Ireland’s tax chief is “almost 100% certain” there will be no new customs posts along the Irish border after Brexit.
Niall Cody, chairman of Revenue Commissioners, categorically rejected reports that it was actively looking for locations to establish new checkpoints.
The speculation, which he blamed on an early contingency paper from a “medium ranking” official, has led to landowners along the Irish border directly offering him sites for sale.
But Mr Cody told a parliamentary committee in Dublin: “We are not planning customs posts.”
The 310-mile border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will become an EU/UK frontier after Britain pulls out of the EU.
A hardening of the border, which has become virtually invisible as a result of Ireland’s peace process, could threaten peace and prosperity on the island, it has been warned.
However, Mr Cody said an ongoing analysis of cross-border trade increasingly shows that most goods transported between the jurisdictions will not need to be physically checked.
Much of it is agri-food and construction related, and can be documented online.
There are also existing Revenue offices in border counties where traders can carry out their necessary paperwork.
“I’m practically 100% certain we will not be providing new trade facilitation bays in whatever parts of Donegal, Monaghan or Cavan,” he said, referring to a number of the border counties.
Mr Cody also told the parliamentary committee that Revenue is not negotiating with HM Revenue and Customs in Britain on post-Brexit arrangements.
It was assessing all the implications and options, while upgrading its IT systems and recruiting more staff, as it prepared for the outcome of the political negotiations, he said.