Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Brian Rowan: Dissident threat is there at all times

A man is taken to hospital with a head wound after the explosion at Kingsdale Park near police HQ in East Belfast . October 16, 2009
Police forensic officers examine a red car in Kingsdale Park, Belfast
Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey at the scene of the explosion

What happened this morning tells us a number of things about the dissidents — about how they are spreading their activity and about the threat to police officers and those closest to them.

That threat is on and off duty, and it is about the dissidents saying you cannot relax no matter where you are.

A senior security source spoke recently to this newspaper about how the different groups, including the Real and Continuity IRA, have “upped their operational tempo” — and about how they are “fixated with targeting and attack planning”.

The dissidents know their attacks have to have a surprise element — and this morning’s incident is about that.

If they develop predictable patterns, stay in the areas the police would expect, then that planning will be more easily interrupted and stopped in its tracks.

No one will have been expecting the dissidents in staunchly-unionist east Belfast.

The suggestion is the policeman who was the target is a long-serving officer in the Regular Service.

That will have made it easier for the dissidents to pick up his routine and pattern.

Those dissidents are spreading their activity and spreading fear.

Recently they targeted the relatives of a police officer in Derry, they planned to kill police officers in a “come-on” attack in Forkhill and the alert in Clady earlier this week worried and tied up the security forces for a long period.

The INLA signalled last weekend that its armed |struggle is over — but the |dissidents are saying in |their activity and in their bombs that their war continues.

It is about making as many people as possible feel vulnerable, and it is about some in the republican community who have not accepted new policing and the new way of life here.

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