“no question of introducing fixed immigration controls on either side of the land border..”

In an Irish Times front page article [no subs] Frank Millar reports Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s response to the DUP leader Ian Paisley’s query on border controls and includes a statement from the DUP leader – who said he was pleased Mr Brown had “so robustly defended the integrity of the United Kingdom’s border”. But it’s worth pointing out that the Prime Minister’s response also indicates that proof of identity will be required – if that “data”, on domestic and sea journeys, is to be available on request.

Referring to Section 14 of the Police and Justice Act 2006, which introduces a new power for the police to request passenger, crew and service “data” on domestic and sea journeys, Mr Brown confirms this power will be brought into force sometime this year, adding: “So, although passengers may be asked to prove their identity when travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom [as they do already on many flights], there is no question of instituting passport control for people travelling within the United Kingdom.”

In his letter, Mr Brown confirms “there is no question of introducing fixed immigration controls on either side of the land border” between the North and the Republic. Successful joint operations between the British Border and Immigration Agency, UK police and the Garda National Immigration Bureau had successfully prevented “non-common travel area (CTA) nationals attempting to cross the boundary illegally in both directions”, Mr Brown told Dr Paisley.

That second paragraph would appear to be a reference to the kind of incident noted by Mick over the Christmas period.

Also in Frank Millar’s report

Dr Paisley urged the Irish Government “to co-operate fully with the UK in securing our borders against those who would exploit them for criminal or terrorist ends”. He added: “It is only right and proper that British citizens in Northern Ireland are treated on a par with their fellow-countrymen in the rest of the UK.”

Time for that considered debate to take place in public?