstances means customs posts and checks on a very regular basis. There will be no return to the hard border of the past.

"The hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland in the past included towers, obviously military equipment, for many reasons," Mr Kenny said.

"So obviously, I do not favour and I would not agree to a hard border with a whole range of customs posts, and neither does the Prime Minister.

"There will be no hard border from Dundalk to Derry in the context of it being a European border.

"By that I mean customs posts every mile along the road. "There are other ways of [using] modern technology in terms of checking trade," he said.

Screened

Mr Kenny indicated that he was open to exploring models such as those implemented in Canada whereby vehicles' registration plates are screened automatically as they approach a border.

"Yeah, I think these are things that need to be looked at creatively and imaginatively. But we are both agreed very firmly that there will be no return to a hard border as existed previously."

But Mr Kenny twice dodged questions about the prospect of a united Ireland.

Mr Kenny made the remarks following a meeting in Downing Street with Ms May that lasted one hour, fifteen minutes.

The pair laughed and shook hands and appeared to enjoy a warm atmosphere in the White Room at No.10, which was decked with a tricolour and Union Jack.

It was the first visit of a head of State to Downing Street since Ms May succeeded David Cameron as Prime Minister earlier this month.

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