BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland’s new police chief warned on Saturday that a hard Brexit could have a “detrimental” impact on two decades of peace in the British-run province and risk his officers becoming targets for militants.
FILE PHOTO: Billboards are viewed from inside a disused customs hut on the border in Carrickcarnon, Northern Ireland, December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne, appointed last month after a career in English policing, raised concerns about how he was supposed to police the almost 300 border crossing with the Irish republic if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal in just over three months.
Britain, Ireland and the EU want to avoid a return of physical checks on the border, which was marked by military checkpoints before a 1998 peace deal between Catholic nationalists seeking a united Ireland and Protestant unionists who wanted to keep Northern Ireland British.
However how to manage what will become Britain’s only land border with the EU – including the contested “backstop” or insurance mechanism to prevent checks – remains the most contentious part of Britain’s divorce deal that the contenders to become the country’s next prime minister want renegotiated.
“I think we are worried that in the short term a hard Brexit will