UK-Ireland border checks restored

July 25th, 2008 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 25 (IANS) The UK and Ireland have agreed to restore passport checks on their borders for the first time since the 1920s. The move is triggered by fears of the free borders being exploited by terrorists, smugglers and illegal immigrants.

Foreign travellers will have their passports checked while citizens of both countries will have to prove their identities, according to the new rules. Vehicles near the borders will also be spot checked.

The new controls will be phased in over the next six years. They are being brought in as Britain overhauls its system of immigration checks, including the introduction of its e-Borders programme screening all new arrivals to the UK, The Independent reported.

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, and Dermot Ahern, the Irish justice minister, said in a joint statement: “It is crucial our two countries work closely together to ensure our borders are stronger than ever.”

The plans do not cover travel between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK, which is still being examined by the Home Office with a view to announcing proposals by the end of the year.

The Common Travel Area was set up in 1925 after Ireland gained independence and remained in force during the next three decades.

Nearly 16 million passengers travelled between Ireland and the UK, and the Crown Dependencies, in 2006.

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