independent

Monday 26 February 2018

Brexit fears for 30,000 commuters

Olivia Ryan

Up to 30,000 people cross the border in Ireland for work every day according to a new committee set up in Britain to examine the potential impact of Brexit.

The influential committee of Westminster MPs warned that 'imposing controls at the soft land boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, crossed by up to 30,000 commuters a day for work, would cause considerable disruption.'

The report by the Westminster committee, 'Northern Ireland and the EU Referendum' revealed that routes between Dundalk and Newry, and Louth and South Armagh, were among nearly 300 formal and many informal crossing points between north and south.

The inquiry said 'an alternative solution might be to strengthen the border between the island of Ireland and the British mainland.'

'There are fewer crossing points to enforce and it would be less disruptive as there are already checks in place.'

A report issued last week revealed: 'Some airlines flying between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK already subject passengers to identity checks and these could be made more robust and extended to relevant ports such as Holyhead and Stranraer with relative ease.'

A 2001 study estimated there were 18,000 daily cross-border commuters, but fifteen years on, this figure is likely to be as high as 30,000.

The Northern Ireland Office has already warned arrangements guaranteeing free movement of people and goods with the Republic of Ireland could be threatened by Brexit.

Since the 1920s the UK and Ireland have operated a Common Travel Area which allows nationals of both countries to travel and live in each country without immigration controls. They are currently part of an EU customs union which means there are no controls on goods.

The Westminster committee includes MPs who support both the 'leave' and 'remain' campaigns.

Its report also identified the potential impact of a Brexit in key areas like the economy and agriculture.

Irish Independent

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