Taskforce vital to peace in NI, says Obama’s former security adviser

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

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

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

But in a submission to the Republic’s  Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Ortiz said further security measures are 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 will “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 Mark Daly, the Fianna Fail senator for Kerry. It is the first report of any Oireachtas committee on how the State would go about achieving a United Ireland. The paper makes several recommendations which are all in the context of a referendum being held on a 32-county republic. The committee says the Irish government must negotiate for Northern Ireland 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 Irish government must approach 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.

Belfast Telegraph, Niall O’Connor http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/taskforce-vital-to-peace-in-ni-says-obamas-former-security-adviser-35601747.html

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