Monday 16 September 2019

Technology can avoid a hard Border, insists senior Orangeman

'No backstop means a Border'. Stock image
'No backstop means a Border'. Stock image
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

If mankind can fly people to the Moon then a technological system capable of preventing a hard Border must be feasible, a senior Orange Order figure has said.

Rev Mervyn Gibson said unionists were not calling for a hard Border.

"In fact, I think the ones who insist on a hard Border is Europe, not us," he said.

The Orange Order's grand secretary made the comments at an event in Dublin marking the 20th anniversary of the referendums that followed the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Gibson said most people appeared to be in favour of a soft Border and he was "happy" with that as long as a Border was there. He said: "We can fly people to the Moon. We can go to Mars with probes but we can't sort out some sort of technological system that controls borders?"

Mr Gibson suggested tracking devices could be placed on lorries carrying goods across the Border. "Let's be innovative about this. Let's not be negative and say it can't be done. Let's look for a solution," he said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney later responded to Mr Gibson's comments, reiterating his view that a technological solution is not realistic.

He challenged those making such suggestions to point to a border anywhere in the world that uses technology without border infrastructure.

Mr Coveney said a political solution was required.

He said the Government would be happy with "some magic solution" if it emerges in the Brexit talks.

In the meantime, the Government is concentrating on having a backstop in place that would see regulatory alignment remaining on both sides of the Border in the absence of an agreement.

Mr Coveney also said the day the Good Friday Agreement was passed in referendums on both sides of the Border was a "very special day in the history of this island".

He spoke of the need to re-establish the Northern Ireland power-sharing institutions and announced €1m in extra funding for reconciliation projects.

Former RUC policeman Mr Gibson voted against the Good Friday Agreement. But he said that Northern Ireland was in a "far better place" now.

Irish Independent

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