Obama aide calls for new taskforce for north post-Brexit

The former security adviser to the Obama administration has called for the establishment of a high-powered taskforce to prevent the prospect of “violent extremism” unfolding in Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Michael Ortiz, a renowned expert in counter-terrorism, said further law-enforcement measures were required as political leaders “grapple with the concept of a united Ireland”.

Mr Ortiz, who served in the White House for eight years, said Ireland and Northern Ireland had “long struggled with terrorism” and that “tremendous progress in security” had been evident in recent years.

But in a submission to Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Ortiz said further security measures were needed.

“As leaders across the island grapple with the concept of a united Ireland, it is important to consider the ways in which future violence could be prevented, including by strengthening counter-terrorism and law-enforcement efforts, supporting civil society organisations, and religious and educational institutions, and providing citizens with the tools they need to intervene during the radicalisation process,” he wrote.

Mr Ortiz said a new taskforce should develop a national strategy on the area of countering violent extremism. “It is absolutely critical that a wide range of voices, including government officials, law enforcement, civil society and educators, among others, be involved in the creation of this strategy.”

He said such a move would “go a long way in working to prevent terrorism before it starts”.

Mr Ortiz is one of several high-profile experts who contributed to the report, which was authored by Fianna Fáil senator for Kerry Mark Daly.

It is the first report of any Oireachtas committee on how the State would go about achieving a united Ireland.

The paper, obtained by the Irish Independent, makes several recommendations which are all made in the context of a referendum being held on a 32-county republic.

The committee says the Government must negotiate for the North to be “designated with a special status within the EU and for the whole island of Ireland to remain within the EU together”.

It says that the Government must approach the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to “declare that Irish reunification would be supported by the EU” in the event of a referendum being passed.

The document itself, which runs to some 1,200 pages, is likely to form a strong basis for any future campaign to secure a referendum on a united Ireland.

Irish Independent, Niall O’Connor: http://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/obama-aide-calls-for-new-taskforce-for-north-postbrexit-35601944.html

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