Former top Derry police officer believes it’s ‘highly foreseeable’ violent republicans will launch border campaign

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Former senior Derry police officer Stephen Martin has warned Westminster’s Brexit committee it is “highly foreseeable” dissident republicans will launch a new border campaign if physical halts and guards are placed on the invisible frontier.

The Assistant Chief Constable said: “If there was infrastructure ...buildings and people that reemphasised the border in a physical, tangible, visible way, I think it is highly foreseeable that dissident republicans would seek to take action against that and that could include attacking the buildings and the people.”

The PSNI’s Head of Crime Operations told the parliamentary committee for Exiting the European Union Committee that while violent republican organisations do not have the “capability or capacity” that the IRA formerly had, they have killed people, and the threat they pose remains severe.

Deputy Chief Constable, Drew Harris, outlined the severity of this threat.

“This year there has been four attempts on the lives of police officers and we have had 58 shooting incidents and 33 bombing incidents this year alone, so there is a threat. It does not often make it into the national press but that threat exists,” said DCC Harris.

The second highest ranking police officer in the North also warned that its own intelligence officers, as well as those of An Garda Síochána and MI5, think violent republicans will use Brexit as a recruiting sergeant.

“Violent dissident republican groups see this as an area that is contentious and will give them a further rallying call to try to engender support and drive their recruitment. It is of concern. We know from information that we have that they have a focus on this, they see it as an opportunity,” he said.