The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Simon Byrne, has warned that a no-deal Brexit that would return a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland may revive paramilitary groups and extremism.
Byrne told BBC Radio 4 Today that the hard border could become "a trigger and a fueling point" for more people to join extremist groups. According to him, Northern Ireland’s "political vacuum" and uncertainty about the future are among the factors that fuel criminal activity in the region.
"If we get this wrong we could drift back to almost a paramilitary style of policing", Byrne said.
The remarks come after two violent accidents occurred in Northern Ireland earlier this week. On Wednesday, a man was shot in the legs in northern Belfast in what police called a "paramilitary style" shooting. On Monday, Malcolm McKeown, 54, a high-profile career criminal was shot six times in his car in Waringstown.
The United Kingdom was initially supposed to leave the European Union on March 29, but the UK parliament’s failure to approve then-Prime Minister Theresa May's deal resulted in the deadline being moved to October 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it clear that he wanted the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on October 31 "come what may," although he said he preferred an orderly exit. He has been calling on the European Commission to drop the clause that seeks to avoid a hard Irish border by tying the country to the EU customs union, despite Brussels saying it will not reopen negotiations.