Belfast Telegraph

DUP MLA hits out at no-deal Brexit violence predictions

Gordon Lyons was speaking following the publication of a report analysing the possible results of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Gordon Lyons was speaking following the publication of a report analysing the possible results of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A DUP MLA has hit out at claims violence could return to Northern Ireland "in as little as six weeks" if a hard border was installed following a no-deal Brexit.

The party's east Antrim representative Gordon Lyons was speaking following the publication of a report by Irish Senator Mark Daly and two UNESCO chairmen analysing the possible results of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

"In as little as six weeks it is possible that a hard border could materialise due to a no-deal Brexit, triggering a return to violence in Northern Ireland," the report states.

"All indications are that without direct efforts to engage youth and citizens of all backgrounds, there will also be a return to violence in the event of rushed border poll on the island of Ireland."

Mr Lyons dismissed the predictions as "scaremongering" and said the report is focused on "hype and rhetoric" rather than finding solutions.

"Some in Northern Ireland still cling to the use of bombs and bullets. That terrorism predates the EU referendum and it should not be in any way excused or explained by whether a deal is in place or not when the UK leaves the EU," he said.

"An acceptance that violence is inevitable and the only question is over the scale of such trouble following Brexit, completely undermines any sensible analysis of the issues we face.

"It does not matter whether the authors foresee this violence arising from a no-deal Brexit or, as they have also referenced, from rushing to a border poll.

"We require a clear and unified voice from right across the community that there are no circumstances in which such violence is justified."

The report comes as Prime Minister Theresa May heads back to Brussels this week to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, where she will be seeking changes to her withdrawal agreement.

Last month MPs voted to replace the controversial backstop, which is designed to a hard border on the island of Ireland, with "alternative arrangements".

The EU and Irish Government, however, have repeatedly stated that the backstop is not up for renegotiation.

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