Belfast Telegraph

This scaremongering over Brexit threat needs to stop

The PSNI has asked for officers with training to volunteer to help ahead of Britain leaving the EU
The PSNI has asked for officers with training to volunteer to help ahead of Britain leaving the EU
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Every day we hear a new Brexit scare story. From no food on supermarket shelves to no medicine. Now it's riots.

The PSNI has issued an appeal for riot-trained officers from Britain in anticipation of potential disruption following Brexit.

In an email to other police forces, it asks for officers with "level 2 public order training" to volunteer to assist it ahead of March 29.

This is pure madness. Does the PSNI seriously believe that thousands of people here will take to the streets and hijack cars, burn buses and hurl petrol bombs because of Brexit?

Are the intelligence services hearing of plans to erect barricades and create no-go areas in protest at the UK leaving the EU?

Who on earth does the PSNI think will be causing serious civil disturbances? Those most angered by Brexit are the middle-classes and they're hardly known for their street politics.

The youth of south Belfast and North Down won't be getting criminal records over Brexit.

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Sinn Fein is fully signed up to the peace process and the era of it bringing its supporters onto the streets in anger is long gone. Gerry Kelly's tussle with a wheel clamp is as revolutionary as it gets these days.

That leaves us with republican dissidents. They aim to cause as much chaos as possible in Northern Ireland but for a host of reasons their capabilities are severely limited. Besides, it is not as if customs checkpoints - let alone British military watch-towers - are about to be erected along the border on March 29.

Dissident republican leaders were committed to continuing 'armed struggle' long before Brexit was on the agenda and they will remain so even if we end up staying in the EU. In terms of republican youth, the PSNI's use of stop and search powers in some working-class nationalist areas is a far bigger recruiting sergeant for dissident groups than Brexit ever could be.

There are very legitimate concerns about what happens economically post-Brexit. But those constantly presenting over-the-top Armageddon scenarios are damaging their own cause.

They are risking an increasingly cynical public just switching off.

The warnings of a stock market crash, mass unemployment and a recession immediately after the 2016 vote never materialised. Brexit, for better or for worse, will be a slow burn - and the scaremongering stories need called out.

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