UK border pass proposal is ‘very damaging’ to Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Michael Martin

The Irish Prime Minister has condemned UK Government plans which could see foreigners require an Electronic Travel Authorization Pass (ETA) when crossing the border.

The plan has proven controversial even though the UK government insists it will mean no border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin told an Irish parliamentary committee: ‘We are engaging with the UK government to try to change it to ensure it does not interfere with mobility on the island.

He said it “could be very detrimental” to Northern Ireland and its tourism industry, suggesting there is a “range of problems which have clearly not been foreseen”.

The border has proven to be a major sticking point in Brexit negotiations, as seamless movement between the two jurisdictions could be affected by the UK’s exit from the European Union.

This is not the first time that the Irish government has been alarmed by these projects.

Meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the plans will not affect the Common Travel Area (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, has said the proposals will not lead to border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He also stressed that the plan, contained in the Nationality and Borders Bill, will not impact the common travel area.

Nevertheless, some politicians and business representatives have warned that the plan, if carried out, could have a negative impact on Northern Ireland and mobility on the island.

Sinn Fein Senator Niall O Donnghaile told Mr Martin it was ‘crazy stuff’ and ‘out of the wall’.

Mr. Martin replied, “I agree. It’s hard to really understand from our point of view how this could be put on the table and I think it goes against the spirit of the Good Friday agreement.

He said the government was aware of the problem and would continue to engage with the UK.