Ireland has accepted the need to set up checks with Northern Ireland in a no-deal Brexit scenario, people familiar with the matter said.
The government accept that checks, especially on livestock, will be required if the UK crashes out of the European Union, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans haven’t yet been discussed with cabinet.
The location of any checks is still to be determined, one of the people said.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said that was “incorrect.”
Updated contingency plans were expected to be published in full later on Tuesday, after the cabinet has had its discussion, the spokesman said.
Debate between Ireland and the European Commission continues on where exactly the checks will be physically placed.
Coveney warned Ireland risks losing access to the EU’s single market if Northern Ireland become a “backdoor” to the bloc in the event of a no-deal Brexit, underlining the scale of the dilemma facing Ireland if the UK crashes out.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said last year his government would “never” build a border, though he appears to have stepped back from that stance after it became clear that could mean a de facto frontier emerged between Ireland and the rest of the bloc. Varadkar said that while tariffs could be levied away from the frontier, avoiding checks on goods presents a bigger challenge.
The Irish government will have an obligation to protect the single market, even as it wants to keep the border with the UK invisible, he said in Dublin.
If the UK tumbles out of the bloc in October without a deal, then the question that has dogged Brexit talks — how to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland — becomes an acute crisis. The main obstacle to getting a Brexit deal that’s acceptable to all sides is finding a solution for the Irish border.
The European Commission has pushed the Irish government to lay out its plans for the border in a no-deal Brexit, a person familiar with the matter said earlier this year.