June 3, 2018 / 8:29 PM / 3 months ago

Northern Irish police to retain disused stations as Brexit precaution

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Northern Ireland’s police will not sell three disused stations along the Irish border as previously planned, a precautionary Brexit measure taken just days after asking for more officers to help secure the frontier.

The border between British-run Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland will be the UK’s only land frontier with the EU after it leaves the bloc and authorities fear a return of any kind of checkpoints could be a target for militant groups who beset the province with violence until a peace deal in the late 1990s.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had intended selling the three stations of Castlederg in the west, Aughnacloy in the south and Warrenpoint, the easterly coastal town that is home to Northern Ireland’s second largest port.

“In light of the vote to leave the EU, we are reviewing decisions we previously made about some of our stations identified for disposal. Accordingly, it is our intention to pause the disposal of three stations in border areas,” Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said in a statement on Sunday.

“As the PSNI has not yet received details regarding potential border arrangements, this is a precautionary step to ensure that, whatever Brexit looks like in the future, we will be able to continue to keep our communities safe.”

The head of the police service said last week that the PSNI will ask the British government for more officers as well as other investments to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities after Brexit.

While both European Union and British negotiators say they are committed to keeping the border open after Brexit, finding a practical solution is still proving elusive with just a few months to run in Britain’s withdrawal talks.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by David Evans

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