Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bertie Ahern: Strengthening Irish border checks after Brexit is 'illogical'

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern

Ed Carty & Louise Kelly

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has dismissed the idea that border checks could be beefed up in Ireland to control immigration into Britain.

Mr Ahern said it was illogical to think that Irish ports and airports would become proxy points of entry into the UK to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The suggestion was mooted in recent weeks, with Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire adding that governments in London and Dublin would work to strengthen the Republic's external borders after Brexit.

Mr Ahern said the Irish Government should not facilitate it.

"I can't imagine it happening," the former taoiseach said.

Mr Ahern said Ireland should not have any right to interrogate a plane load of passengers coming into Dublin from another European Union country.

"Imagine if the same was to happen to Irish people going to EU countries," he told Newstalk radio.

"Say if you and I today were going over to a conference or a football game or rugby match or whatever and we were to get that interrogation with our EU passport. We don't mind being checked. We don't mind producing it. But to start being questioned is not logical."

Michael Noonan's Budget 2017 only helps FTBs acquiring new homes, preventing second-hand starter home owners from moving on
Michael Noonan's Budget 2017 only helps FTBs acquiring new homes, preventing second-hand starter home owners from moving on

Garda sergeants and inspectors made the decision at an historic AGSI meeting yesterday to refuse to work on the four days of strike action planned by their rank-and-file colleagues next month.

"Public servants have gone through eight hard years and they’re now in a position where they’re a long way behind," Mr Ahern told The Pat Kenny Show.

"There are a number of these problems that are there and these issues have to be resolved and I wish the ministers well in those negotiations."

The former Fianna Fail politician said that the party had to get out of "very difficult situation last year where there were two alternatives to an agreement or have another election".

"I think they were right to do an agreement, it'll last a few years I suspect," he said.

"If we had've gone down the road of having several elections like we almost did. That would have been a bad thing. That kind of arrangment wasn't good."

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Mr Ahern said he agreed with a lot of economic policies that have followed the election and that last week's Budget "gave stability for a year or 18 months, in fairness".

"By and large (Finance Minister) Michael Noonan has done a good, sound job over the last number of years and I support what he's been doing," he added.

Mr Ahern said he was confident that Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin would lead the party into the next election and "has a very good chance at being Taoiseach".

On the issue of water charges, Mr Ahern said he personally doesn't have a problem with them, while he acknowledged that some households could not afford the cost.

"Water charges equals trying to have a better water quality and trying to preserve our water," he said.

"It was perhaps pushed too fast but... based on environmental grounds I wasn't opposed to water charges."

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