The Who guitarist Townshend hits out at dissidents for 'exploiting Brexit'
Rocker Pete Townshend from The Who has hit out at republican terrorists trying to exploit Brexit for their own nefarious ends - labelling them "drug runners" and "criminals".
The London-born guitarist - whose hits with the iconic band include My Generation and We Won't Get Fooled Again - took aim at dissidents who want to threaten the peace process.
He said: "It's like people saying: 'What's the big deal about the backstop?' The big deal about the backstop is that people in Belfast can live a good life now, it is a tourist city now.
"Well, 10 years ago it wasn't. It was miserable and hard. Even the remote possibility that they should go back to being subjected to these people that call themselves 'Provisional IRA'...those f***ers aren't IR-anything.
"What they are is drug runners, gun runners and criminals."
While The Who are not an overtly political band, Townshend said a track on their new album, Beads On One String, touches on the idea of bringing everyone together.
He said: "That song is much more about race and religion. It's a bit of an airy fairy idea, something that Meher Baba said: 'I want to bring the religions of the world together like beads on one string'."
But he likened the idea to the European Union and admitted that he has found the twists and turns of Brexit difficult to grasp as much as anyone."
He said: "Like most people, I'm completely stunned and bemused, amused, confused ... I don't know whether I mind, really, either way.
"But my son and his wife cried when they heard. They're young, in their late 20s, and that was tough to see.
"The EU is a cumbersome, growing institution - but if anything, isn't it beads on one string?
"The other thing that's so interesting about Brexit is how so many of us that voted to leave...I didn't vote to leave, but so many of us that voted for leave - you notice that I said 'us', the royal 'we' - probably didn't think much about Ireland being in the EU. Y'know, the Irish are 'us'."