The PSNI and Garda should be allowed to cross the border to catch criminals, a parliamentary committee has found.
Cross-party TDs and senators have backed the call for new protocols to allow police incursions into each other’s jurisdiction when actively chasing suspects.
Sinn Fein TD Peadar Tobin, rapporteur for the committee, said the move would help combat the cross-border black market.
“The idea that criminals can pass the border without a second thought, yet the PSNI or the Garda must stop at that invisible line in pursuance of the criminal is completely illogical,” he added.
The recommendation was among several proposals in a 119-page report on developing an all-island economy drawn up by Dublin’s Oireachtas joint committee on jobs, enterprise and innovation.
The senior government party Fine Gael-chaired committee includes TDs and senators from Fianna Fail, Labour and Sinn Fein as well as Independents.
It says the PSNI and Garda should be allowed to “pursue criminals into the opposite jurisdiction and in keeping with the law of that jurisdiction make an arrest.”
The study, the first of its kind since the island was partitioned in 1921, also attacks “the reluctance on the part of some Northern Unionist policy makers” to foster closer cross-border trade links.
“This makes no sense from a business or economic perspective,” it states.
Northern Ireland is at risk of becoming “peripheral” to Britain and would benefit more than the Republic from closer cross-border ties, the report claims.
“The North is not only separated geographically from Britain but is also weakly integrated into the supply side of the UK’s economy,” it states.
“The North is never central to strategic planning by British firms, and risks becoming both geographically and economically peripheral to Britain.”
Pointing to a study by University of British Columbia academics, the report says an all-island approach to trade could boost the economy on both sides by almost 36 billion euro over eight years.
This would be worth 5,500 euro to every man, woman and child on the island, it is claimed.
The committee has urged that a single economic agency for the island be set up, bringing together investment agencies the IDA, Invest NI and InterTradeIreland.
It also called for:
:: joint economic planning between Dublin and Stormont
:: scrapping of north/south roaming charges by mobile phone operators
:: hourly rail services between Dublin to Belfast with an early morning service into Belfast
:: the axing of transaction costs for banking, telecoms, and administration on cross border trade
:: urgent funding for a Dublin to Derry motorway, and possibly a new route between Sligo and Dundalk
:: the cutting of haulage levies in Northern Ireland and equalising road tax on both sides of the border
:: a new border region economic zone, with investment in roads and broadband and leading business figures championing the area
The report also called for a harmonisation of excise duties and VAT on both sides of the border to root out black market trading.
Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Fine Gael TD and committee chair, said the economic benefits from closer trading links between the North and South are “undeniable”.
The committee held three days of hearings last year to hear submission from academics, business people, trade unions, trade organisations, public representatives, farmers and state officials.