Friday 21 July 2017

'No need for stop and search at Border' - Revenue

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Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Free movement of goods and people with the North post-Brexit is achievable in principle, Revenue's top Brexit official has said.

Customs operations could be automated for commercial vehicles, while private cars and vehicles could flow freely and there'll be no need for permanent checkpoints, said Tony Buckley, assistant secretary at Revenue.

But the stakes for Ireland were very high, and it could face losing access to EU and international markets and potential fines if it failed to operate what would be an external EU frontier post-Brexit adequately, he said.

Mr Buckley said the bulk of checks on commercial vehicles would be automated electronically, saying currently just 2pc involve physical checks.

"The main image that comes to people's minds when it comes to a border is cars being stopped and searched," Mr Buckley told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce conference.

"That's not going to happen. There's no reason for it. We have some 300 Border crossings. We haven't the faintest intention of closing any of those or interfering with them.

"So normal private traffic, people going back and forth, will continue."

Mr Buckley said around one million HGVs crossed the Border every year each way, as well as 1.3 million white vans and more than 12 million cars.

He said post-Brexit, if the UK left the customs union, controls would have to be on heavy goods vehicles and smaller commercial vans, but that most would be automated.

This could be achieved through advanced declaration and electronic monitoring, combined with a certain amount of traffic monitoring.

Trade facilitation posts would be required close to the Border, but what would happen at these posts was not clear until the negotiations played out, he said. There was little desire to have physical vehicle checks at these posts.

Mr Buckley said physical checks were carried out on no more than 2pc of goods coming across Ireland's borders and a further 6pc are document checks.

He said the Government's ambition could be realised. "What the Taoiseach has articulated is deliverable. How exactly we don't know, because we don't know exactly what the details of the negotiating outcome will be. Certainly in principle it is deliverable to have continued free movement of people and goods on the island," he said.

Irish Independent

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