Jim Allister: PSNI chief playing politics by talking up terror threat post-Brexit

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

The PSNI’s chief constable is “playing politics” by “talking up” the threat of terrorism along the border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, TUV leader Jim Allister has claimed.

Giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the North Antrim MLA and barrister said the primary duty of the chief constable is to police the current political arrangements, whatever they may be.

His remarks came after independent unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon asked Mr Allister if he accepted George Hamilton’s analysis of the policing situation along the border post-Brexit.

“The chief constable has repeatedly and consistently said we must not underestimate the threat from dissident republicans along the border,” she added.

In response, Mr Allister told the committee: “I can accept that he is playing politics. Is he really saying that we must cut our cloth on Brexit in order to pander to a terrorist threat? Have we really got to the point where we are building our politics and our international agreements on pandering to terrorism.”

Mr Allister also slammed warnings by head of the NI civil service David Sterling over the potential implications of a no-deal Brexit, describing the remarks as “unbalanced” and “reeking of politics”.

He has now written to the top Stormont mandarin challenging him on why he is “ignoring the threat to Northern Ireland’s economy posed by the backstop”.

Mr Allister’s letter stated: “I am still waiting on you publishing an analysis of the proffered alternative of the disastrous backstop proposal and the impact of the resulting Irish Sea regulatory border on the NI economy.

“I also note the imbalance of your report in that there was not a mention of the opportunities of Brexit.

“In circumstances where you were delivering a doom laden message for the agri-food industry, would it not have shown some semblance of balance to evaluate the corresponding opportunity for the NI farming industry if there was a void of supply to be filled in the GB market in consequence of ROI exports equally facing tariffs? Or did that not fit the agenda?”