Updated: 03/02/17 : 05:12:38
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Dáil told Hard Brexit' border controls 'will wreck' the North's fragile peace

A 'hard Brexit' inevitably means the return of border controls which “will wreck” the North’s fragile peace, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry said a former head of EU customs services had publicly warned that security huts would be required along the border, despite widespread use of electronic surveillance for new post-Brexit customs controls.

The Sligo TD heavily criticised government lack of preparation and demanded the appointment of a dedicated Brexit Minister and publication of a plan to handle negotiations between London and Dublin and the EU and Ireland.

“Brexit has the potential to wreck the Northern Ireland peace process, to wreck the Good Friday Agreement,” he said, calling for special EU status for the North.

Independent.ie reported that Mr MacSharry said Irish people had to wait to hear news from the British parliament on the border issue. He said the former EU customs boss, Michael Lux, had told a Westminster committee that border controls could not be avoided.

Replying for the Government, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, said it was wrong for the main opposition party to be damaging Ireland’s international reputation by claiming the Government was badly prepared.

Ms Fitzgerald said there were enormous challenges ahead and preparations would continue with ongoing meetings. She will meet British Home Secretary Amber Rudd next Monday for talks.

The Tánaiste said the Taoiseach was coordinating the government response himself and all ministers and officials were engaged. She said the issue of the North and the Border are being addressed and EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had identified it as one of his four priorities.