The UK must work closely with the Republic of Ireland to erect an invisible ‘fence’ around the British Isles to keep out the Jihadists of the Islamic State, a DUP MP has said.
Sammy Wilson, who raised the issue with the Prime Minister on Monday, said that David Cameron’s plans to keep Britain safe from such extremists would fail unless the Republic is involved.
On Monday Mr Cameron set out proposals for tougher orders on suspected terrorists and new powers for police to temporarily seize passports at UK borders. The Prime Minister told MPs that at least 500 people had travelled from Britain to fight in Iraq or Syria.
Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Wilson asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had had with Dublin about the proposals and asked if intelligence would be shared with the Republic, given that Northern Ireland shares an open land border with the Republic.
Mr Cameron said that it was “an important point” and added: “The relationship, including on policing, security and borders, between the British and Irish governments is probably stronger than it has been for many years, and we should build on that by discussing these measures with them and working together.”
Mr Wilson said that unless there was cooperation with Dublin, Northern Ireland could be left as a weak link in the UK’s defences.
The former Stormont finance minister told the News Letter that if the Government was “genuinely” wanting to secure the UK’s borders, then it had to work closely with the Dublin authorities.
“My preferred solution would be that they would work with the government in Dublin to ensure that they undertake the same kind of controls.
“That means they have to share all that intelligence with the government in Dublin and therefore the fence, so to speak, around the UK also includes the whole of Ireland.”
“The danger then is that if these restrictions only apply at ports and airports in Great Britain, you raise the question of having travel restrictions between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”
He said that any form of passport control between the Province and the mainland would be “totally unacceptable” as it would deprive British citizens on this side of the Irish Sea of their right to travel freely within their own nation.
Anti-terror plan ‘in disarray’
Labour has accused the Government of “disarray” over new anti-terror proposals, after differences emerged within the coalition over the plans.
The Prime Minister has said that officials are “working up” proposals to bar British extremists from returning to this country, and signalled he wanted to toughen terrorism prevention and investigation measures to restrict the activities of terror suspects who have not been convicted of any crime. Downing Street later admitted they were not certain excluding Britons from the country would be possible and the Liberal Democrats insisted they had not “definitively” signed up to the proposals.
Labour’s Yvette Cooper said that Mr Cameron had been “trying to make policy on the hoof for the sake of short-term headlines”.