Northern Ireland: Brexit border control staff threatened

As predicted by many observers, the European Commission's creation of a "hard-border" issue between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in order to pressurise the UK government during Brexit negotiations is now having the almost inevitable effect of opening old wounds raising the spectre of a return to the troubles of the past.

Following a spate of threatening activities in which border staff have reported seeing individuals noting their vehicle number plates, and threatening graffiti appearing on walls, Northern Ireland has temporarily suspended some post-Brexit checks at two ports, and local councils have withdrawn staff from Belfast and Larne over concerns for their safety.


Meanwhile police said they plan to increase patrols at points of entry.

Whilst there are no indications that loyalist paramilitary groups are involved, graffiti opposing the Irish Sea border has been painted in some loyalist areas of Northern Ireland in recent days, referring to employees as "targets".

“The mood within loyalism is said to be one of discontent, but sources are not suggesting the direction of travel is protests, civil disobedience or violent acts," said BBC Northern Ireland home affairs correspondent Julian O'Neill.

East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson told BBC News NI's Good Morning Ulster programme that police believe the threat to workers and the ports is "credible enough" and concerns are "deep enough."

He added that many of those receiving threats "live in the communities where this anger is being expressed and felt and where sinister elements are saying they are not prepared to allow this work to go on, so they must be protected."

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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