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UK-IRISH REPUBLIC TRAVEL

Passport-free travel between UK, Irish Republic to end

30 October 2007

The United Kingdom and Irish Republic are to end the system of passport-free travel between the two countries.

The passport-free travel arrangement between the two states has been in existence since the foundation of the Irish Free State in the early 1920s.

The stopping of the Common Travel Area between Britain and the Irish Republic is a part of London’s plan to set up electronic border controls by 2009, media reports said.

The free movement of people between Ireland and Britain has survived centuries of tension and even terrorism.

Dublin is expected to follow suit with its own electronic border controls to track terrorist suspects, criminals, and illegal immigrants.

However, a passport would not be required for travel between the British-administered Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Though people have been able to travel freely between the Irish Republic and the United Kingdom without any documents since 1922, low-cost airlines like Ryanair have insisted on photo identification since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, told reporters that “it was now only sensible for the Republic to follow Britain’s example and introduce similar security.”

The new border controls will collect and analyze passenger information, much of it in advance of travel, similar to the controls that already exist in the United States.

Bertie Ahern said British officials were keeping the Irish Government fully informed of their plans and that he sees it “as an opportunity for deeper cooperation, rather than the opposite.”

However, media reports quoted an observer as saying that the new security measures mark a fundamental change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic and “raises awkward questions about the status of the Irish border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.”

The only international land border of the United Kingdom is crisscrossed by narrow country lanes. And, this international land border occasionally passes through the middle of villages and even buildings, potentially creating huge security concerns.

This problem was, however, solved during the so-called Troubles by the Army by putting craters in many border roads and erecting guard points at major crossing points.

Reports quoted Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern as saying: “The British authorities have no plans whatsoever to introduce any controls on the land border between the North and South. I want to make that clear. All they are looking at is increased cross-border cooperation, targeting illegal immigrants.”
 


 

 
         
 

 

 

 

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