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Archive pictures prove `a border long before any Troubles'

A spiked border crossing, before the Troubles

CLAIMS the Irish border was frictionless before the Troubles - when neither country was in the EU - have been dismissed by a pressure group showing pictures of a blocked road and passes.

Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) released images of "pre 1969" to show the outworkings of "different customs arrangements north/south".

It had been posted by advocates of a full severing of ties with the EU by Britain, that before the Troubles the border had been a `non-issue' on the island.

Most recently, Dutch customs expert Hans Maessen, who has advised the pro-Brexit ERG group of MPs, said the border was "a fictitious problem".

He claims a new customs system could be implemented during the 21-month transition period after Brexit, including comprehensive use of electronic declarations, use of customs brokers and HMRC carrying out customs inspection at company premises.

It is generally regarded that the border hardened during the Troubles, with checkpoints and watchtowers set up and the boundary virtually impassable.

"Border roads where spiked in most cases, the image sets straight the lie that is being propagated in the media that the border was closed due to the troubles," Damian McGenity, BCAB coordinator said.

"It was not. Pre 1969 border roads were closed/spiked due to different customs arrangements north/south. This was done right along the border.

"The Concession Pass this one dated October 1969 (pre Troubles) was issued to allow crossing of the border by an approved route."

The pass reads: `Merchandise or goods of any kind may not be carried in the course of journeys... except professional instruments or workmen's tools.'

"The lady to whom this pass was issued was a professional worker crossing from north to south," Mr McGenity said.

"There was also specific times allowing to cross. This proves that there were customs controls in Ireland - a border long before any `troubles'.

"These were very restrictive arrangements with tales told in every house of how clothes, eggs, butter etc etc were taken off locals.

"Those flouting their concession passes would have had them removed which left travelling to work impossible."

An outworking of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement saw border crossings removed and free movement reinstated between north and south.

There are more than 250 roads that cross the border as of 2018, with millions of people crossing monthly.

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