Irish Border checks cannot be stepped up for UK - Ahern
Published 19/10/2016 | 02:30
Border checks at Irish airports and ports cannot be beefed up in order to control immigration into Britain, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has insisted.
Mr Ahern said it was illogical to think that the Irish State would become a proxy point of entry into the UK to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The suggestion was mooted in recent weeks, with Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire adding that governments in London and Dublin would work to strengthen the Republic's external borders after Brexit.
Mr Ahern, who will address the Northern Ireland Economic Conference in Derry today, said the Irish Government should not facilitate such a move.
"I can't imagine it happening," he said. The ex-Fianna Fáil leader said Ireland should not have any right to interrogate a plane load of passengers coming into Dublin from another European Union country.
"Imagine if the same was to happen to Irish people going to EU countries," he said on Newstalk's 'The Pat Kenny Show'.
"Say if you and I today were going over to a conference or a football game or rugby match or whatever and we were to get that interrogation with our EU passport.
"We don't mind being checked. We don't mind producing it. But to start being questioned is not logical."
Mr Ahern, pictured, said he believed immigration was voters' primary concern in the referendum - but he warned that it was not thought through properly.
Meanwhile in the Dáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he would like to see the political parties in Northern Ireland reach a consensus on their approach to Brexit by the time the North South Ministerial Council meets on November 18.
He said a "consensus opinion" would help him argue on their behalf at the European Council.
"It is very important that, despite political differences, we at least have a common view as to where the parties in the Executive and Assembly want Northern Ireland to go so that we can help them and work with them and that is our intention," he said.
Mr Kenny added that if there is a division of opinion, it is "not going to help anyone's case or help to make the case for the particular circumstances that apply", including the peace process and the need for no return to a hard border.