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E-Border must not be imposed on Irish people - McDonald

24 October, 2007


Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has called on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to seek a cast iron commitment from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he does not intend to impose an E-Border on the Irish people. Speaking today, after it was announced that the British Government is to enforcece electronic border controls, Ms. McDonald said vague assumptions from Bertie Ahern are not enough to ease concerns about the border between the Six Counties and the Twenty-Six Counties.

Ms. McDonald said, "The announcement from the British that they are to develop electronic border controls raises serious concerns about their plans for the border between the Six Counties and the Twenty-Six Counties here in Ireland.

"The Taoiseach needs to be very clear on this. Vague assumptions are not enough. He must seek a cast iron commitment from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he does not intend to impose an E-Border on the Irish People.

"The life of people, particularly those living in border regions cannot be disrupted. Irish people must enjoy the right to travel freely to any part of Ireland.

"Any border control would fly in the face of the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. Border control would undermine the development of the economy, industry and tourism on an all Ireland basis.

Regarding news that the Irish Government is preparing to establish a similar system to the British model Ms. McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin accepts that steps must be taken to secure Ireland's border. However, we insist that the most effective way to protect Ireland's people is through an all-Ireland approach to border security involving one agency with responsibility for all the island's entry points by sea or sky. And this approach must be underpinned by full human rights compliance.

"Sinn Féin has serious concerns around the protection of data to be gathered under the new system being proposed by the government. State security must be proportionately balanced with the individual's right to be free from any unnecessary interference or surveillance.

"If we use the British model information will be gathered from all individuals travelling to and from this country, the vast majority of whom will pose no security threat. This personal information could potentially include iris scans, fingerprints and even DNA in the future.

"There are no adequate safeguards currently in existence to govern the storage and processing of all of this personal information. Therefore a sound system of data protection safeguards must be fast-tracked and put in place before any proposal of this type can be considered." ENDS

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