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Author Topic: On crossing borders by public transport - to and within the UK contrasted  (Read 447 times)
grahame
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« on: October 13, 2019, 09:21:42 am »

Thursday afternoon I rode the "Enterprise" from Dublin in the Irish Republic to Belfast in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Just a routine ticket check on the train, and I could have been unidentified if I had bought awalk up ticket with cash.

Thursday night, I rode a ferry within the United Kingdom from Belfast to Liverpool, and all passengers were required on arrival in Liverpool to present photo ID to police officers prior to catching the bus on to Hamilton Square (Birkenhead).  The officer I spoke with took a particular interest in my 2016 Saudi Visa and was asking me all sorts of questions about what I had been doing in Saudi those years ago, and in Belfast the previous day.

Does it strike anyone else as a bit odd that I can make an international journey without ID, but then be subjected to quite a strong (though friendly in how it was done) questioning of who I am and what I'm doing on a domestic journey?  Although there's all sorts of discussions going on about the relationship between Ireland, and the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) after 31st October, it strikes me that there is already, "de facto" a border within the UK.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2019, 11:14:37 am »

Under the terms of the Common Travel Area you don't (currently - we'll have to see what the 'erberts come back from Brussels with...) need a passport to travel to Ireland, so I never take mine. I would have shown 'em my buss pass, and the Saudi Embassy don't stamp visas on bus passes...

Of course, it might nave been that beard!  Grin
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2019, 11:53:53 am »

The Ireland-UK common travel area dates back to 1922 so should, but of course that doesn't mean it will, survive whatever happens Brexitwise.

What checks were there when you arrived at Dublin?
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didcotdean
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2019, 12:17:45 pm »

I remember someone at security at Belfast City Airport getting quite testy with me after asking me for picture ID (he actually initially asked first for a passport) and my reply was I didn't have any on me. My airline to London didn't require one to travel and my driving licence is a battered sheet of pink paper.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2019, 01:42:42 pm »

I remember being stopped a number of times coming back from Dublin to Holyhead in the 80s and 90s. I came to the conclusion that it was either my long hair or my rucksack that made them single me out. The officials always seemed much more friendly going the other way.

A few years ago, when we drove north from Washington State into British Columbia, a rather humourless Canadian border official was very keen to know if we has any guns, rocket launchers or other ordnance in the car. On the way back, a much more friendly US official simply asked whether we had any soft fruit. It's a funny old world. 
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2019, 03:57:28 pm »

The Ireland-UK common travel area dates back to 1922 so should, but of course that doesn't mean it will, survive whatever happens Brexitwise.

What checks were there when you arrived at Dublin?

A very quick glance at my passport - everyone passed at a couple of seconds each.   

Quite surprising what they do between these parts of the United Kingdom - I can't imagine everyone would be happy if they checked everyone's ID travelling from Pilining to Severn Tunnel Junction Severn Tunnel Junction to Pilning, let alone on Cardiff to Holyhead services four times as the train goes in and out of Wales!
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2019, 04:50:48 pm »

A few years ago, when we drove north from Washington State into British Columbia, a rather humourless Canadian border official was very keen to know if we has any guns, rocket launchers or other ordnance in the car. On the way back, a much more friendly US official simply asked whether we had any soft fruit. It's a funny old world. 

My Canadian colleagues remind me that Canada retains the "Right to arm bears"!
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Noggin
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2019, 06:54:40 pm »

Does it strike anyone else as a bit odd that I can make an international journey without ID, but then be subjected to quite a strong (though friendly in how it was done) questioning of who I am and what I'm doing on a domestic journey?  Although there's all sorts of discussions going on about the relationship between Ireland, and the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) after 31st October, it strikes me that there is already, "de facto" a border within the UK.

Not odd, but yes, as a result of the free-movement area between the UK and Eire, N Ireland to Scotland will inevitably attract closer scrutiny than say, the Isle of Wight ferry, thought not a border by any means.   

I think you're conflating checks on the right to cross a border (or leave a country for that matter), with checks on why you might be crossing that border, and whether you pose a threat to the means of transport.

In the case of the Enterprise train, the UK and Eire have little interest in checking you - if you have dubious intentions then there are 1001 ways that you can get yourself, or any dodgy materials across the border. But when it comes to crossing the Irish Sea, then your options are more limited, so it's worth the security services keeping a closer look.

I don't think it's necessarily an unusual situation, I seem to recall that the Spanish are fairly keen to vett domestic AVE travellers



 
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2019, 09:15:58 pm »

My Canadian colleagues remind me that Canada retains the "Right to arm bears"!

...not to be confused with being given permission to wear just a vest, otherwise known as the 'right to bare arms'.
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2019, 10:29:45 pm »

... if you have dubious intentions then there are 1001 ways that you can get yourself, or any dodgy materials across the border ...

You really got me thinking, and Western Pathfinder probably wonders along similar lines.



More seriously

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But when it comes to crossing the Irish Sea, then your options are more limited, so it's worth the security services keeping a closer look.

Totally understood - though I look at police powers to stop someone and ask questions (which they have) and wonder what they would do if I had exercised my right (as I understand it) simply to walk on / refuse to answer.  It was nicely done, but I really wonder ...
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Western Pathfinder
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2019, 11:05:10 pm »

I have been known to ponder....
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2019, 06:59:05 am »

Graham, it is the beard problem. They assume that you might have odd political connections, even more so if you are wearing socks and sandals!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2019, 09:12:19 am »

Elsewhere, I've heard of people having pen knives confiscated on Portsmouth ferries. This doesn't seem to happen on Dover ferries so is presumably down to ferry company policy. Then there was the case a few years ago of a terrorist gun attack on Eurostar, thwarted thank goodness but only by luck, which shows both the need for and the futility of checks there. But if you wanted to transport weapons from Ireland to Britain, or vice versa, small boat might be the way, as with drugs.
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Bob_Blakey
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2019, 12:48:31 pm »

The UK-Eire Common Travel Area must certainly lead to a few anomalies. I have travelled by plane between Bristol/Birmingham & Dublin a number of times recently when going to european rugby matches. My passport invariably gets a quick check on arrival in Dublin, very rarely on the return except by the airline on departure.. SWTSMBO is a UK PR who travels on her Singapore passport (although the 'Leave to Remain' stamp is in an old passport which is no longer used). Likewise it gets checked by Irish immigration but not when we return to the UK. On only one occasion have airline staff properly verified that Singaporeans are permitted to enter the UK visa-free.

More holes than a Swiss cheese.     
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