From this week's Irish World:
e-borders plan for British-Irish Travel
by Tom Griffin, 22 July 2005 edition
British plans for an electronic border control programme could lead to significant change to the common travel area with Ireland, the Department of Justice has said.
The proposed e-Borders system will identify people who have boarded transport destined for the UK, check them automatically against databases of individuals who pose a security risk, and keep an electronic record of entry into the country. A £15 million pilot version of the scheme is already being tested at international airports.
“At present, under Irish and British immigration law, all passengers (including British and Irish citizens) are required to be in possession of a travel document (usually a national passport) when they arrive at the frontiers of either jurisdiction from outside the common travel area. This does not apply in respect of Irish and British citizens travelling within the common travel area,” a Department of Justice spokesman said.
”The full details of the UK e-Borders initiative have yet to emerge. However it seems likely that additional obligations will be placed on air, sea and rail carriers who bring people to the United Kingdom (including Irish and British citizens). Carriers will be required to supply advance passenger information gleaned, inter alia, from secure ID documents to the UK Joint Borders Operation Centre electronically prior to boarding a passenger for the United Kingdom. The ID documents in question include passports and EU national ID cards (which are already deemed by EU free movement law to be acceptable for travel purposes within the EU). “
”Our understanding at the present time is that the United Kingdom may wish to apply the e-Borders programme to travel within the common travel area. The introduction of the advance passenger information requirement on air, rail and sea carriers within the common travel area would be a new requirement. This would represent a significant change to the workings of the common travel area. The implications for both east/west and particularly north/south cross border travel need to be considered.”
The spokesman added that Justice Minister Michael McDowell “has expressed his concerns to the Home Secretary about the position of Irish Citizens in Northern Ireland who may not wish to register for a British Identity Card. The position of workers who cross the border on a daily basis also needs to be considered.”
”The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is on the record as saying that he would be reluctant to introduce mandatory ID cards as it has the potential to fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the State. However, the Minister has also flagged the reality that if the UK introduces a Card, then it may be necessary for the Irish Government to follow suit, if the common travel area is to be maintained. The Minister, in the aftermath of the London Bombs, indicated that he remained to be convinced that ID Cards would be effective in combating terrorism.”