Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: Brexit scaremongering chorus grows

Suzanne Breen

Lady Sylvia Hermon isn't the first, and certainly won't be the last, politician to introduce a bogeyman into the Brexit debate.

If there's a hard border "we will see the return of violence in Northern Ireland", she told the House of Commons yesterday.

This wasn't a 'possibly', 'maybe' or 'likely'. The independent unionist didn't venture a prediction couched with caveats. She presented it as a statement of fact.

The danger of bombs and bullets once again becoming commonplace on our streets makes for an emotive argument. It has been employed by staunch Remainers like Tony Blair, Peter Hain and John Major. It is also useful ammunition for Dublin politicians who are understandably worried about the effect Brexit will have on their economy.

There are many legitimate concerns around Brexit and its effects on both sides of the border. But claiming it's a ticking time bomb for the peace process is quite simply scaremongering.

The customs checkpoints which existed along the border for almost half a decade after partition played no part in violence erupting here in 1969.

That IRA campaign was firmly rooted in the denial of civil rights - jobs, housing and political equality. A return to the border as we knew it from the 1970s onwards - with British soldiers in watchtowers on the hillsides above checkpoints - is not on the cards.

Of course, the introduction of any infrastructure will serve as a reminder - and perhaps an uncomfortable one for some - that partition and the border still do exist. But the youth of Ballymurphy or the Bogside will not go out to kill or be killed because of customs controls.

And who exactly are expected to wage any new armed campaign anyway? The Provisionals' war is over.

Dissident republicans are having some success in recruiting young people in working-class nationalist areas, but I guarantee that none of those joining up are citing Brexit and the possibility of customs posts as their reasons.

Belfast Telegraph


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