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No-deal Brexit risks violence in Northern Ireland

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has warned MI5 that it cannot afford to cut resources devoted to countering terrorism in Northern Ireland because of the risk of a rise in violence in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Warning that dissident republicanism remained resilient, MPs on the committee said that issues could possibly inflame further if ‘border infrastructure’ were to reappear along the frontier with the Republic of Ireland. The committee has warned MI5 against changing the amount of resources it currently gives to Northern Ireland, suggesting that any change to the current 20 per cent of resource allocation ‘would seem to be premature in the light of the uncertainty’.

The ISC also said that Brexit could ‘reignite the threat from loyalist groups that have previously held a ceasefire’, hinting that the threat may come from beyond dissident republicans.

Dissident republicanism is concentrated in four small groups, the most active of which is the New IRA, which admitted it was behind the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee in April 2019. Despite public revulsion over the killing, the number of attacks has been increasing from very low levels.

In its press release, the ISC said that ‘taking experienced terrorists off the streets through criminal prosecutions is critical to reducing the capabilities and numbers of Dissident Republican groups, and must be a priority for MI5’, but said that work must be undertaken to ‘consider how criminal justice outcomes can be improved’.

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