independent

Friday 19 October 2018

Hard border would need 1,000 gardai

Garda Representative Association annual conference at Wexford. Pictured are Ciaran O’Neill, President and Dundalk based Robbie Peelo Deputy General Sec. Picture: Patrick Browne.
Garda Representative Association annual conference at Wexford. Pictured are Ciaran O’Neill, President and Dundalk based Robbie Peelo Deputy General Sec. Picture: Patrick Browne.

Olivia Ryan

Over 1,000 additional gardaí would be needed to man the border regions in the event of a hard Brexit, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) heard last week.

The GRA's annual conference was told of a 'lack of information about plans for policing the border' following the UK's planned departure from the EU next March.

The GRA, which represents 11,200 rank and file gardaí, said extra resources would be needed regardless of whether there was a hard or soft Brexit.

James Morrisroe, a garda currently based along the border, told the GRA's annual conference in Wexford that the estimate of 1,000 extra gardaí was probably 'a conservative figure.'

The conference was told that there were approximately 208 border crossings along the 500km frontier.

Members also heard that regardless of what type of Brexit happens, more garda resources would be required for the border to deal with terrorism, immigration and ordinary crime, he said.

Garda Morrisroe said that existing resources in counties bordering Northern Ireland were already stretched and at breaking point. 'A hard border outcome as a result of Brexit would, one imagines, place an intolerable strain on already depleted resources. It would simply be unsustainable at current levels,' he said.

Speaking at a press conference, Dónall Ó Cualáin, the acting garda commissioner, said gardaí under John Twomey, the deputy commissioner, were looking at 'all possible outcomes after Brexit but said that ultimately the outcome would be determined by politicians. 'We are preparing for whatever one might land' he said.

Concerns about policing any type of hard border were raised recently by Louth's Chief Supt. Christy Mangan, who predicted a 'doomsday scenario' if gardai were faced with having to man the border crossings after Brexit.

The 'Border Communities Against Brexit' (BCAB) group took their campaign all the way to London last week.

The award winning group were taking part in a conference entitled '(Re) Introducing the Irish border' at the University of London.

But the group said they wanted to use the opportunity to 'show the people of London what a hard border really looks like.'

'Boris's border in Boris's land is somewhere between fantasy and nightmare,' said a spokesman, referring to comments made by the British Foreign Secretary comparing the borders in London boroughs to that separating Ireland north and south.

BCAB are campaigning that Northern Ireland remains within the Customs Union and the Single Market to protect tens of thousand of jobs at risk, and to prevent our communities being divided by a hard border.

'The Good Friday Agreement clearly set out how Ireland is different in its citizenship, it 142 area's of cross border co-operation and the right of the majority of its citizens to decide on its political future, never mind that we have a 300 mile border with a EU member.

The (Re) Introducing The Irish Border conference was organised by Peter Leary, Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London and author of Unapproved Routes: histories of the Irish border.

The Argus

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