Wednesday 26 July 2017

Passport checks on trains 'most viable' hard Border option

Senator Neale Richmond with the Brexit report. Picture: Tom Burke
Senator Neale Richmond with the Brexit report. Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Passport checks on moving cross-Border trains are "the most viable option" for minimising disruption should Brexit result in a hard Border, a Seanad committee has said.

Senators examining the implications of Brexit and potential solutions said that when it came to rail travel, the "ideal solution" would be the continuance of the common travel area with Northern Ireland.

However, failing that, their report said passport checks that cause the least disruption should be pursued. It cited the arrangements between Finland and Russia - where the documents are checked as the train is moving - as a solution.

This would avoid passengers having to disembark at the Border, as happens at some EU frontiers. The report said airport-style passport controls at train stations would be another potential fix. However, there are concerns that Dart and other rail users would be able to access the Dublin to Belfast Enterprise train at various stations unless modifications are made to the platforms.

"With the rail services, you don't want any border because you want the UK to remain part of the travel area," committee chairman Senator Neale Richmond emphasised.

The report said bus services would face "significant challenges" as some routes cross the Border multiple times and taxi services will also be affected.

Read More: Warning UK food inflation already affecting Irish producers

Mr Richmond said new laws might be needed to govern cross-Border taxis because "not only is it a movement of people but it's a movement of a service".

He raised concern that new Border posts could become a target for dissident paramilitaries.

The committee's report said a new Open Skies Agreement with the UK needed to be put in place before spring 2018 and "significant investment" might be required at Irish ports to cater for more freight and increased direct links to the continent. Separately, the wide-ranging report included concerns raised by the horse racing industry, which has extensive links to the UK.

It said senators were told consideration should be given to the creation of a new type of visa between the UK and Ireland for a 'professional sportsperson', to allow jockeys to move easily through both jurisdictions.

The report also said the maintenance of the current tripartite agreement on the movement of horses between Ireland, the UK and France was a potential solution to problems posed by Brexit.

Irish Independent

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