04/11/2009

Dissident Threat Heightens

The Real and Continuity IRA are working together, with help from experienced former Provisionals, to mount attacks against Northern Ireland security personnel, a report published today has claimed.

According to the Independent Monitoring Commission, the terror threat posed by dissident republicans is at a six-year high and increased notably in the six months proceeding September.

"They [dissident republicans] pose a major challenge to the law enforcement and other agencies on both sides of the border," the body tasked with assessing paramilitary activity said.

The IMC claimed most of the groups' new recruits were "inexperienced young males".

However, support is being provided by former Provisional IRA members who have rejected the new political institutions at Stormont.

"This is not surprising following the dissolution of PIRA's structures," IMC members suggested.

The IMC said these experienced terrorists "significantly added to the threat".

Today's report addressed the period from 1 March until the end of August.
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During this time the Real IRA shot dead two on-duty soldiers outside an Antrim army barracks, followed two days later by the Continuity IRA killing of a serving PSNI constable in Craigavon.

Eleven other attempts to murder police officers were orchestrated over those six months.

"The overall level of dissident activity was markedly higher than we have seen since we first met in late 2003," the report said.

"The seriousness, range and tempo of their activities all changed for the worse in these six months.

"During this period, dissident republicans were violent and showed an intent to kill if the opportunity arose."

Should their capabilities eventually stretch, the dissidents are intent on inflicting violence on mainland Britain, the IMC suggested.

NI Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said the report pointed to the devolution of policing and justice powers as a "potent intervention" to the dissident threat.

“The recently negotiated financial package underlines the government’s commitment to doing all that it can to ensure that there is a solid foundation for an incoming Department of Justice," he said.

"It has always been the case that it is for the Assembly to ask for those powers to be transferred and today’s IMC report should be hugely influential in informing an early decision."

(PR/BMcC)

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