Thursday 21 June 2018

Hard Brexit will create corridors of crime for gangs, warn senior gardaí

A disused customs guard hut directly situated on the north-south Irish border in Newry, Northern Ireland. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
A disused customs guard hut directly situated on the north-south Irish border in Newry, Northern Ireland. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

A hard Brexit will at least quadruple the number of Border crossings and create "corridors" to be exploited by criminal gangs, senior gardaí believe.

They say that unless the strength of the Garda force is dramatically increased, vast areas of the country will be denuded of a proper policing service to provide the numbers needed to patrol the Border counties.

The grim warning will be delivered today by the Association of Garda Superintendents at its annual conference in Naas.

It wants Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and his Cabinet colleagues to begin planning now to counteract the impact of Brexit in the Border region.

Association president Noel Cunningham told the Irish Independent last night: "During the Troubles, the majority of cross-Border roads were closed with only the main roads remaining open.

"But as a result of the peace process, all of the roads are now open, at least quadrupling the number of crossings and that creates these corridors for criminals to travel."

He pointed out that if you travelled the Border from Donegal to Louth, most of the PSNI Border stations that existed during the Troubles were now shut and the current stations were located about 16km back from the Border.

He said the significant reduction in policing presence in the Border region since the peace process began created a new challenge with Brexit.

Garda numbers during the Troubles were at least three times the current levels and if those numbers were to be restored out of the current strength, it would mean denying the big urban centres and other divisions of Garda personnel.

"We would have to strip them of gardaí. So we need to think about that during the current recruitment campaign and plan strategically for Brexit," he said.

Mr Cunningham said he hoped the reaction from the minister, due to address the conference along with Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin this afternoon, would be positive.

Irish Independent

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