back to article E-borders kills off UK-Ireland passport free travel

The UK's implementation of an electronic borders system by 2009 will mean the end of the UK-Republic of Ireland Common Travel Area, which allows passport-free travel between the two countries. The move will not however lead to the introduction of border controls on the Republic's land border with Northern Ireland, but will lead …


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  1. Rich Harding

    UK is a joke

    Get out of your stupid little islander mentality, for heaven's sake. I flew in a competition in the South of France earlier this year, rode down on my motorbike, through Belgium and Luxembourg. Did I ever have to show my passport? Did I hell. I sing occasionally in a band in Norway, which isn't even in the EU. Do I have to even show my passport to fly there and back from the Netherlands? Do I hell (that'll be the Schengen agreement, for those wondering).

    Cut the paranoia and grow up. If you already have, bash some bloody sense into your fellow countrymen.

  2. Jason Croghan

    Utterly impractical to operate border checks on it?

    'The land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is however so complex and frequently used that it would be utterly impractical to operate border checks on it, even if these were politically acceptable.'

    Are you forgetting they used to do just this on every single entrance to the north during the troubles? Or does that not count as a border check?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "Passport" check to travel from NI to the rest of the U.K......!!!!

    I'm in Belfast now and I swear that rumble I can hear is Ian Paisley warming up his larynx.

  4. Tony Humphreys
    Thumb Down

    Am I missing something

    After the years of bitching between the UK and Ireland, and years of border control being the appropriate accent and a rather successful security service on both sides resulting in not one recallable problem, we now need such measures.

    WHY! WTF is going on now. I though the EU was to remove barriers not add ones where not needed or wanted.

    So, can we have duty free back then. Though not - all one way eh.

    Governments - you are in for a shock when the people get fed up of all this dictating.

  5. Neil Hoskins


    About time too. They're still allowed to vote in our elections, though.

  6. Martin Gregorie Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    A loophole you can drive a car through?

    If UK style e-Borders is going to apply to planes and ferrys, why are they leaving Eurostar unchecked?

    If, as is suggested, e-Borders will also cover cross-border travel within continental Europe, its hard to imagine anything as stupid as pissing off air travelers while missing the chance to be an Equal Opportunity Annoyance by bothering road, rail and water traffic.

  7. Campbell


    One thing that escapes me with this whole security and advance lists thing is who or what gives the Powers That Be the notion that terrorists will be travelling using their OWN name and with their OWN, non-forged, documents.


    How fucking naive is that. This is needless harassment of the common people and Tony is right, but the shock will come when the guillotines arrive from France.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    To Jason Croghan


    They might have thrown up security check points ("Open your boot mate"), through most times you were waved through. There also used to be an Irish customs official dozing in a chair south of the border untill 1992, but I can assure you there have never been "border checks" in my 46 years on this island.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Yet another box ticked...

    Pervasive surveillance... check

    Encouragement to denounce others... check

    Constant implication that disagreeing with the Government is treasonous... check

    Constant hyping of imaginary threats... check

    And now, internal passports... check

    Welcome to the totalitarian state. Is this what we won the Cold War for?

    Posting as AC to give me a couple of milliseconds' head start on the Black Helicopters...

  10. Robert Long

    @Jason Croghan

    I never saw a single security check on the NI/RoI border through the whole of the troubles.

  11. Steve Kelly

    @To Jason Croghan

    Ummm ever been at the Newry border, the checkpoint is still mostly there just unmanned, i remember having to take country roads to cross the border to do the lotto :)

  12. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    @Neil Hoskins

    Are you saying that Irish people are able to vote in English elections, or English people being able to vote in Irish elections?

    Because both are true you know.

  13. Dave Moffatt

    Oh for christ's sake

    Just join Schengen already! We are supposed to be one europe lets get our shit together and fucking act like one!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Bye bye

    Thankfully I'll be leaving the UK in a few weeks. I won't be coming back if I can help it.

  15. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)


    Happy biker Rich had maybe better enjoy himself while he can, because the intentions of the EU Justice & Home Affairs Council are clear, not least in its own documentation. For internal flights within the Schengen area, some biographical information is already gathered by the airline, and as the EU's own PNR system is implemented and extended, more information will be collected and will, by law, be passed on to the authorities. If and when Europe implements its version of the US ETA system, this will extend (if it follows the US model closely) to 'clear to fly' permission being granted by the authorities prior to departure.

    There is no need for a passport in any of that, and it is all being planned fro implementation within the Schengen area. An EU standard machine readable ID card might play a part in subsequent systems, but that's probably some way off yet.

