Serious challenges to policing post Brexit
The 'very serious challenge' that a post Brexit border could have on policing was highlighted at the annual cross border seminar on organised crime in Dundalk last week.
The event, which was held at the Crowne Plaza, involved the PSNI, Gardai, National Crime Agency, the Revenue Commissioners, HM Revenue and Customs and government departments.
Among the issues raised were emerging crime trends, money laundering, mobile organised crime groups, excise crime and drugs.
Senior officers from An Garda Siochana and the PSNI highlighted the potential challenges of any type of border being re-established.
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton warned that 'the more infrastructure there is at the border, the greater opportunities that creates' for violent dissident republicans and organised gangs involved in cross border crimes such as smuggling.
He said both police forces have been doing 'scenario planning' for post Brexit, but said he did not want to get into 'public hypothesis that will fuel the debate.'
However, he said that through the infrastructure created with the PSNI and Garda joint agency task force, there is already a 'thought through response (to Brexit) between the criminal justice system in the north and south.'
Also speaking at the conference,Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan warned that 'the imposition of a new range of physical border structures would give rise to a very serious challenge.'
He explained that 'North-South co-operation at the policy and operational levels in combating serious and organised crime must be a dynamic process having regard to the ease of movement within the Common Travel Area and the ever-evolving nature of the challenges that it continues to present to law enforcement authorities.
Minister Flanagan added: 'We cannot allow the great gains made in the Peace Process, particularly as regards the "open border" to be exploited by people who, motivated by amoral greed, operate outside the laws and norms or society, and, far worse, damage the very fabric of society by activities that have the potential to wreak havoc in the everyday lives of our people, particularly in communities where economic and social disadvantage exists.'
The Minister continued: 'Throughout the discussions on Brexit, the Irish Government has made clear its unshakable commitment to protecting the hard-won benefits of the peace process. We have made it abundantly clear that we do not want to see a hard border on the island of Ireland. It is our hope that in considering its approach to its withdrawal from the EU and the nature of its future relationship, that the UK will choose paths that facilitate the closest possible relationship between the UK and the EU, not least in the vitally important areas of police and judicial cooperation. The value of that cooperation is of special relevance in a Cross Border context, and the Irish Government is ready to work to ensure that the necessary legislative, administrative and resource allocation arrangements are in place to maintain the very effective levels of cooperation currently enjoyed. It is essential that we continue to sustain the peace and prosperity built up over recent decades.'