Hard border ‘far from inevitable’

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaking at the second All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Dublin Castle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 17, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams speaking at the second All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at Dublin Castle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 17, 2017. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The DUP’s Sammy Wilson has criticised Gerry Adams for his hypocrisy after comments that a post-Brexit hard border is inevitable.

Mr Adams told a Brexit summit at Dublin Castle a hard border dividing Ireland is inevitable unless a special EU status is secured for Northern Ireland.

Mr Wilson responded: “Gerry Adams has some cheek to talk about a hard border. The time of the most border checks was when Gerry Adams’s IRA were carrying out their murder campaign.

“It was a far harder border during that time because of the IRA’s terror campaign.”

He continued: “He’s talking through his backside when he says a hard border is inevitable. There’s nothing inevitable about it.

“First of all the British Government said it doesn’t want a hard border.

“Secondly the Irish Government said they don’t want a hard border.

“Then when you look at the actual evidence it shows that there is no need for hard borders between countries who are in and countries who are out of the single market and customs union.”

He gave the examples of Norway, Switzerland and Gibraltar and the absence of hard borders with neighbouring countries with differing trade agreements.

At the Brexit summit, which was not attended by the DUP, the Sinn Fein president said the Irish Government’s refusal to back widespread calls to negotiate a special status is a “grave mistake”.

“Without such a designation a hard border is inevitable,” he told the all-island civic dialogue forum.

The summit is the second all-island gathering hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to help form Ireland’s response to Britain’s decision to pull out of the EU.

“The Irish Government will oppose a hard border, argue for free movement on this island, seek EU funding for cross-border projects and protect the rights of EU citizens, whether from North or South,” insisted Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach’s minority Fine Gael-led government is opposed to a special EU status for Northern Ireland, warning it could set a precedent that would worry other European countries.

But Micheal Martin, leader of Fianna Fail, the main opposition party, said Northern Ireland is a special case.

“If the UK Government will not propose (a special status for Northern Ireland), then it is our job to propose ways forward. Given just the fact that Northern Ireland will contain the largest concentration of EU citizens outside of the EU, it is different,” he told the gathering.