    Whatever, don't go kidding yourself it's all cool freedom of movement in Schengen and Stasi City in the UK. Mind you, I accept it may take them a while longer to start keeping track of the bikers. Anybody for satellite vehicle tracking and ID?

    John Lettice

    PS Martin - They are doing checks on passports on Eurostar now. Last time I came through Paris the UK team stationed there was even giving non-EU passport holders a hard time. Don't know if that was an isolated attack of zeal or the new standard approach to encouraging tourism...

  16. Reginald Perrin
    Thumb Down


    I lived near the border throughout "the troubles", went back and forth across the border every couple of weeks and then back and forth to England as I went to University and then to work. I was asked for a driving licence very occasionally.

    Now, we're all peaceful and getting along together, I have to show my passport?

    What a bunch of idiots.

  17. Paul

    Remind me again why being part of the UK is supposedly so great?

    The whole thing is ludicrous and a step backwards, no doubt cunningly designed to force more people to obtain passports/ID cards and hence find their way onto the Big UK Database of Everyone Ever.

    @Jason Croghan: "Are you forgetting they used to do just this on every single entrance to the north during the troubles? Or does that not count as a border check?"

    Nah, they didn't cover every area. A few of the major roads, like the A1 just south of Newry they had great big structures with stoplights, gates, submachinegun-toting squaddies and speed bumps, and a no-mans-land of sorts between there and the "south" proper, though most times you just got waved on through anyway, in either direction. Most of the back roads were unmanned, you wouldn't even know you'd crossed a border until the road signs changed.

    Security theatre at it's finest!

    @Neil Hoskins: "They're still allowed to vote in our elections, though."

    Not in any worthwhile way, since none of the parties that can be voted for have any real influence over the UK election results, or policy making, unless the Parliamentary majority is so slim that the govt. really needs to scrape the barrel for votes in a crucial debate, then you see them go crawling to Paisley, Adams and co. with the begging bowl outstretched. They usually have to be pretty desperate before they'll do that, though. Can't say I blame them, actually.

    By contrast, the folks in NI have to live with *every* stupid brain-dead decision made by a government that *you* got to vote for, but they didn't have any influence in electing. Disenfranchised? You bet!

    Makes me wonder what all the fuss is about staying part of the UK, though my personal preference would be for *England* to declare independence and leave the rest of the UK the feck alone for a change! :)

  18. billyghoti

    Nonsense Steve

    To Steve Kelly:

    Posted Thursday 25th October 2007 19:49 GMT

    I drove from Belfast to Dundalk just last Monday ...... there's a dual carriageway/motorway there now. No buildings, no checkpoints on it at all from the Meigh roundabout straight through to N. Dublin.

    BTW, when I wanted to do the Irish Lottery, I gave my local newsagent, in Belfast, the money + an extra 50p and he bought my ticket in Omeath along with all the others. He runs a nice little earner of a sideline.

  19. Bob Jones
    Black Helicopters

    Nu Lab merged with Sinn Fein?

    Passport between Northern Ireland and the British mainland is dispicable ... clearly Nu Lab have sold out, why would they be treated any differently then a Scot travelling down to England?

    It seems idiotic ... the Northern Ireland people will now have free travel into the Republic, but to get into Great Britain (where a parliament with significant power of them is located), they need a Passport? Its almost as if Nu Lab are pushing the Northern Irish into the Republic.

  20. PJ

    Clarification for James Croghan

    Like other people have said, it is utterly impossible to police the border in Ireland, and it was never done during the "Troubles" (god I hate that euphemism). The Irish border was hastily drawn up in the 1920's, and was supposed to be redrawn in a border commision that never really happened due to Michael Collin's death in the civil war. The consequence of that is that the border is an absolute rabbit warren network of small country roads used by farmers, with a few major routes. There are roads that pass through NI going from one point in the republic to another without ever joining up with the Northern Ireland road network. There are similar roads going through the republic that are purely for joining up points in Northern Ireland. There are roads that cross the border several times going from one town to another. And those are the main roads. During the troubles, the British army would blow up roads with bombs, and then the local farmers on both sides of the border would dump piles of gravel in the craters to avoid 15 mile tractor journeys to go to fields 1 mile away in farms that straddled the border. Like the original article said, there are towns, villages and even peoples houses that the border runs through. And THOUSANDS of roads.

