UKIP leader Nigel Farage has revealed he would allow the border between Ireland’s North and South to stay open but with stricter controls if he was Britain’s Prime Minister.
Although the flamboyant Eurosceptic is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU, he said Irish citizens would still be able to cross the border freely under a UKIP government.
Mr Farage made the comments while speaking in Belfast as he launched UKIP’s bid to attract voters in the North ahead of next year’s European and council elections.
UKIP has only one MLA in the North and one councillor in the region, but Mr Farage said the party has received a “bounce” in its support.
He also claimed UKIP is bridging sectarian divides, attracting significant numbers of both ‘discontented’ DUP voters and young Catholics.
While a UKIP Government would impose stricter border controls, Mr Farage said his main concern was to ensure foreign nationals could only enter the North from the South if they had a work permit.
He also told a local newspaper there would be no need to reintroduce customs posts.
Earlier this year, former Irish Ambassador to Britain Dáithí O’Ceallaigh warned that if Britain were to leave the EU, it could have a dramatic impact upon the region.
“Nobody on this island wants another barrier between the north and the south,” Mr O’Ceallaigh told The Irish Post.
“But were Britain to disengage from the EU and pull out from it that would have very significant implications for the border. And they are the sort of implications that we would not like.”