The Good Friday agreement is perhaps one of the most important and successful peace agreements since World War 2 ended. Signed on 10 April 1998 it brought peace and stability in Northern Ireland and the end of the terrorism that was a daily occurrence during the Troubles. It has held strongly over a long period but it has been fraying at the sides in recent years. The death of young journalist Lyra McKee on 18 April 2019 was a very dark day indeed and there has been an increased number of terrorist related incidents in recent years. It has turned very sinister in recent months and this has grown further since January 2021.
The news from Northern Ireland overnight is very concerning.
All regulatory animal-based food checks have been suspended at Belfast and Larne ports, Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has said.
It comes after council staff at Larne Port were withdrawn from inspection duties amid concerns for their safety and welfare.
A DAERA spokesman said: “On the basis of information received today and pending further discussions with the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland), DAERA has decided in the interests of the wellbeing of staff to temporarily suspend physical inspections of products of animal origin at Larne and Belfast.
We all know the history of Northern Ireland but on his last visit there Boris Johnson clearly said there would be no checks on goods imported into the province from the UK. General Election 2019: Johnson insists no NI-GB goods checks after Brexit – BBC News Could this political lie cause the peace process to unravel in Northern Ireland?
The threats to the border staff were initially thought to be coming from Loyalist paramilitary groups but are now thought to be the work of a few hard-line individuals. However in the event of an attack on any border infrastructure there is concern that there would be retaliation from Republican terrorist groups.
Peace is hanging from a thread and this thread is now barely visible and its strength much diminished.
These are troubling times and a grim reminder of the past. We can only hope and pray that nothing happens but Brexit has reopened all the old tensions and there will be dark days ahead for all.
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