Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick has urged the government to consider deploying the army along the border to stop non-essential travel from the north to the south and vice versa. In response to Deputy Fitzpatrick An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stated categorically that this would not be happening.
“We need to protect our people and businesses. IWe have a serious issue at the moment. Everything the Tánaiste told me indicates that we need to do something across the Border. I come from Dundalk. What will happen on Friday in the North if they start opening pubs and restaurants? People will travel from the South across the Border and vice versa. That will cause serious problems. We must do something about it,” stated Deputy Fitzpatrick speaking in the Dáil last Thursday.
“From Omeath to Cullaville, there are approximately 30 Border crossings. It is impossible to put checkpoints along the Border to stop people crossing it. As an ex-soldier of the 27th Battalion, I think it is about time we started to use the Army. There is a barracks in Dundalk with 450 soldiers. Why not deploy them in Border areas? Donegal is in a serious situation. Louth, Cavan and Monaghan have done a fantastic job over the past three or four weeks. Is that just going to be flushed down the toilet? We have to be realistic. I wish to see a united Ireland, but I do not wish to see a united Ireland right now. At the moment, my first priority is for the citizens of Ireland to be protected. The Government has to protect them.
“We are in a second lockdown. The way things are going, there will be a third lockdown. I know and the Tánaiste knows that we do not wish to see a third lockdown. Prevention is the best cure. We have an opportunity to do something. The Government should get the Army out to stop the southerners and the northerners crossing up and down the Border. There is no problem with people who have to travel, but I have seen this situation develop in recent months and I do not like it. The situation is being abused. The freedom to travel is being abused in Border areas such as Omeath and Carlingford by northerners who are coming down to the South. The number of Northern number plates I have seen is unreal. I ask the Tánaiste to do something to protect the citizens of Ireland, please,” concluded Peter.
In response to Deputy Fitzpatrick’s call for the army to be deployed along the border An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stated categorically that this would not be happening.
“The Government is not giving any consideration to putting the Army on the Border between the North and the South. We struggled and fought too hard for too many decades to take all armies off the Border and we certainly do not want to be the jurisdiction that puts uniforms on the Border again,” insisted Vardakar.
“That is not something to which we are giving consideration. The point raised by the Deputy is a serious one. The situation in Northern Ireland is much more serious than the situation here. There is a very significant reservoir of infection in Northern Ireland and people travelling to and from Northern Ireland create a real risk. We need to enforce the 5 km rule, but that is best done by the Garda rather than by military means,” concluded the former Taoiseach.