Irish hard border would be ‘obvious terror target’

A hard border on the island of Ireland would be an “obvious” target for terror attacks by dissident republicans, senior police chiefs have warned.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said any infrastructure along the border would be a “further rallying call to drive their recruitment”.

He told the Commons Brexit select committee at a hearing in Co Armagh: “They have a focus on this. They see it as an opportunity.

“Infrastructure on the border would be an obvious point for dissident groups to rally around and attack.”

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris

Image: DCC Drew Harris said current systems ‘are for a safer Europe’

DCC Harris added it was regrettable that many discussions of the border “take us back to the 80s”.

He said the threat from dissident republicans remains severe, revealing there were four attempts on the life of police officers in the last 12 months. 32 bombing incidents and 58 shootings were also reported.

And he raised concern about shared police and intelligence systems between the UK and Ireland being lost after Brexit.

“The systems are for a safer Europe. It is not a one-way street. We have a lot to offer our European partners after Brexit.

European Commission (EC) member in charge of Brexit negotiations with Britain, Michel Barnier (2nd L) is shown a border road in Co Monaghan between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on May 12, 2017

Image: The UK, Ireland and EU all agree there should be no hard border

“We are unsure of what the landscape is going to look like going forward. Our responsibility is to do our very best to maintain the safety of everyone on this island.

“That has to be backed up with legislation and policy which allows intelligence and evidence to be shared quickly.”

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, head of the PSNI’s serious and organised crime branch, said his organisation and the Irish Garda worked together “across a whole spectrum of crime”.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain responded: “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.”

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