Organised crime and terrorist activity will spiral out of control when Brexit goes ahead, a top security expert has warned.
Dr Tom Clonan said there needs to be a national debate about the risks Ireland is facing and said the threat of violence is “enormous”.
The retired Irish Army captain claimed the Irish Defence Forces are far from prepared to tackle such problems with it currently only having just two military posts along 300 miles of border.
Dr Clonan believes it’s vital the public are made aware of the risks the country face before Brexit becomes a reality in October, including:
- The massive increase in dissident terrorist activity and attacks once Brexit comes into effect.
- How the level of violence both North and South of the border will be enormous and uncontrollable.
- That organised crime and the smuggling of drugs, weapons, people etc will spiral out of control.
- That army and police officers will become targets for terrorist groups, both patrolling the border and going about their daily work.
Speaking to the Irish Sunday Mirror, Dr Clonan said: “The potential for violence is enormous.
“I think the majority of focus has been, understandably, on the economic issues around Brexit.
“But from a security perspective and from a societal perspective, this is the biggest existential threat to the security of the State since the Troubles.
“This is almost unprecedented. Essentially when Brexit comes, deal or no deal, it will provide a very powerful message, a very powerful narrative, to dissident republicans, to the unionist and loyalist community who’s Britishness will be emphasised in a way that has not been mobilised since we joined the European Community, certainly not since the Good Friday Agreement.
“We are absolutely going to see a resurgence of dissident republican violence.
“We have already seen that this year with the court house bombs in Derry, the letter bomb campaign in London. We have seen it we assassination attempts on members of the PSNI.
“And just recently we had the very sinister bomb attack in Fermanagh and that was a classic IRA tactic, what’s called a ‘come on’ device. A hoax bomb on the bridge to try and entice you into the area.
“We are looking at dissident republicans who from a tactical perspective have improved greatly and who from a technical perspective have improved a great deal in terms of their bomb-making capacity and their ability to mount both bomb and gun attacks, car bomb attacks in particular, is very worrying.
“In the Republic the Defence Forces are at their lowest strength. During the Troubles we had in excess of 2,000 Irish troops to man the border with a number of military instillation’s all along the border. Today we only have a fraction of that number, we only have two camps on the border, one is in Dundalk and one is in Donegal and the rest of the 300 miles or so is wide open.
“The Defence Forces are simply not able now, because of their recruitment and retention, to man a border.
“During the Troubles it was the British Army that manned the border and the border infrastructure. At the height of the troubles, the Ulster Defence Regiment, full- time and part-time, between British Army Units and RUC, there were 27,000 armed persons in Northern Ireland.
“In South Armagh in the 80s there was one armed individual for every nine civilians and they still couldn’t stop the violence.
“This time the Brits will not be manning the border or any of its infrastructure, it would cost them too much. The European Union will expect us to do it and that’s a game changer. That means that people in uniform from the Republic will De Facto become targets for paramilitaries. I don’t think the Irish public understand that.”
And Dr Clonan said it’s not just the paramilitaries we have to worry about, adding: “From the point of organised crime, deal or no deal, Ireland will become the frontier between the European Union and Britain.
“We are going to become the international border and that is going to create multi-million euro and sterling opportunities for drug smugglers, for smugglers of everything, medicines, people, guns, everything and anything. It’s really going to multiply.
“People who are already involved in organised crime will step up their operations.
“We are staring down both barrels of a major security threat.”
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