There did not seem to be any conventional policing. The main function of the Royal Ulster Constabulary appeared to be border security. The Barracks housed an estimated thirteen RUC men who patrolled in grey jeeps and were heavily armed. The ‘B’ Specials, the RUC auxiliaries were called up in times of emergency. These were the few local protestant men who were used to man the sandbagged huts on bridges, as one of the main targets was communications, i.e. roadways and communications would obviously be broken if the bridges were blown up.
The unapproved roads were a constant source of problems. British Army staff would come in and blow craters in roads which did not have frontier posts in an attempt to control smuggling or terrorist traffic. This really was futile for a number of reasons. The first was that there was very little motor traffic so cratering the roads was of limited impact, apart from the irritation caused to farmers who needed those roads for herding livestock and bringing the harvests home. All of us knew the safe tracks through the border bogs and fields so really anybody could easily cross the border on foot and unobserved. Inevitably, as soon as the roads were cratered, they were filled in by unknown persons in the dead of night and as often as the Army cleared the infills they were renewed.
There was very little conventional crime. The Maser had a level of control and of course heard everything that happened. If the perpetrator of the crime were of schoolgoing age he could be sure of being given the maximum sentence, i.e. twelve of the strap. There were no juvenile delinquents.
Border Posts/Customs Huts
To drive across the Border involved checking with both the Northern post and the Southern post. The Customs Book was stamped by the Customs Men on the Republic side, dated and initialled by the Customs Man. Any breach of this could result in the vehicle being impounded, a fine and possibly a prison sentence. The posts closed at midnight which could be a problem and I remember my Father making very complicated arrangements to avoid the sanctions.
The Customs men also rode the trains. This was mainly on the Northern side and they had search and arrest powers.
Written by Mary Egan – since deceased
Kindly donated by her Sister, Sive Haughey