A key negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement has warned any physical custom posts and checks erected along the Derry/Donegal border in the wake of Brexit will become ‘tempting targets’ for physical force republicans.
Dr. Ray Bassett, an Irish diplomat who was heavily involved in the talks leading up to the 1998 peace accord, argued that the ongoing stand-off between London and Brussels over responsibility for the design of a new Irish border could have grave consequences for the North West.
“We are facing the unpleasant prospect of future confrontations in the border areas,” warned Dr. Bassett, writing in the ‘Sunday Business Post’.
“Any erection of custom facilities on either side of that invisible line will inevitably become tempting targets for dissident republicans and local demonstrations,” he wrote.
He made the comments after both the British and European chief Brexit negotiators, David Davis and Michel Barnier, respectively asserted that the problem of the border was the other’s responsibility.
Mr. Davis’ recent position paper on Ireland, proposed “no physical infrastructure at the border”, however, Mr. Barnier, in his response to this last week, declared: “The onus to propose solutions which overcome the challenges created on the island of Ireland by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and its decision to leave the customs union and the internal market remains on the United Kingdom.”
Dr. Bassett argued that failing to address the issue of the border and customs arrangements and allowing the erection of a hard border was irresponsible.
“It could cause massive disruption. No representative group or political party on this island wants it, but the EU paper implies we may have to put up with it,” he wrote.