There is widespread shock this morning in Ireland and across Europe as the news breaks that the British Government has effectively overnight closed and sealed the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.The Dáil has recalled all TDs from their Easter break with an emergency Parliamentary session scheduled to get underway at 9.30am this morning.
The British European delegation, led by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnston, stormed out of a Brexit meeting in Brussels just before midnight last night. A fuming Johnston said to the waiting media, "If its hardball they want to play they can have it. Let's see how a now inevitable hard Brexit will suit them."
Earlier in the crisis meeting he had laid the blame for a possible hard Brexit at the door of Ireland saying that at every step they had sought to block progress and place 'unnecessary obstacles in the UK's path'.
He launched a scathing personal attack on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar whom he said 'was no friend of Britain and had sought to undermine the UK at every stage.'
An emergency meeting of the British COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) started at 1.30am and the first of many actions, closing the border, got underway at 3.45am this morning.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), supported by the military, have started to seal the border. Already the Newry/Dundalk, Blacklion/Belcoo (Enniskillen) and the Letterkenny/Derry crossings have been closed.
Small tailbacks have been reported however these are expected to increase rapidly as daylight breaks and traffic flow increases.
Other border points are being closed in a roll out of the inflammatory action and are being monitored by roving PSNI patrols.Searched
A PSNI statement advises that all vehicles, private and commercial, will be searched for 'illegal' produce being brought into Northern Ireland. All documents will be thoroughly examined and verified before the occupants are permitted to enter the jurisdiction.
These checks include a valid ID for every occupant, in the case of the driver, a valid driver's licence, current insurance certificate, NCT document, logbook and road tax disc.
It is reported that inspecting each vehicle is taking over 30 minutes
Heavy duty trucks will be subject to stringent checks before a crossing is allowed. More details later.
The PSNI in operation this morning outside Newry.
The British Parliament is currently in session and further measures are expected to be announced later. Some prominent political correspondents are reporting that by noon the Government will abolish the Northern Irish Assembly at Stormont, with power returning to Westminster.
Noted EU media official Ferdinand Wattceaf said, "What else would people expect, they have not met since January 2017, with civil servants left to run the system with no budgetary allowance implemented. Incredibly the Assembly Members are still being paid salaries and expences for doing nothing! A senior MP said this stupidity will come to an end later today."
Bosis Johnston stated in the past 15 minutes that the closure was proceeding as planned and as hundreds of UK Border Agents, now en route from various locations, are in place 'will show Europe and Ireland that we mean business'.
He added, "Today, the 1st of April 2018, will go down in history as the day Britain said enough is enough, we do not need Europe we have our Commonwealth".
6.29am: The British Government has just announced that it is suspending the seven Sinn Fein abstentionist MPs from Parliament. All pay and expences will cease at 10am this morning.
Finance Committee Chairman Nigel Rootchue MP said "These people have never taken their seats and yet they expect us to pay them salaries and expences, ludicrous! Its like an April Fool's joke, well its stopped now. Better late than never".More follows.....