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Brexit risk to Northern Ireland peace, warns Kofi Annan

By Shona Murray

The former Secretary General of the United Nations has warned that Brexit poses a threat to peace in Northern Ireland.

Kofi Annan said the Good Friday Agreement was "painstakingly achieved after complex negotiations" and involved compromises on all sides as he insisted it must be protected.

Mr Annan said the Agreement has helped secure peace in Northern Ireland for the past two decades and it will be under threat should a hard border be introduced when the UK leaves the EU.

"Amid the wider political and economic uncertainty caused by Brexit, all stakeholders should place the preservation of peace and security as a high priority," he added.

Mr Annan was speaking on behalf of The Elders - an independent group of retired, experienced global leaders originally brought together by Nelson Mandela - who work together to support conflict resolution.

They said any imposition of a "hard border" as part of the Brexit process would "seriously undermine the Agreement".

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and a member of the group, said: "Peace in Northern Ireland was hard-won and needs to be protected.

"The Elders welcome the assertion by UK Prime Minister Theresa May of the paramountcy of the Good Friday Agreement, and the importance of ensuring that nothing should be done to allow the reimposition of a hard border.

"All governments and parties in all parts of the UK and Ireland must work to make this promise a reality."

The group's comments come as the June deadline for "significant and measurable" progress on the Irish border issue appears on the horizon.

Brexit sources say nothing of any positive consequence has been forthcoming so far from the British side on any solution to prevent a hard border.

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