Belfast Telegraph

Dissidents may use Brexit to spark return to violence, says journalist

Achieving a soft border remains a formidable challenge
Achieving a soft border remains a formidable challenge

Peter Taylor has spoken of his fears that dissident republicans will use Brexit and the border as a recruiting tool.

Speaking after a preview screening of his new BBC documentary, Taylor said Northern Ireland was facing a "very difficult and sensitive time".

He believes Brexit has resuscitated the border issue, which had been parked through the "genius" of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It has resurrected it," said Taylor, who said he was concerned about the threat from dissidents and wanted his documentary to remind people, particularly in Britain, of the dangers facing Northern Ireland of a return to violence.

"It could so easily happen," he said. However, Taylor insisted that he was still optimistic about the future.

"But you have to have a degree of optimism to do what we do," he said. "I have always tried to be optimistic even in some of the darkest days like Enniskillen, which I believe was the launch-pad of the peace process. But it took three decades to make that work."

He described the Agreement as a "most remarkable story of cross-party political achievement".

He added: "How do you make peace out of war? In the end it requires political will.

"The real architect of the peace process was John Major. Tony Blair picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and ran with it."

In the programme Taylor said he believed a united Ireland was "in the tunnel of history, perhaps more likely than not", but only if unionists were party to it.

He also said that if he had been a teenager in Derry at the time of Bloody Sunday he would probably have joined the IRA.

Taylor also said he believed that in relation to the charging of soldiers for killings during the Troubles that the law should take its course, but he questioned claims that only military figures were being investigated.

He said his "controversial" personal opinions were not naive views, adding: "They are qualified and they are based on my long experience over all the years.

"I have never said many of these things before."

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