The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has refused to say whether the PSNI will receive additional funding for policing the border post-Brexit.
In a letter from PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, quoted to Karen Bradley in Wednesday’s Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, he said his concerns over Brexit have left him feeling orphaned.
Mr Hamilton added that as a senior public official he was getting very little support from those he would expect it from.
Lady Sylvia Hermon warned in the committee that dissident republicans and the new IRA are recruiting, and organised crime gangs see the potential to exploit the border in the wake of the UK leaving the EU.
She asked: “Are you saying to people of Northern Ireland that they should not have expectations for more resources?
“Is the Chief Constable whistling in the dark?”
Ms Bradley replied she had spoken to the Chief Constable about his concerns and the matter will be discussed on Friday’s Cabinet meeting and in the upcoming Brexit white paper.
“We are making sure he has people he can rely on in cabinet for leaving the EU,” she said.
“We accept the PSNI has additional difficulties over other forces; the PSNI is the only force that will have to police a land border – a unique situation in the UK.
“Our role as Northern Ireland office is that we are a liaison and coordination department to enable the requests and the concerns of the Chief Constable has raised are dealt with accordingly.
“I want to be clear: I do not have executive powers, I cannot direct civil service, and I don’t have a budget.”
Lady Hermon pressed Ms Brady, telling her the people of Northern Ireland would be watching.
She said: “You sit in cabinet, with the Home Secretary, with the Prime Minister and the Brexit secretary.
“I’m not asking about budget, I want confirmation for people of Northern Ireland, who are watching, that the concerns of the Chief Constable of the PSNI, as you described in a unique situation, that you actually discuss his concerns with these people.”
Ms Bradley replied: “I absolutely do, I’m the advocate for Northern Ireland and have raised the issues in cabinet and they will be properly addressed and dealt with.
“The budget I’m taking through was put forward in March for the coming year, in the normal course of business, spending bids come in and are considered.
“I’m not making any comment, they are still being considered and it would be inappropriate for me to say anything further.”