Brexit: Republic of Ireland ‘ill-equipped’ for border

A former customs officer in Donegal has warned that the Irish authorities are ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with border checks after Brexit.

Eamon O’Farrell, who spent 30 years patrolling the Derry and Tyrone border, said he was very concerned.

“The problem is not going to be on the main roads, it’s going to be on the hundreds of unapproved roads,” he said.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that up to 600 border crossing goods vehicles will have to be inspected daily.

That would be the equivalent of about 8% of all freight and would be checked at so called “trade facilitation posts” around ten miles back from the border.

“I cannot figure out how they’re going to do this with the resources that I understand they have,” Mr O’Farrell told BBC Radio Foyle.

“You wouldn’t get 12 people across the whole border who know where the actual border is. We’re talking about the revenue risk, tax evasion, various types of smuggling – goods and people.

“Donegal has about 75 roads, at least, but there’s also 70 to 80 crossing points all round the coast where people can be smuggled,” he said.

‘Flag waving bluff’

Earlier this month, figures released by the Department of Justice showed that over the past four months the number of community guards in Donegal has fallen from 21 to just 2.

The Association of Garda Superintendents and members of the Garda Representative Association have previously raised concerns that they are under resourced to deal with border crime post Brexit.

“The Gardaí (Irish police) are desperately overstretched by the looks of it so, as far as I’m concerned, a proper customs service is required, not flag waving and bluff like we had before,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“It’s about a committed professional, numerically adequate patrol service to be back on the border if they want to do anything about it.

“Patrolling of a border will be necessary no matter what kind of Brexit you have.”

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