Belfast Telegraph

No-deal Brexit will encourage 'greater dissident republican violence' and create a loyalist 'backlash', warns Sylvia Hermon

Lady Sylvia Hermon
Lady Sylvia Hermon
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

A hardening of the Irish border post-Brexit will incentivise dissident republican violence and could lead to a backlash from loyalist paramilitaries, a Northern Ireland MP has warned.

MP Sylvia Hermon, speaking in parliament on Thursday morning, said she was "extremely concerned" that the government views a no-deal exit from the EU as acceptable.

The North Down MP said such a scenario would have "very serious consequences" for Northern Ireland.

"The consequences will be, if there is any hardening of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, it will incentivise dissident republicans who are already attacking the PSNI. It will incentivise them to even greater violence along the border," she said.

"And with that there will be a backlash, certainly a reaction, from loyalists. I don't predict that with any pleasure at all. I think that this government should be aware of the consequences of a no-deal in Northern Ireland."

Lady Hermon's comments drew anger from DUP MPs Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell, who shouted "disgraceful" and "outrageous" as she spoke.

The independent MP added that a no-deal would "embolden" Sinn Fein to campaign for a border poll in order to take Northern Ireland out of the UK into a united Ireland.

"The government needs to be extremely mindful, and for the minister to imply that it is acceptable that we leave without a deal is totally unacceptable," she added.

James Duddridge MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, replying to Lady Hermon, said the government wanted a Brexit deal but that no-deal "remains a possibility".

He added that the government was committed to the Belfast Agreement and that he had visited Belfast and the Irish border to hear concerns. 

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