    Of course, in the past both governments were either unwilling and/or uncaring about the border region, and were quite happy to leave it as it was. The result of this was rapid depopulation of the border regions in the republic, and the cutting off from natural markets for business in NI, leading to huge emmigration in Ireland and huge subsidies to Northern Ireland from British taxpayers. I'm glad that the governments are finally seeing sense and encouraging a single economic entity for Ireland (I mean, who gives a crap about nationality within what is effectively a federal European superstate? People want to make $$$, nationality is about local people paying for local services, nothing more). With regards to border controls being put in place between NI and the rest of the UK vs. NI and the republic, which makes more sense? thousands of entry points on an un-policeable border or a few (Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Dundalk, Drogheda, Rosslare, Belfast, Larne, Colraine) entry points to an island?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Hong Kong

    We gave back hong-kong so why the chuff do we still hold onto northen ireland?

    It's not like it is of any strategic importance! .. sheesh!

  22. Bob Jones

    Why do we keep N.I?

    Well atleast half of the people there want to stay in the UK ... it is a bit important to the UK, there is industry there, but I think its population numbers ... every little helps the UK claim more power in the EU and on the world stage, which is why we try let as many immigrants in and move here as possible.

    I don't think it really matters any more in the EU super state, but it does matter to a few people in Northern Ireland, any significant change would likely be a disaster.

    Plus, I imagine the North are quite happy to get the "UK-watered down" EU than join the RoE which can't exert much, if any, influence in the EU yet is of course subject to their policies, or create a new sovereign country in which the people of Northern Ireland would essentially be ruled from Brussels.

    I think the way it is now is probably the lesser evils for most Northern Irish people ...

    As for a single economy, well we already have that ... its the EU.

    I find it funny that the UK instead of opening borders, like the EU wants, or maintaining the status quo of a border with Europe but not with EIre has gone one step further and actually made a border inside their country.

    I can't wait until we can border Yorkshire up and stop all the Lancastrians getting in ... viva la Yorkshire! Its madness.

  23. Mr Larrington
    Black Helicopters

    It's all random...

    ...or something. I went to France by ferry in August and had to show my passport at both ends of both crossings.

  24. amanfromMars Silver badge

    AI Challenge Accepted and Delivered Anonymous Cowards/Agent Provocateurs?

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    The Intelligence in its People is, probably definitely maybe, AC. QuITe Colossal strategic importance, actually, and it is also being admirably and ably demonstrated in the new Structures in Stormont, which are not afraid to expose their wares [warts and all] to Public Peer Review and Open Scrutiny. Do you not consider the recent Northern Ireland Executive Investment Strategy and Draft Budget, Masterful....... IT certainly trails Brown and his Darlings in ITs Wake..... but then the Irish are Famed for their Wakes and Justifiably so. It is the Haunting of Innocents with Drives them so into the Future.....lest they Forget to Remember Regret. Better Deeds left Undone.

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    And the "enemy" [that which is opposed and/or supported with antagonism] also may be fully aware of that, which would confirm the madness in its pointless posturing use?

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    Definitely more Wild West Cowboys and Indians than Star Trek and HAL.

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  25. Anonymous Coward

    Hong Kong, Ireland, India, falklands etc.

    Why do we keep them, good question?

    If England was rid of the celtic "nations" we could payless tax! - dont you Celts start banging on about the oil, a) its in international waters, b) its gonna run out soon anyway!

    and as for our nukes, yup galdy bring them back down south - afterall you dont get your neighbour to look after your family jewels do you!?

    as for "but they want to be part of the UK" - so does half of india (opposed to the other half that booted us out) - does tahtn mean we should annexe the Punjab or NW frontier agian?

    Hong We jus leased after going to war with China to force them to sell out out "smack" (produced in india) to ther chinese people! - ironically we now buy all our consumer goods off them and they travel here to take photos of the great imperilastic piles we built with thier money and suffering!

    but seriously, with regard to ireland, i am sure its just a softening up exercise to give it back! - shame they dont have any oil or minerals rights like the falklands!! - now there is useful relic of empire!

    oh, and did i mention the war?

  26. Neil Hoskins


    I think a couple of people have missed the point about voting. The Republic of Ireland is a foreign country, like France or Germany. However, have a look at your electoral registration form next time you complete it and you'll see that you get to vote in UK elections if you're a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. If you're French or German you don't. Why not?

    As for me and hordes of UK citizens going over to Ireland and voting in *their* elections: yeah, right...

  27. Chris Hamilton

    Border controls to the mainland EU are a joke.

    I travel to France every couple of weeks to see my better half who works in Lille. As I live in the South of England, I usually drive and always use the Tunnel.

