Hain – PSNI warns hard border would be an opportunity for Northern Irish dissidents

It is highly likely that physical infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would come under attack from dissidents if there is a hard border after Britain leaves the EU, the deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Drew Harris, said today.

Harris said: “Dissident groups see this as an area [the border] which is contentious which will give them a further rallying call to try and engender support. It is of concern, they have a focus in this, they see it as an opportunity…The UK has said there will be no infrastructure on the border, that would be an obvious place for dissident groups to rally around and also to attack. It is highly foreseeable that dissident groups would seek to take action and that would include buildings.”

Commenting, Lord Peter Hain, leading supporter of Open Britain and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: 

“A hard border on the island of Ireland would play into the hands of those seeking to destroy the peaceful settlement achieved by the Good Friday Agreement, which has provided relative stability for 20 years and put the horror and terror behind us. 

“As Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris rightly says, customs posts on the border would present a sitting target for dissident Republicans. The former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has made the same point.

“Nothing should be more important to Theresa May than retaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland. Brexit cannot be allowed to jeopardise it. Whatever solution emerges must ensure no hard border of any sort on the island of Ireland. Staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union is almost certainly the only way of achieving that.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

Drew Harris’ comments are reported here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2017/dec/07/brexit-deal-may-varadkar-eu-less-hospitable-for-foreign-talent-after-brexit-says-banking-chief-politics-live?page=with:block-5a2921a54cd919066cd82685#block-5a2921a54cd919066cd82685