Monday 21 October 2019

Gardai will not be deployed for customs checks along border in no-deal Brexit - Charlie Flanagan

A file photograph from 2011 of interaction between the PSNI and gardai on the border. Photo: Mark Condren
A file photograph from 2011 of interaction between the PSNI and gardai on the border. Photo: Mark Condren
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Gardai will not be deployed in manning customs checkpoints along the Border in the event of a “hard” Brexit deal.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan made clear today that neither he nor the rest of the Government envisaged a return to the “tougher, heavily armed” garda patrolling of the Border that existed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

A similar stance has been adopted on the northern side of the Border by the PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne.

Mr Flanagan said the gardai would continue to be available in the region to combat terrorism and border-related crime including smuggling.

He said nobody was better placed than Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to be in a position to determine what was required in terms of Border policing.

He said an additional 150 gardai had been sent to the region in the past two years and that policy would continue while the provision of a third armed support unit, located in Cavan, was a big boost to the other units, based in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, and Dundalk, Co Louth.

Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)
Charlie Flanagan (Brian Lawless/PA)

READ MORE: Government U-turn on plan to recruit 800 new gardai in 2020

The minister emphasised that the greatest threat to the security of the State was posed by dissident republicans and every effort was being made north and south of the border through co-operation between the two police forces and other agencies to tackle those groups and bring those responsible for acts of terrorism to justice.

Mr Flanagan explained that the decision to recruit “up to” 700 new gardai in 2020, rather than the previously announced 800, was influenced by his desire to allow Commissioner Harris some flexibility in how he deployed the personnel under his control.

He said 800 gardai had been recruited annually in 2017 and 2018 but it had been agreed this year that 600 gardai would be taken in this year, allowing funding for Mr Harris to further increase the number of civilians.

The current strength of the Garda force is 14,200 and this is expected to rise to 14,400 by the end of the year.

Mr Flanagan said it was anticipated that between 250 and 300 gardai would retire next year but he was satisfied that they were on target to increase garda strength to 15,000 by 2021.

The recruitment of more civilians and garda reservists would bring the overall strength of the police service up to the planned figure of 21,000, he added.

The minister announced that additional funding was being made available by the Government before the end of December to cover the costs incurred in policing the visits o

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