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PSNI provide further evidence of Brexit shambles

By this stage of the Brexit process, with just nine months to go before the official date of withdrawal from the EU, there should be firm preparations under way in key areas such as policing and security.

However, it is clear from the chief constable's evidence to the Westminster Northern Ireland Committee yesterday that with major change looming, bringing with it far-reaching implications for the PSNI, he has been left 'in the dark' as he attempts to prepare his service.

George Hamilton said that he has a business plan but no one to present it to as there is no senior official or minister taking responsibility for co-ordinating the operational, strategic and constitutional issues around the border.

It is an extraordinary state of affairs and deeply unsatisfactory that the police service has been left adrift during a crucial period.

Mr Hamilton is arguing he needs an additional 400 officers to help deal with Brexit as well as legacy issues but there seems to be no movement on the request for further resources.

The border and staffing levels are just some of the issues that are piling up in the absence of a devolved government, which is also having a knock on effect on the working of the Policing Board.

It is the board which appoints senior officers such as the deputy chief constable, a post that will become vacant when Drew Harris takes up his new job as commissioner of An Garda Síochána in September.

Although he has faced criticism over the progress of legacy cases, there is no doubt that Mr Harris is a highly experienced professional who has himself had to deal first hand with the terrible consequences of violence, losing his senior police officer father in an IRA car bomb.

The fact that a former RUC officer has been chosen to lead the Republic's police force is quite remarkable although it has to be said he is taking on an enormously challenging task.

Hopefully, this is a positive move for An Garda Síochána while his appointment should herald even better cross border police co-operation as we move into the post-Brexit era.

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