TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said a no-deal Brexit could see the return of soldiers to the border in Ireland.
Mr Varadkar was speaking to Bloomberg from Davos, Switzerland where he was attending the World Economic Forum.
A government spokesperson later said the Taoiseach was describing what the border used to look like and could do again in a ‘worst case scenario’.
— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) January 25, 2019
Meanwhile Sinn Féin reacted to Mr Varadkar’s comments by calling for a unity referendum.
The Taoiseach said that Europe will not give up on the backstop proposal to avoid a hard border.
However asked to envision what such a border may look like, Varadkar said it would ‘involve men in uniform’.
“It would involve customs posts. It would involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up,” said the Taoiseach.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald described Mr Varadkar’s comments as ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and renewed calls for a unity referendum.
“Today [the Taoiseach] paints a doomsday scenario of a return of soldiers to the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” she said.
“If that is the case then the only way to prevent such a scenario is by affording the Irish people their say in the form of a border poll on Irish unity.”
According to BBC News, a government spokesperson said the Taoiseach was not referring to Irish personnel in his description.
Reiterating the government’s determination to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the spokesperson said Mr Varadkar “was asked to describe a hard border, and gave a description of what it used to look like, and the risk of what it could look like in the worst case scenario.
"He was not referring to Irish personnel and the Irish government has no plans to deploy infrastructure or personnel at the border.”