‘Ireland Has To Go Back To The Borders Of The Past’


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Earlier today.

At the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Northern Down Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon (top) asks Michael Lux (above), an EU customs and international trade lawyer, about Northern Ireland’s future land border with the Republic of Ireland post Brexit.

During her questioning, Ms Hermon recalled the UK prime minister Theresa May’s visit to Dublin on Monday and her stating that both the UK and Irish governments want a “seamless, frictionless border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

She also asked Mr Lux if he had ever visited the south Armagh border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. He hadn’t.

Further to this…

Syliva Hermon: “I just understood, from your earlier evidence that you, in fact, referred to ‘officials at the Border, officials at the Border’. The difficulty is: we don’t have officials at the Border. And according to the prime minister [Theresa May], we are not going back to the borders of the past.”

Michael Lux: “Yes, but Ireland has to do so. What you do on your side, okay, that’s up to you. If you feel that you don’t need to control the goods which are entering Northern Ireland and have to recover VAT and customs duties and excise duties, you are, of course, free not to do that. But Ireland is obliged to do this.”

Hermon: “So, how could, how could the prime minister achieve a seamless, frictionless border? Is it achievable?”

Lux: “Well, it depends how you define the term seamless. If you define the term ‘seamless’, that there are no border controls, the answer is no. At least for the side of Ireland because Ireland is obliged to apply the [European] Union law.”

Hermon: “I think what I’m also asking is the fact are, will the UK be required to have checkpoints and checks on goods, commercial goods, people?”


Lux:If Northern Ireland remains in the customs union, then all these issues don’t arise. If Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU customs union, then this is an official customs border of the EU and then Ireland is obliged to apply all these rules.”


Watch back in full here

Thanks Brian Sammon

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37 thoughts on “‘Ireland Has To Go Back To The Borders Of The Past’

    1. Fact Checker

      Smart unionists (and Hermon is one) realised that the union is more viable with the UK INSIDE the EU. She made these concerns clear before the referendum too: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-36503633

      I can not for the life of me understand why the DUP was so pro-Brexit.

      One pound in 40 of all economic activity in Northern Ireland comes is direct spending from the EU budget by the way. I have never seen anyone in the Northern debate acknowledge this, or suggest what will substitute for it.

        1. Fact Checker

          Agreed. It is all about culture and identity.

          I still don’t understand why the DUP took a position that made the status quo less viable.

          1. Ivor

            Remember that for years, the DUP founder – Ian Paisley – promoted the idea it was the vehicle of the anti-Christ and a sign of the end times.

            Rational does not come in to it.

    1. Rob_G

      Why would the other EU member states wish to amend laws that would make it easier to leave the EU? Particularly those countries that have sizeable anti-EU parties themselves; they will want to make Brexit as hard and painful as possible to discourage anyone else from leaving.

      1. classter

        The EU would be well advised to think carefully before casually using Ireland & the border as a negotiating tool.

          1. Rob_G

            Wha’? – if there was any whiff of Ireland leaving the EU, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn et. al. would be gone in a heartbeat. The electorate knows this, which is why we have seen little popular Eurosceptic sentiment here.

  1. Cot

    In the 1980s there were garda custom posts, but they were usually empty. When they weren’t empty they were staffed by disinterested gardai eating donuts or picking and eating their snot. It’s more how the British will manage their side of the border that matters, and I’d say they won’t give a crap. They’d dump NI tom. if they could.

    1. Rob_G

      There were no doughnuts in Ireland until the 90s, and I have never seen Gardaí eating them (they are mad for rolls from Spar, though).

        1. martco

          yes toenail doughnuts and some of that coffee Baldrick style too

          ah 80’s food
          anyone remember fancy delicacies like grilled grapefruits or mandarin segments served up in a silver coope?

    2. Vote Rep #1

      Its almost as if things have changed since the 80s. No you are right, customs officials are exactly the same now as they were back in whenever you say. They have no issue in people, drugs, weapons, smokes and other things just magicking themselves into the country.

  2. DubLoony

    I wonder if this isn’t a cunning plan by the English to rid themselves of NI for good?

    Without NI, they’d have an extra 8-12bn a year, no annual marching season row, free from ever present history. Bliss from their point of view.

    1. Cot

      Exactly. Westminster would dump NI in a heartbeat. However, the GB security apparatus would fight tooth and nail to keep NI.

        1. Cot

          They’ve always used it as a laboratory for themselves, what they learned in NI they used on the Miners Strike, in Iraq, etc. It also provides them with a budget that Westminster can’t control. Plus, the Empire brigade are heavily represented in the security apparatus, they want to hang on to one of their last colonies.

          1. DubLoony

            Peace process freed up 30,000 troops from NI to go on Middle Eastern adventures. Think they have learned all they can from NI.
            Other than a source of cannon fodder, doubt they have any real reason to keep it.

          2. Cot

            Yeah, it did free up a lot of soldiers. But, there’s still a hardcore group that see NI as the last frontier of the British Empire. They’ll fight very hard to keep it. Hopefully Westminster will get the upper hand on them, but it’s consistently failed to do so.

          3. Cot

            I’d like to believe that argument wasn’t valid anymore, but there’s a lot of dinosaurs in the GB security services. The Castlereagh Break In, etc., there hasn’t been a proper inquiry into Loyalist-Security Forces collusion, etc. The politicians still haven’t got the upper hand on the security apparatus, and in fairness, many of the Westminster politicians want to disarm them. It’ll take time.

  3. bisted

    …Michael Lux slipped up when Sylvia Herman asked him if he had ever visited the South Armagh border…he should have asked her had she…

  4. Micheál

    Well duh! Anyone who thinks that the border will be anything other than substantial is kidding themselves and lying to everyone else. It’s will be a border between the EU and a country outside the EU. Pronouncements from Enda and T. May mean nothing as they won’t have the final say on what happens on the Irish side. The amount of guff being talked about the issue is nauseating.

    1. Sam

      Y’know, Norway isn’t in the EU either… but they’re in the European Free Trade Area, so a member of the customs union. The UK could opt for a similar arrangement, and Ireland wouldn’t be obliged to put in any customs border.

  5. No more mr nice guy

    If true and I suspect it is it really shows up how usual and exactly average our current crop of leaders are. No doubt Enda will come out tomorrow and decry mr Lux for his populism ;)

  6. Truth in the News

    The Border will end up in the Irish Sea, the British nor the Irish will man, manage and police
    a land border that as such exists between north and south, they reality is that it would cost
    more than the revenue collected, and lookingat the demography in the north, it would be a waste
    of time, as the game is up, the whole northern Ireland political structure has less than 15 years
    to run……the British are no going to fund the North much longer……in fact the tipping point may
    be close…..they have kicked up about around 10 billion to the Eu…..when will Scotland and the
    North come into their sights.

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