Brexit chaos: PSNI chief claims 'no-one in charge' of Ireland border preparations - and Paisley says 'sounds like a shambles'
Northern Ireland’s police chief George Hamilton has revealed the level of chaos surrounding preparations for the border in Ireland after Brexit, claiming that no-one is in charge.
Mr Hamilton told MPs there was no “go-to coordinator” who was “actually taking responsibility” for the project – as he warned of the risk from organised crime and dissident terrorists.
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The chief constable revealed he had yet to submit a business case for how to bolster border policing because he was “trying to find a mechanism and an audience” for doing so.
“We feel like we are in the dark around all of this – we don’t have that go-to coordinator to assist with us, to tell us what the requirement is,” Mr Hamilton said.
The evidence was described as “very troubling” by Sylvia Hermon, an independent Northern Ireland MP – while the DUP’s Ian Paisley said it “sounds like a shambles”.
Mr Hamilton also revealed he had yet to have a meeting with Theresa May about the Brexit threat to the border – and that he had not met her at all since last October.
“There are so many issues to be dealt with, in such a period of time, that things are not getting the attention they require,” he told the Commons Northern Ireland committee.
And he added: “The clock is ticking – time is running out.”
The prime minister’s lack of attention to the crucial issue was attacked by Lady Hermon, who described it as “extraordinary”.
“She was the home secretary for six years. She is well aware – above many in the cabinet – of the delicacy and the difficulties that the PSNI is going to face, whether it’s a soft or a hard Brexit.”
Confirming the renewed terrorist threat from a harder border, Mr Hamilton said: “The new IRA themselves have come out saying that – they have talked about Brexit being an opportunity for them. That would be our assessment.”
The EU had demanded progress on the Irish border controversy by this week’s leaders’ summit – but none is now expected to be made before the autumn.
The issue is caught up in cabinet disagreements over future customs arrangements, which the prime minister hopes to settle at a Chequers “away day” on July 6.
She has promised “no physical infrastructure”, but anti-EU Tories have demanded the UK plough ahead with pulling out of the EU single market and customs union – leaving the question of future border checks to Dublin to decide.
Independent News Service