Northern Ireland news

Karen Bradley refuses to say if PSNI will get extra funds to police border

Karen Bradley has refused to say if the PSNI will get extra money to police the border. File picture by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye
Aoife Moore, Press Association

SECRETARY of State Karen Bradley has refused to say whether the PSNI will receive additional funding for policing the border post-Brexit.

In a letter from PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, quoted to Mrs Bradley during today's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, he said his concerns over Brexit have left him feeling orphaned.

Mr Hamilton added that as a senior public official he was getting very little support from those he would expect it from.

Lady Sylvia Hermon warned the committee that dissident republicans and the new IRA are recruiting, and organised crime gangs see the potential to exploit the border in the wake of the UK leaving the EU.

She asked: "Are you saying to people of Northern Ireland that they should not have expectations for more resources?

"Is the Chief Constable whistling in the dark?"

Mrs Bradley replied she had spoken to the Chief Constable about his concerns and the matter will be discussed on Friday's Cabinet meeting and in the upcoming Brexit white paper.

"We are making sure he has people he can rely on in cabinet for leaving the EU," she said.

"We accept the PSNI has additional difficulties over other forces; the PSNI is the only force that will have to police a land border - a unique situation in the UK.

"Our role as Northern Ireland office is that we are a liaison and coordination department to enable the requests and the concerns of the Chief Constable has raised are dealt with accordingly.

"I want to be clear: I do not have executive powers, I cannot direct civil service, and I don't have a budget."

Lady Hermon pressed Mrs Bradley, telling her the people of Northern Ireland would be watching.

She said: "You sit in cabinet, with the Home Secretary, with the Prime Minister and the Brexit secretary.

"I'm not asking about budget, I want confirmation for people of Northern Ireland, who are watching, that the concerns of the Chief Constable of the PSNI, as you described in a unique situation, that you actually discuss his concerns with these people."

Mrs Bradley replied: "I absolutely do, I'm the advocate for Northern Ireland and have raised the issues in cabinet and they will be properly addressed and dealt with.

"The budget I'm taking through was put forward in March for the coming year, in the normal course of business, spending bids come in and are considered.

"I'm not making any comment, they are still being considered and it would be inappropriate for me to say anything further."

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