    In the last year, I have crossed the channel 10 times by car/tunnel and I can honestly say that I have only been asked for my passport twice, and both of those times were to re-enter the UK. French customs have asked to see my drivers licence, but never my passport, and my car has been searched once, by French Gendarmerie on the UK side (the day after the Glasgow Airport bomb).

    So, if I can travel back and forth to France almost unimpeded, why should I need a passport to go to another part of my own country.

  28. Rich Harding

    Fair Points, John

    It's just one of my bugbears, as you may have gathered :)

    Another one would obviously be enslavement to US influence, from where Euro PNR comes. Yet another would be those who yearn for some alternative world where we're 22 miles from New York, not Calais and, instead of concentrating on things they can't change / are demonstrably idiotic, like running around calling for the UK to leave the EU, could far more usefully weigh in and help stifle these individual excesses.

  29. Lee Staniforth

    Bertie Ahern

    Call me Mr Pedantic if you will, but Bertie Ahern isn't the 'Irish Prime Minister', but rather the Irish Taoiseach. It's just annoying that a lot of British press uses the wrong term.

  30. Lee Staniforth


    Does this extend to the Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, etc and Gibraltar?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wee boats

    How hard would it be for a small dingy to cross the 20km of Irish sea from Scotland to Norn Iron?

  32. John Bayly

    @Neil Hoskins (again)

    Irish people only get a vote over here if they're a resident.

    You don't (and can't) get hordes of Irish people coming over here just to vote.

    I'm a resident here, am employed, pay tax, claim no benefits, and get a vote. An English person doing the same in Ireland would have the same rights.

    I can't really understand your issue with this.

  33. Bob Jones


    I think Britain will want to keep Northern Ireland in the same way that we wanted tonnes of Eastern European countries that weren't ready, to join the EU (Poland, Bulgaria, Rumania, any one ... contrast this to Estonia or Slovenia who were at least of a decent stature) so that the FTSE companies can go and buy up the land and people. The Northern ireland economy won't stay the worst in the UK for ever, its eventually going to at least reach Scottish levels, most likely English ... who will be there to help? The companies of course ... Now, you may be thinking, well since the EU means any company can go in there, they can, but being under the same (or mostly) legislation will help our companies.

    When that is done though, the North will probably look at the South and wonder why the hell haven't we got an economy like theirs? The answer they've got a socialist government in Westminster who love their welfare state and to tax everything.

    Won't be long until the North is begging to join the South ... I expect for the next 30 years, we'll keep NI and let the economy develop, at which point the South won't feel they'll be picking up dead weight (ie. Eastern Germany) and the North will see the grass is greener down in the South and wish to join ...

  34. Mr Larrington

    @John Bayly

    "I'm a resident here, am employed, pay tax, claim no benefits, and get a vote."

    The Womand Formerly Known As Mrs Larrington is resident here, is (self-)employed, pays tax and claims no benefits. Yet, because she is a German national, she is not entitled to vote in a general election. So what's so special about the Irish?

  35. David Beck

    @John Bayly

    I don't know what Neil Hoskins issue is but I've been resident in the UK for 31 years, pay taxes, have a mortgage, all the stuff and have no right to vote. Why should you?

  36. John Bayly

    @Mr Larrington & @Neil Hoskins

    If you look at who is elligible to vote in the UK, you see includes "British or Commonwealth citizens who are resident in the UK". Ireland was a member of the Commonwealth until 1949 (which was when it became a republic), and it appears that they kept voting rights that would have been of the time.

    I say appears as I could be completely wrong, and this could be a result of a later treaty.

    As a resident in the UK, the only way I can vote in Ireland is to fly back for an election as there is no Postal vote for people abroad.

    Regarding the "The Woman Formerly Known As Mrs Larrington", my Mother has the same problem (conincidentilly being a German, but living in Ireland), and I think it's ridiculous. If you're a benefit to a country, and reside in it for more that 50% of the year surely you should have a right to say how said country is run.

    I may have come across as believing that it's my [God] given right to vote in the UK, but what I've been trying to say that it's not a one way relationship.

    Basically, I'm just glad that I have a say in the way the country is run (or at least I have the belief of it).

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Right to vote

    The UK, like most countries, allows adult citizens to vote. So, if you've been resident in the UK for a while, and want the right to vote there, become a citizen (I think 5 years legal permanent residence with no criminal convictions is enough).

    Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Don't want to become a citizen for whatever reason (e.g. a German might not want to give up their German citizenship, as German, not UK law, would require), then you don't get to vote in the UK.

  38. Michael


    Bertie said we couldn't join schengen because of the CTA: So, if it means nothing, when can we join schengen , and if not WHY NOT?

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