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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Top gardai in talks over border staff after Brexit

Security meeting to brief officers on deployments

Stock photo
Stock photo
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Garda managers from border regions have been summoned to a high-level security meeting as Brexit looms.

Chief superintendents are expecting to be briefed on deployment of personnel, patrols and funding to ensure that small border stations are properly equipped to deal with the expected influx of personnel.

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The meeting is going ahead even though government ministers believe it is "very unlikely" the UK will crash out of Europe on March 29 without a deal, and thereby unlikely there will be hard border.

Garda management have signed off on plans to dispatch graduates from the Garda College in Templemore to the Border for uniform duties.

Additional armed patrols will also be deployed to provide 24-hour armed cover in certain border regions.

The patrols are in addition to the extra work undertaken by the Garda's special detective unit, which has stepped up its investigations into dissident republican groups that are using Brexit as a "recruitment tool".

Security sources say that management are also examining whether to re-open some stations on the border and upgrade others.

Garda numbers are expected to rise by around 600 because of additional recruitment, providing the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris with leeway when it comes to deployment.

However, the number of border crossings that may require policing has increased dramatically since the Troubles, to an estimated 300.

A security source said dissident republicans remain the "number one threat". The New IRA has stepped up its paramilitary activity and has been actively recruiting. The group claimed responsibility for a letter bomb campaign targeted at transport hubs and military recruitment offices in the UK. It was also responsible for a car bomb in Derry in January.

Smuggling is expected to be a significant issue, with organised criminal gangs as well as dissident groups poised to exploit opportunities.

A joint assessment carried out by the Garda and the PSNI last year said organised crime could increase post-Brexit.

The Government has also been warned that the number of asylum seekers into the country could increase.

Gardai have been tight-lipped about their Brexit plans. The Police Service of Northern Ireland, in contrast, has secured £16.5m funding for 308 additional officers and staff by 2020, in light of "challenges" posed by Brexit.

In addition, it was reported last month that 1,000 police officers from England and Scotland were in training for possible redeployment to Northern Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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