Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 06 July, 1993

Written Answers. - Blocking of Cross-Border Roads by British Armed Forces.

34. Mr. Bree asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress, if any, that has been made with reference to his ongoing representations to the British Government regarding the inconvenience caused to residents in Border communities as a result of cross-Border roads being blocked by the British Armed Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

35. Mr. Bree asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of roads linking the State with Northern Ireland that remain open to cross-Border traffic.

36. Mr. Bree asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of roads linking the State with Northern Ireland, which are normally used for cross-Border traffic, that have been blocked by the British Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 35 and 36 together.

According to the Garda authorities there are 125 Border crossing points which are at present open to vehicular traffic. Information received from the British authorities indicates that 103 [1117] Border crossing points are subject to closure order under the Emergency Provisions (Northern Ireland) Act 1991.

I am conscious of the serious difficulties which the closure of cross-Border roads causes for communities on both sides of the Border. In view of the importance which I attach to this issue I have discussed fully the question of Border road closures with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at each of the meetings of the Anglo-Irish Conference which I have attended since my appointment as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs. In the light of these discussions both Governments have agreed to keep the situation regarding road closures under close review, taking fully into account the wider social and economic factors as well as the security considerations involved.

I believe that as a result of these discussions within the Conference there is a greater understanding by all concerned of the complexities of the problem, and of the need to ensure that the economic and social dislocation caused to local communities is kept to a minimum consistent with security. I can assure the Deputy that these matters will continue to receive close examination within the framework of the Anglo-Irish Conference.