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  1. ITV Report

Police chief in warning over Brexit terrorist threat

PSNI Chief constable George Hamilton. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Ireland’s top police officer has accused the British government of failing to understand the impact of Brexit and the dangers of terrorism in the region.

George Hamilton, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, warned that government officials have failed to prepare for the impact of Britain leaving the European Union on issues surrounding peace and security.

He said that he has made a number of “urgent pleas” for resources, but he is not getting the information or clarity from Westminster.

The Irish border. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Hamilton said that some politicians believed that terrorism in Northern Ireland was over and that it viewed the region as “peripheral”.

“There’s a feeling that as regards the Troubles and the conflict, Northern Ireland is sorted and we don’t need to worry about it, when actually we’re working flat out 24/7 to keep a lid on it,” he said in a newspaper interview.

He also criticised the lack of political stability in Northern Ireland after the Executive collapsed 20 months ago.

“That’s not a good thing. We would much prefer the government to be up and running, delivering on a programme and making people feel the benefits of peace and normality instead of this tension and nervousness,” he added.

Government officials in Britain and the EU are expected to produce an agreement in October before the UK leaves next year.

Both the Irish and British governments want to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Anti Brexit billboards on the northern side of the border between Newry in Northern Ireland and Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland. Credit: Niall Carson/PA

Mr Hamilton said that any physical infrastructure would become a target for dissident republicans.

He added: “The purpose for which those checking points and border controls would be put in place would become less and less relevant because they would move away from issues of trade or movement of people to old-fashioned security on a national frontier.

“That was done during the period of the Troubles rather unsuccessfully, and was sadly the subject of attacks and many lives lost.”

He said that the PSNI has been pressing the British government for more resources to prepare for Brexit.

According to The Sunday Times, the PSNI has asked for 400 extra officers, as well as extra vehicles and equipment.

When asked if the British government understood the full consequences on Northern Ireland, he said: “I’m not sure all of them do. I have a concern some may see issues to do with the Irish border as literally peripheral, not just geographically but in terms of impact.”