Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pit bulls and border controls

Last weeks Panorama on illegal dog fighting was fascinating - partly because it demonstrated the flaw in the constant flag waving about a border police by various members of the cabinet, including the PM himself.

For those of you who didn't see, the BBC reporter easily smuggled a pit bull into the UK by the crafty means of flying the dog to Dublin, where it was the driven up to Northern Ireland and carried accross to the UK on a sailing from Larne to Stranraer. (Note to future BBC reporters doing this trick - it's quicker to take the dog to Liverpool on the fast ferry from Dublin port either direct to Liverpool or to Holyhead and driving through North Wales. You've about as much chance of being stopped as well - at least if our experience of driving through Holyhead is anything to go by).

And this is the fundmental flaw with the Border controls - the UK has a common travel area with the Irish Republic. Even if you police the ports into Britain, you still have this very long land border along which there are no effective controls.

To impose them would be to undermine much of the work that has been done in Ireland - the Irish Nationalists would regard it as a show of bad faith, and the Unionists would be annoyed at losing access to the cheaper petrol in the Republic. The only sensible solution is for the two governments to combine together to agree a common policy for the combined borders, and allow freedom of movement within the two islands.

So why is it the only reference for "immigration" on the British Irish Council Website is about immigration into the Isle of Man?


deiseach said...

Unless they've started up again and neglected to put up a website, there isn't a fast ferry between Dublin and Liverpool. By the time you'd have sailed up the Mersey in either of the incumbents on the route, the dog would have died of old age :-)

You're dead right about Holyhead. The transport police there will frog-march bus passengers through security with impunity - perhaps they think the dangerous pooch will be in someone's luggage - but car passengers are waved through with a smile, Not really what you'd call joined up thinking

Thomas B said...

I didn't realised they'd stopped the vomit comet.

What really gets my goat is the procedure on the other side - foot passengers are stopped and asked what their nationality is.

Car passengers just go straight through - by the time we realised we weren't going to see a man about the passport, we were on Dun Laoghaire's main street.