Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 15:01 UK

Britain-Ireland border check plan

Ryanair and Aer Lingus planes at Dublin airport
Airlines could be fined if they do not carry out checks, the paper says

The first formal border checks between Britain and the Irish Republic in more than 80 years have been proposed.

Full passport inspections could be part of the revisions, a Home Office consultation paper has said.

These would apply to those travelling by air and sea, but could also include more immigration checks between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

But the governments said there were no plans for fixed checkpoints to be reintroduced along that land border.

The scheme is expected to target attempted illegal immigration rather than domestic travellers.

The need to produce some proof of identity for travellers is aimed at foreign nationals rather than those living in the Common Travel Area (CTA), established in 1925.

As well as the UK and the Irish Republic, this area includes the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, where the enhanced checks would also be introduced.

Separate searches

The governments said checks would be made "on passengers and their documents" arriving and departing "on sea and air routes".

CTA residents and foreign passengers could be separated on arrival into channels similar to those already in place for European passengers on international flights.

The paper also suggested laws could be proposed to allow searches of vehicles travelling to and from the Irish Republic.

A UK passport
There are currently no border checks between the UK and the Irish Republic
And airlines and ferry operators could be fined for carrying passengers to the UK who did not have appropriate documents, it added.

Measures including "state-of-the-art border technology, joint sea and port operations and the continued exchange of intelligence" would be used, according to a statement by UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Dermot Ahern, the Irish minister for justice, equality and law reform.

"We are both introducing electronic border management systems so we can count people in and out of the country, and identify those people who may be of interest to our law-enforcement authorities," the statement added.

"We are committed to preserving the Common Travel Area and its benefits for legitimate travellers."

In 2006 nearly 16 million passengers travelled by air and sea between Ireland and the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

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