Northern Ireland news

International security experts warn second Brexit vote could lead to violence

A burning car in east Belfast in January 2013 after police tried to separate loyalist and nationalists as protesters returned from a flag protest at city hall

INTERNATIONAL security and counter terrorism consultants have warned Brexit renegotiation or a second referendum will both be `lose/lose' for Northern Ireland, predicting an upsurge of paramilitary violence.

Transformational Policing Associates (TPA) has prepared a briefing document plotting the possible Brexit scenarios, including No Deal, Major Renegotiation, Another Referendum, a General Election and Cancel Brexit and the possible protest and disorder that could occur following each.

It follows "increasing inquiries from private sector businesses seeking advice on how to prepare for any public order disruption during the Brexit transition period".

TPA International Policing advisor Allan Jones warned "none of these scenarios (forecast) well.. and in our professional opinion protest is to be expected in an arena of such high tension".

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The report contains recommendations for the commercial sector to limit the risks in each scenario.

"There is no point burying our heads in the sand as one of these scenarios is going to play out.

"We certainly do not intend to scaremonger but we are urging the private sector to start planning and preparing now to mitigate against all possible negative consequences."

TPA predictions:

* No Deal

"A `No Deal', if it results in a `hard border' on the island of Ireland, will inevitably lead to protests by communities in the border area and beyond and has the potential to resurrect historical animosities and tensions. Such a scenario could also be exploited for political ends.

Dissident republican groups will also seek to exploit the narrative that Brexit is an English imposition on the people of Ireland (with a view to recruitment and community support)."

* Major Renegotiation

"This is potentially a lose/lose situation for society in Northern Ireland as the negotiations will either remove or retain the `backstop' element of the rejected deal (leading to) customs checks on the southern side and... customs and security checks on the north side. The idea of pushing these checks back away from the border in the north creates a `free play area' for organised crime and terrorism."

"It is likely that dissident republican groups will view the imposition of a hard border as a recruiting narrative."

"If the backstop is retained, it... has the potential to lead to significant (loyalist) protest. It is worth noting that the so-called `Flag Protests' (over four months with 160 officers injured) in Belfast in 2012 presented a significant challenge for policing. The total cost of the policing operation was £21.9 million."

* Another Referendum

"It is very probable there would be loyalist protest if the decision were reversed."

* Cancel Brexit

"While this scenario may cause some discussion in unionist circles, it resolves the backstop problem leaving Northern Ireland an integral part of the United Kingdom. What protest there might be is unlikely to be protracted or violent on the scale previously seen in Northern Ireland."

"There would be a need to police the interfaces between communities, as it is almost inevitable that yepublican areas would be publicly displaying EU flags."

The briefing document is available on the TPA website: https://www.transformationalpolicingassociates.com/press-office

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