Brexit could turn Northern Ireland border into 'frontier'

A man with an EU flag in London the day after Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016  (CNS/Neil Hall, Reuters)

A bishop in Northern Ireland has warned that Brexit could lead to acts of violence along the border with Ireland. Source: The Tablet.

Bishop Noel Treanor of the Diocese of Down and Connor, which is near the border in Northern Ireland, said that turning the region into a “frontier” again would inevitably lead to violence.

He told the German Catholic News Agency KNA: “As recently as 20 years ago, we still had the British army, armed checkpoints and police vehicles at the border. My fear is that if the border were once again to become a frontier – with all the necessary infrastructure involved – that will unfortunately almost certainly evoke some sort of violent reaction.”

He said that as soon as that happened, further security measures and a larger police presence would follow.

Bishop Treanor, who is also a vice-president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the EU and President of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions in Brussels, said that Britain and Ireland’s accession to the EU had “created the framework and provided the propellant for overcoming the ongoing conflicts between north and south at the time”.

He said that, thanks to the EU, in the last two decades: “Peace, reconciliation and political progress has become possible in our divided Ireland”. Now, however, he feared that new conflicts and social disruption loomed on the horizon.

Bishop Treanor said that traders, businessmen and contractors would presumably find pragmatic solutions to border issues, but said that the underlying problem was a psychological one.

During the preparations for the Brexit referendum public opinion had been “manipulated by fake news” and the atmosphere was still “strongly polarised and characterised by mutual recriminations and self-promotion”, Bishop Treanor said, and that had prevented the negotiating parties from getting down to the key questions.

The present situation was most worrying, he said, because “political stagnation plus Brexit and possible economic stagnation as well, can have dire consequences for our society."


Bishop warns of 'Brexit disaster' and border violence (The Tablet

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