Enda Kenny: No Brexit deal on use of Irish ports as border control points

No agreement exists with the British government about the use of Irish ports as border control points, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Ships at the Ringaskiddy ferry terminal, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

British ministers including secretary of state for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire had claimed London and Dublin were working to strengthen Ireland’s external borders to combat illegal migration into the UK after Brexit.

He said such a “high level of collaboration” would help avoid the introduction of a hard border between North and South.

During leaders’ questions, in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny said his Government was not aware of what the British were looking for in the wake of Brexit.

“We do not know yet what the British government is actually looking for here.

“Is it a hard Brexit exit from the customs union and the single market and control at their own borders, or is it something else?”

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that Ireland would remain within the fold of the EU.

He acknowledged Brexit brings many complex problems. “If, for instance, the UK removed itself from the customs union, that is going to lead to a serious challenge in terms of tariffs from the World Trade Organisation.”

There would also be a challenge if the UK removes itself from the single market and tries to control its own borders, he said.

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Mr Kenny said the Government does not want a return to a hard border and an end to the common travel area, and he said those views have been made clear to British authorities.

Ireland does not want to see a return to the traditional customs posts, he said, which had led to all sorts of incidents such as smuggling and more serious matters of life and death.

Mr Kenny was speaking in response to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who was seeking clarity as to whether agreement had been reached with the British government to put immigration controls in place at Irish ports and airports.

He said it was his fourth attempt to get Mr Kenny to answer the question. Mr Adams said such controls would not be viable.

Mr Kenny also revealed he has sent 300 invitations to political leaders, business representatives, and other bodies for Wednesday’s civil dialogue on Brexit, which will take place in Dublin.

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