Brexit is putting Northern Ireland’s Fire and Rescue Service under a “critical” threat of “reduced operational cover, [and] delays in responding to incidents” which will lead to “a negative impact on both public and firefighter safety” according to the fire service’s internal risk register which has been uncovered as a result of a freedom of information request.
Commenting, Owen Smith MP, former Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary and leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“The threat to the people of Northern Ireland from the Brexit mess is not limited to the damage it will do to the peace process. Like everywhere else in the UK, Northern Ireland’s public services could be dealt a devastating blow by Brexit and that is one of the reasons why momentum behind the demand for a People’s Vote is growing all the time.”
The NIFRS identify the critical risk coming from the battering Sterling has taken on the foreign exchanges since the 2016 referendum and from the threat of tariffs on imports from the EU27 after Brexit.
As well as this “critical” risk, the NIFRS identifies additional areas of “high” risk:
- Disruptions to supply chains and the threat of restrictions on procurement, including the possibility of delays in buying equipment and supplies;
- The threat of a 20% price rise due to further currency devaluation;
Several other areas are identified as being of “medium” risk, including the ability of fire service staff to cross the border in emergencies – with Counties Donegal and Louth named as being at risk of losing support from Northern Ireland.
Owen Smith MP added: “Too many politicians in Northern Ireland are treating Brexit as an opportunity to play the old sectarian games. That is why it is time the people took back control of this process and demanded a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Nationalist or Unionist, Leave or Remain – nobody in Northern Ireland voted to put their life at risk from fire and it is irresponsible for so-called political leaders to prefer to argue about the constitution than to act to keep people safe.”