Unionists claim Brexit contingency plans expose hard border myth
SAMMY Wilson has claimed the Irish government's contingency planning for a no deal Brexit has left "those who fell for the hard border con trick with egg all over their red-faces".
The DUP Brexit spokesman said the absence of potential measures for dealing with a hard border in Dublin's Contingency Action Plan confirmed speculation that talks of future checks along the north-south frontier were "nothing short of a Dublin conceived and Brussels delivered mirage".
Plans outlined by the Republic's government this week included the purchase of land at Dublin Port to accommodate hundreds of trucks from Britain awaiting inspection after Brexit.
However, there was no mention of provisions for a hard border.
"Evidently, the Republic of Ireland has always recognised that no hard border would be erected - what they really wanted however was that the disruption to trade be kept inside the United Kingdom," Mr Wilson said.
The East Antrim MP said the "impossibility of a hard border" had been further reinforced by revelations that an Irish Army survey had unearthed substantially more crossing routes than previously thought.
"Within a year, they found they had missed 100 of them on their last survey - if they can't find roads what chance do they have of finding underground tunnels that smugglers might use to avoid the so-called hard border," he said.
"This Irish government report must leave those who fell for the hard border con trick with egg all over their red-faces."
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Reg Empey said the UK's withdrawal from the EU would create problems for businesses but he argued the focus on the border in Ireland was "totally out of proportion to the problem".
He said it would fuel suspicion that the border was being used by Brussels as a "point of leverage to pressurise the UK government".
"The proposed backstop is a sledgehammer to crack a nut," the former UUP leader said.
"London should never have agreed to the sequencing proposal from the EU in the first place - to agree a deal on the border and a deal on finance before the terms of trade were discussed was madness and has led to this mess we are in today."
He said the publicity surrounding preparations for a no deal Brexit, particularly in the Republic, prompted him to think that those who failed to accept the UK's decision to leave the EU had "brought this crisis upon themselves".
Lord Empey accused the Department of Foreign Affairs of displaying a "dark green tendency".
"I can't help observing that had Dublin engaged in a more consensual approach, rather than what can only be described as a confrontational approach, there would have been no need for crisis preparations - the answer to these problems lies on the island," he said.