‘British government withholds crucial information from Brexit debate’ by Sammy McNally


With concerns growing over the impact of Brexit on the peace process in Northern Ireland, the British government, in a response to a freedom of information (FOI) request, has admitted to withholding crucial information regarding the potential security risks of a post-Brexit hard Irish border.

Back in 2016 the then Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers stated that she would  vote to leave the EU and  that there were “risks on both sides of this debate” –  but the “safer option” was to leave.

When Brexit comes about Theresa will be sitting pretty back in England at a safe remove from any security fallout at the Irish border which the Taoiseach has (fairly) described as “one of the most divisive in the world”.

We know from the Northern Ireland office response to the  (FOI) request that a number of document(s) were given by the Security Services to the NIO  briefing them on the security implications of Brexit on the Irish border, but these documents are being withheld on a number of grounds, including the (strange) claim that

“the disclosure of any information informing Ministers of the central issues related to this(EU Exit and border security) might prejudice  the outcome of those negotiations and subsequently might result in damage to the relations between the UK and the rest of the EU.”


We don’t know (at the moment at least) whether Theresa received this information from the Security Services before the referendum and whilst she was still campaigning for Brexit. Of course Theresa has now moved away and has been replaced by James Brokenshire (who opposed Brexit).  I think we can safely assume that Mr Brokenshire who gives the appearance of being a careful and considered operator will have read these security document(s) thoroughly.

And hopefully James can help with the following 6 questions…

  1. Does he agree that these document(s) would help inform the debate on the impact of Brexit on the Irish border?
  1. Did the Security Services pass these document(s) to the NIO in advance of the referendum?
  1. Do the document(s) suggest that Brexit would alter the security risk at the Irish border?
  1. If the document(s) do suggest that Brexit would alter the risk – should the NIO not have shared at least a summarised or redacted version of these document(s) with the public?
  1. Do the document(s) concur with the views of the former Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI, Peter Sheridan, who stated that Brexit could lead to “civil unrest” in Northern Ireland?
  1. Are these document(s) going to be released at some point in the future – and if so when?

If James can indeed answer these questions fully and honestly without trying to hide behind an excuse of ‘National Security’ – which is clearly not  relevant in these specific queries – then perhaps that will be seen as a signal that he is (belatedly) attempting to act as an honest broker in his new role.

One Response to ‘British government withholds crucial information from Brexit debate’ by Sammy McNally

  1. pjdorrian March 15, 2017 at 9:05 am #

    Politicians lie fluently, ministers lie with great facility,