British Legislation Threatens Imposition Of A Stop-And-Search Zone Along The UK Border In Ireland

So much for the repeated claims by Theresa May’s Conservative Party government in the United Kingdom that her nation remains committed to the now decades’ old Irish-British peace process, no matter what difficulties or challenges emerge from the UK’s fractious exit negotiations with the European Union. Draft legislation currently passing through the committee stages in the House of Commons makes it clear that Britain intends to impose new post-Brexit security measures along the formerly militarised frontier around its legacy colony on the island of Ireland. These include the creation of a 1.6 kilometre deep stop-and-search zone north of the disputed border, taking in a number of rural towns and villages.

From a Home Office fact sheet on the proposed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018:

• The Bill will confer powers on examining officers (the police and designated immigration and customs officers) to stop, question, search and detain individuals at the UK border to determine whether they appear to be a person who is, or has been, engaged in hostile activity

In what circumstances may someone be stopped and questioned at the border?

• An examining officer will be able to stop, question, search and detain a person at the border for the purpose of determining whether he or she appears to be a person who is, or has been, engaged in hostile activity. Hostile activity for these purposes covers the commission, preparation or instigation of a hostile act that is or may be carried out for, or on behalf of, a State other than the UK, or otherwise in the interests of a State other than the UK.

What constitutes a “hostile act”?

• A hostile act for these purposes is one that threatens national security, threatens the economic well-being of the UK, or is an act of serious crime.
• The act must also be linked to a foreign state, as outlined above. Who will be able to exercise this power?
• Only appropriately trained and accredited police, immigration and customs officers will be able to use this power.

Will this measure apply across the United Kingdom?

• This provision will apply across the United Kingdom and could be used at any port or airport, within one mile of the Northern Ireland land border and at the first place at which a train travelling from the Republic of Ireland stops in Northern Ireland where passengers may leave the train.

These measures, the detention and questioning of people crossing or living near the partition line separating the north-eastern Six Counties from the rest of Ireland, would be a drastic reversion to the type of “policing” that London tried – and failed – to enforce in the region during the so-called Irish-British Troubles of 1966 to 2005. In a very real and very tangible sense, it would be a visible repudiation of several key aspects of the complex and multifaceted peace settlement which ended an otherwise stalemated and seemingly unending conflict.

As I pointed out elsewhere, the imposition of a new UK frontier in Ireland would require British customs officers to guard the border. And British police officers to guard the customs officers guarding the border. And British soldiers to guard the police officers guarding the customs officers guarding the border. Then we may forget about a stop-and-search zone and instead contemplate the return of no-go zones.

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4 comments

  1. Is this really as awful as you’re making out, or are you just talking-up perfectly ‘normal’ customs checks, such as take place at international borders all around the world? After all, you have no wish to rejoin the UK, so once the UK leaves the EU from a customs officer’s POV you become a ‘foreign place’.
    As a kid I visited Ireland way way back in the day, probably around the early ’60s, a few years before the riots etc broke out in the north (and the rest is now ‘history’). It was a perfectly normal customs check, with some folk being asked to open their bags and a garda/policeman standing by the exit door. No soldiers, no obvious guns. So why should that be an issue unless you (i.e. the Irish) want to make it one? Surely it’s simply the price you pay for your independence?

    1. Read what the Good Friday Agreement says about the border.

      And the only reason it is an issue is that the British want to make it one by leaving the EU.

    2. But the demarcation line around the north is not a normal international border, as found elsewhere in Europe or North America. Through the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement the UK has acknowledged this. Its near unique status is an outcome of the peace process: creating a non-border border. One with, in the main, no checks, no customs, no visible sign of its presence in many areas. Now the UK is suggesting changing that dynamic, putting in place something that barely existed even during the Troubles when the British Forces spent most of their tours sitting inside blast proof border bunkers and bases, simply wanting to go home.

      What do you think the reaction will be along the border if these proposals become law?

    3. There already is a border between your country Britain and our country Ireland – so, all that needs to happen is that you British expand the existing checks at your ports for all destinations in Ireland.

      This protects the integrity of the GFA and keeps the status quo as to the current arrangements in our country in the movement of people, goods and services.

      A win-win all around.

      Surely it’s simply the price you pay for your independence.

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