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Northern Ireland police will not staff border checkpoints, chief says

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Northern Ireland police will not staff border checkpoints, chief says
View of the border crossing between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland outside Newry, Northern Ireland, Britain, October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan   -   Copyright  LORRAINE O'SULLIVAN(Reuters)
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DUBLIN (Reuters) – The police in Northern Ireland will not staff border security after Brexit, the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s chief constable said on Thursday.

“We will of course police the border as normal. But if the underpinning assumption is that you will see armed officers effectively staffing checkpoints in various parts of the border area, no,” Simon Byrne said in comments reported by the Irish Times

“You’re not going to see lines of Land Rovers waving vehicles over with PSNI people checking documents, goods, the back of white vans and so on.”

The chief constable told a public meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board that he will ask the British government for 300 additional officers to bring the force’s strength to 7,500, at a cost of 40 million pounds ($49.31 million).

The extra officers are in addition to 200 officers who are expected to be in place by March. A further 200 are to be redeployed from other duties to Brexit-related operations.

Byrne also told the board members that he was clear with the Northern Ireland Office that it will not be up to the Police Service of Northern Ireland to staff any border security.

“We are clearly there to facilitate normality and day-to-day policing, but not to carry out custom checks and the function of other agencies in whatever proposal is or isn’t agreed in the next few weeks “ he said.

Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of October, but the two sides have not been able to agree the terms of their divorce. The biggest obstacle remains disagreement over how to keep open the border between Ireland, a member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, after Brexit.

(Reporting by Graham Fahy)

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