"The European Union, in fact, is trying to unleash, in a certain form, a civil war in Ireland […] to resume the conflict that existed in Ireland", Le Pen told the BFMTV broadcaster.
Le Pen noted that the European Union aimed at making the divorce as painful as possible. She, nevertheless, stressed that it could become much more problematic for Brussels itself rather than for London.
The Irish border issue has been the stumbling block in the EU-UK Brexit talks. Both sides have been seeking to avoid the hard border on the island of Ireland, expressing concerns that it may shatter the hard-won peace in the region. In November, Brussels and London agreed on the Brexit deal, including the so-called backstop that would be put into practice if the sides failed to agree on all the terms of their relationship by the end of the Brexit transition period.
The backstop would keep the United Kingdom in single customs territory with the bloc, while Northern Ireland would be aligned to some of the EU single market rules. The UK parliament, however, rejected the draft Brexit deal mainly due to the backstop earlier in January.
Moreover, on 19 January, Londonderry faced a car bomb attack. The authorities suspected the New Irish Republican Army (New IRA) dissident paramilitary group of plotting the bomb and shooting attacks. The New IRA, which has been reportedly behind a number of attacks over the recent years, seeks a united Ireland and rejects Northern Ireland’s current political institutions.
Local media have also reported, citing UK counter-terrorism officials, that they feared the group would use public concerns over the prospect of a hard border on the island of Ireland due to looming Brexit in their interests.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has reported that hundreds of the British police officers were engaged in special drills in order to be rapidly dispatched to Northern Ireland to cover the possibility of unrest due to a disorderly UK withdrawal from the European Union.
The Irish government fears harsh Brexit-related consequences for its trade due to the possibility of the establishment of the hard border on the island of Ireland after the withdrawal.