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Warning New IRA could use Brexit border posts as ambush sites to kill police officers

Policing union warns border posts could be used to ambush officers.
Policing union warns border posts could be used to ambush officers.

Dissident republicans are planning to use any customs posts installed near the Irish border after Brexit to ambush and kill police officers, it has been claimed.

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The Daily Telegraph reports Mark Lindsay, head of Northern Ireland's policing union, saying that although the number of active IRA terrorists has shrunk to 100, they remain a "small but deadly force".

"There could be some interference with infrastructure, I would say that is quite a strong possibility.

"It could be used to lure police into an area," he said.

Boris Johnson has also been warned by security chiefs that a no-deal Brexit would heighten the risk of attacks by dissident republicans, both in Northern Ireland and mainland Britiain.

"We have seen in the past year that they have carried out a wide range of attacks, such as bombs under cars, secondary devices, rockets have been discovered… we have seen the full range of terrorist technology being deployed against officers," added Mr Lindsay.

"But they are small in number. Any campaign they carry out will not be on the same scale [as the Troubles]."

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne has previously said he would not set up patrols on the Irish Border in a no-deal Brexit but that his officers would respond to incidents on a case-by-case basis.

"If we have intelligence about threats to people from other agencies, such as customs or the Border force working in a particular place where they are vulnerable to attack, we will send officers to protect them," he said

Mr Byrne said the PSNI is preparing for every scenario if the UK leaves without a deal, including civil unrest and IRA plots from dissidents seeking to exploit uncertainty about a hard border.

The chief constable said he had a "candid" 30-minute conversation with the Prime Minister by video call earlier this month.

“We were face to face on a video call for over half an hour,” he said.

“It was a very open conversation, trying to tell him we saw that it was nigh-on impossible to try and police over 300 crossings with the amount of police officers we had.

“It was a candid conversation, he was responsive to what we said and at the end of the day, how it landed and what he thought… you’re going to have to ask him.”

PSNI officers have had their annual leave restricted in October and November in case a hard border emerges in Ireland.

In September, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said an armed unit would be deployed in Cavan, 20 minutes from the border.

The British government has proposed mobile customs units to monitor smuggling, instead of erecting physical checkpoints.

This will include an increased police presence along the border to clamp down on dissident activity.

Over the past year, the New IRA and the Continuity IRA has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians and police, including the murder of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee in April in Londonderry.

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