Friday 23 March 2018

Canadian border 'wouldn't work here'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Kevin Doyle and Nicola Anderson

A border similar to the one between the United States and Canada would not work on the island of Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

After visiting a checkpoint near Toronto, the Taoiseach said it should not be cited as a solution to the Brexit dilemma facing the Border region here.

He described the process on the Canadian side as "high-tech, highly efficient and highly organised", but warned: "Make no mistake, it's a hard border".

"There are armed guards, dogs, flags and checkpoints," he said.

The Taoiseach got a briefing from the Canadian Border Service, which has been working to streamline what is a "highly complex" operation.

There are 250 crossing points along the Canadian border that cost around €1bn annually to operate.

Some experts have suggested Ireland and UK could adopt elements of the Canadian system after Brexit.

The Border between the Republic of Ireland and the North, which stretches for 500km, will be the only land border between the EU and UK in the post-Brexit era.

Describing his observations from the Canadian border, Mr Varadkar said: "They have a system for what they call 'trusted importers' which is a three-stage process; providing advance information, risk assessment and processing at point of entry.

"They use technology to help identify and stop prohibited goods such as firearms." However, he said tradesman who worked on both sides of the border "face particular challenges".

Each time they cross the border they have to go through a validation process.

"Large companies have well established processes for dealing with the customs requirements, but the border officials told me it can be much tougher for smaller firms," he said.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business