Brexit

Former Irish diplomat warns of customs posts after Brexit

Anti-Brexit campaigners protesting outside Stormont last month. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

A FORMER senior Irish diplomat has warned that Ireland is facing the re-introduction of customs posts along the border following Brexit.

Ray Bassett, a former Irish ambassador to Canada who was involved in the Good Friday Agreement talks, said the European Union's draft negotiating guidelines will mean a 'hard border', including customs posts.

Writing in The Sunday Business Post yesterday, Mr Bassett said European President Donald Tusk's insistence that any new border arrangement respects EU law is at odds with his claims that the peace process should be supported.

"If the guidelines stay as they are now, we will have a new customs border in Ireland, something that the Irish government has tried to rule out," Mr Bassett wrote.

"That position is simply not consistent with Tusk's draft guidelines.

"The decision will now move on to the type of border and how hard or soft to make it compliant with EU requirements.

"However, there is a strong feeling in this country that any form of border in Ireland should be hugely resisted.

"Irish people have gotten used to the present arrangements and re-imposing of fixed structures along the border will endanger the progress of recent years."

After British Prime Minister Theresa May last month triggered Article 50 - the process by which the UK will leave the EU - Mr Tusk said Europe "will seek flexible and creative solutions aiming at avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland".

"It is of crucial importance to support the peace process in Northern Ireland," he said.

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