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Fitzpatrick calls for army to be deployed to prevent cross-border travel

Fitzpatrick calls for army to be deployed to prevent cross-border travel

Local TD Fitzpatrick has called for the army to be deployed along the border to prevent people from Northern Ireland travelling south.

The Independent TD said it was “unreal” the number of Northern registered cars he has seen in the Dundalk and North Louth area, adding “I don’t like it”.

Fitzpatrick was speaking in the context of the impending expiration of the four-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, he said he fears the lifting of restrictions in the North will see an increased amount of cross-border movement.

He said: “As an ex 27th Battalion soldier myself, I think it’s about time that we started using the army. You see what’s happening in Dundalk. We have a barracks in Dundalk where we have 450 soldiers there. Why not deploy them along the border area?

“Louth, Meath and Monaghan have done a fantastic job over the last three or four weeks. Are we just going to flush it down the toilet? I think we have to be realistic. I, for one, want to see a united Ireland, my first priority is that the citizens of Ireland are protected. Your government has to protect us.”

Fitzpatrick said that cross-border travel is “being abused” and that “the number of northern registered cars you see is unreal.”

In response, Vardakar said that the government “isn’t giving any consideration” to putting the army on the border.

“We struggled and fought too hard for too many decades to take all armies off the border and we certainly don’t want to be the jurisdiction that puts uniforms on the border again,” he said.

Despite this, Varadkar said the question is “a serious one” and that the Covid-19 situation in Northern Ireland is “much worse than here.”

Specifically, he said the incidence of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland was three times higher and the death rate was four times as high.

He says the 5km rule is in place in border counties but that it’s best enforced by Gardaí “and not by military means.”

The Tanaiste later added: “Ireland is an island but we’re not an island state. There are two jurisdictions on this island and we’re never going to close the border between north and south.”