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Ross on Brexit: 'It's quite obvious now that there are going to be checks somewhere'

The Independent Alliance TD said the government “cannot give ground” over a hard Border, however.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has said it is “obvious” there will be custom checks after Brexit but that the government “cannot give ground” over the question of a hard Border with Northern Ireland. 

In January, there was widespread surprise after the Independent Alliance TD suggested that Border checks would be inevitable in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

At the time that Tánaiste Simon Coveney had to warn Ross not to discuss the possibility of Border checks in public for fear “that all of a sudden we’ll be the Government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland”.

Then, in July, Coveney indicated that checks on some goods imported from Northern Ireland will be necessary after a no-deal Brexit but insisted that there would no checks “on the Border or close to it”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Ross said: “I put my foot in it already by saying that checks were going to happen. Everyone took my head off and I was right.”

“I said it that day, and I was asked the question, I thought it was the honest reply, which it was. It was obvious.”

The TD admits that he “wasn’t very popular with my Fine Gael colleagues for saying it” but that “they were very good about it. They’d rather it was something I hadn’t said.

But, you know, it’s quite obvious now that there are going to be checks somewhere, where they are going to be I don’t know.

“There are obviously talks going on with the European Commission, and the European Commission, again, are going to have to be satisfied.”

“It is absolutely vital there is no hard border, that is so essential. That is something we cannot give ground on.”

Ross said that a recent explosion near the border in Co Fermanagh shows what could happen in the event of a hard Border. 

“That’s what maybe a hard border would provoke, something like that. Checks could be done in different ways. And there are all sorts of ingenious ideas being put forward for those checks.”

On Wednesday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson asked the Queen to suspend parliament from the second week in September until 14 October, less than two weeks before the UK is set to leave the European Union.

Following the move, thousands of people have taken to the streets of London and other cities to protest. 

Here at home, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said a request from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to recall the Dáil from its summer break will be “seriously considered”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One Donohoe on Wednesday said his focus is getting Ireland ready for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, reiterating that it is a growing, material risk. 

When asked if the developments in the UK will mean changes to the Irish backstop, the minister was clear, replying: “No.”

With reporting from Cónal Thomas

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