Channel 4 interview shows how devastating any Brexit border in Ireland could be

Support us and go ad-free

Channel 4 News has broadcast an exclusive interview with a serving New IRA (Irish Republican Army) paramilitary. The interviewee made it clear that a reimposed border between the north and south of Ireland would result in paramilitary violence.

The security implications for Boris Johnson’s UK government, and its attempts to find a Brexit deal, are likely significant.

Border infrastructure attacks

The paramilitary told Channel 4 News that any infrastructure relating to customs checks or British occupation would be targeted:

Bearing in mind any installation or aspects of British occupation within the Six Counties [in the north of Ireland] – be it at the border or elsewhere – any infrastructure would be a legitimate target for attack and armed actions against those infrastructures and against the people who are manning them.

Regarding the type of Brexit deal – hard or soft – that is proposed, he added: “[The border] will be resisted regardless of any deal formed around it”.


There have been a number of warnings of New IRA capability over the last few months.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

In 2019 alone, attacks in the north by or attributed to republican paramilitaries included:

  • August: a hoax bomb was found near Wattlebridge (Fermanagh); it was believed to have been planted to lure police to Cavan Road, where a second but real bomb was found.
  • July: a device exploded at Tullygally Road, County Armagh, again apparently to lure police to the area.
  • June: a bomb was found under a police officer’s car at an east Belfast golf club.
  • May: police were attacked with petrol bombs outside a polling station in Derry.
  • April: journalist Lyra McKee was murdered during a riot in Derry.
  • March: letter bombs were posted to five locations, with all but one targeted to recipients on the British mainland.
  • January: a bomb exploded outside a courthouse in Derry.

These incidents might explain why, in recent days, the Johnson government has switched its Brexit emphasis from a likely no-deal situation (which would almost certainly result in a hard border in Ireland) to a possible deal.


Simon Byrne, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, expressed concern for what would happen should a hard border return. And he warned of escalating violence if a ‘no-deal’ Brexit proceeds.

Earlier this year, it was reported that 700 MI5 officers were already in the north of Ireland to deal with any Brexit-related unrest.

Meanwhile, up to 300 police officers from Scotland are to be relocated there should violence escalate because of Brexit. And more could be drafted in from the Metropolitan Police.


On 13 October, the Times published an article claiming “security services in Northern Ireland” had briefed cabinet minister Michael Gove regarding threats by paramilitaries on customs infrastructure:

Johnson may now effectively be hostage to not just the New IRA and its threats of violence, but equally to the demands of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The latter has scuppered Johnson’s proposed deal to the EU – its three main objections being on customs arrangements, consent, and VAT.

Johnson may be forced to seek an extension to the Brexit negotiations, as required under the Benn Act. But should he refuse, the courts will possibly organise that on his behalf. At some stage, meanwhile, there will likely be a vote of no confidence. And if that’s successful, a caretaker government will then seek a general election and at some point a confirmatory referendum.

Featured image via screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us