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Thursday 14 December 2017

'There won't be any passport controls at Border' - Taoiseach

'The Taoiseach, who like Mrs McAleese was interviewed on the Border issue by RTE, said he was sure passport controls would not be needed.' Pic: INPHO
'The Taoiseach, who like Mrs McAleese was interviewed on the Border issue by RTE, said he was sure passport controls would not be needed.' Pic: INPHO

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he remains "very confident" there will be no need for passport controls on the Border after Brexit.

Mr Varadkar was responding to concerns raised by former president Mary McAleese, who questioned how the EU and UK could differentiate between Irish citizens, who are set to be allowed to travel freely across the Border, and other European nationals.

Mrs McAleese said she did not know how some form of ID checking could be avoided.

If the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement remains in place after Brexit, UK and Irish citizens will continue to be able to work and travel across the two jurisdictions.

Pressure

Mrs McAleese queried how the UK authorities would be able to establish whether a person crossing the Border was a beneficiary of the CTA or not.

"My view is that sooner or later pressure will come on to make it an ID card phenomenon," she said.

The Taoiseach, who like Mrs McAleese was interviewed on the Border issue by RTE, said he was sure passport controls would not be needed.

He highlighted that the British government would seek to control immigration not by physical checks on borders but by imposing limits on rights to work and claim benefits.

"In life and politics nothing is 100pc certain, but I am very confident that there won't be passport controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland," said Mr Varadkar.

"We want to stay in the Common Travel Area, which allows people to travel freely between north and south and Britain and Ireland.

"The British government wants that too and so do our European partners.

"So while there will be a big debate and difficult negotiations around issues such as trade, around issues such as the financial settlement, the fact that Dublin, Belfast, London and Brussels want to continue passport-free travel between Northern Ireland and Ireland gives me absolute assurance.

"I understand former president McAleese's concerns, but it is one area that I am very sure about, and that's that there won't be a requirement to produce a passport to travel to Northern Ireland.

"The reason why I can be confident that there won't be passport controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland is the fact that nobody is looking for them."

Mr Varadkar swapped his usual suit and tie for a pair of runners and shorts yesterday when he took part in a gruelling test of his stamina.

The fitness fanatic put his best foot forward as he completed the Dublin City Triathlon in the Phoenix Park in one hour, 39 minutes and 36 seconds.

Mr Varadkar posed on the finishing line alongside Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who also completed the gruelling challenge.

ANALYSIS: SEE PAGE 14

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