Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Dealing with Brexit a job for our politicians

Sir Hugh Orde
Sir Hugh Orde

Editor's Viewpoint

As time ticks away to March 29, fears over Brexit and what will happen if there's no-deal and a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic continue.

Many voices are heard in this debate, not all credible, but there is no doubting the authority of two former senior PSNI officers who warn about the implications.

The former Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and former Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan are clear about the willingness of dissidents to exploit any chaos. Sir Hugh has stressed that they would view a hard border as an opportunity to mount violent attacks.

When this attitude is coupled with anti-social recklessness as shown in Londonderry last weekend, there is a great risk that they will do all they can to kill and maim.

The dissidents' bomb in Derry on January 19 could have killed or injured many innocent people in the area.

The implied threat is so great that there are reports of MI5 stationing up to 700 officers in Belfast to counter the dissident threat. After 20 years of relative peace, it is hard to believe we could be returning to the darkness of the decades before the Belfast Agreement.

There are major concerns about the position in which we find ourselves, and the continuing and disgraceful lack of a Stormont Executive and Assembly inevitably adds to tension and contributes to the political vacuum in our midst.

Micro-terrorist groups come and go with depressing regularity, but they show that there are always people intent on carrying out a violent campaign which has no credibility and miniscule support.

They display a chilling recklessness in subjecting ordinary men, women and children to life-threatening situations.

It was sheer madness to leave that bomb and endanger innocent people. The dissidents' wanton act demonstrated their contempt for all.

As the reality of Brexit looms nearer, it is imperative that a no-deal must be avoided, in the interests of everyone. Today a representative group of our business and farming communities and trade unions are in London to do all they can to prevent such a dire scenario. For so very many people in Northern Ireland the prospect of a no-deal presents risks and dangers on far too many fronts. It is important, therefore, for everyone to work hard to lobby against such a worrying development. The urgent need for our politicians to get back to Stormont to do the jobs they are paid to do increases with every single day.

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