A new armed Garda unit began to patrol the Northern Ireland border in the Cavan-Monaghan region this week. 

An armed police unit in now patrolling the Irish border in Cavan and Monaghan, beginning operations on Monday, September 30. 

The Garda (Irish police) unit is made up of 20 police officers from other armed units around the country but it is reported that new members will be trained to join the border unit. 

According to TheJournal.ie, extra police officers are being trained for full-time armed support duty. 

The development was confirmed by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at the Cross Border Organised Crime Conference in Co Cavan last week. 

Twenty new recruits are set to join the unit by the end of November.

As a result of tension created by Brexit, there has been a long-standing demand for armed support to be posted in and around the Northern Ireland border, a spokesman for the Garda Representative Association told TheJournal.ie. Criminal gang activity is another reason why the association has been calling for the unit. 

It does have concerns, however, that officers are being relocated from armed units in other areas. 

“Our concern is that this will deplete armed support units in other parts of the country, although we welcome the fact there is a commitment from garda management to very quickly backfill those positions,” the spokesman added.
In March 2019, the Irish Garda Commissioner confirmed that Garda would soon roll out a third armed support unit to be located along the Irish border. Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar claimed that it would have been established Brexit or no Brexit and is not a direct response to fears of a no-deal Brexit and disruption of peace on the Irish border. 

He added that the extra unit came as a result of joint work between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Gardaí, which finds that 43% of organized crime on the island has a cross-border aspect.

“The position is we are improving garda resources all over the country,” the Taoiseach said, stating that it should come as no surprise that counties close to the border would also benefit from extra resources. 

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) backed Varadkar in claiming that there was no connection between Brexit and the extra forces, however. 

“At the GRA conference as far back as 2016 delegates based in the border divisions called for the lack of 24 hr Armed support units in those divisions to be addressed immediately and indeed at the GRA conference in 2018 we called for an effective geographical spread of such units in the border region," James Morrisroe, GRA representative for the Cavan Monaghan Division told TheJournal.ie. 

“One would hope that the armed unit in Cavan is set up without delay and training commenced as soon as possible given the current Brexit impasse.”