There are increasing fears that a new dissident republican organisation could be planning a serious attack.
The new group was formed from the Real IRA and Republican Action Against Drugs, as well as other non-aligned dissidents
The coalition publicly emerged in a series of statements last week.
It said that it would operate under the constitution of the IRA.
So far it is thought to have only carried out one so-called punishment shooting last week.
“While it might be a news story, it’s not a new story,” a senior dissident commented — pointing to the fact that in the background this co-operation has been developing for a “long, long, long time”.
Although it has not yet emerged, the source said that he believed a propaganda video had already been made as part of plans to launch the new organisation.
Just days after publicly announcing itself, the make-up and leadership of the new ‘IRA’ organisation are being discussed as open secrets across the republican community — both within dissident and mainstream sectors.
This is being viewed as the big weakness in this new terror plot — that those behind it are known both inside their own communities and to intelligence agencies.
The source predicted that, as one of its first steps, the dissident coalition would now form an IRA wing inside Maghaberry Prison.
Up until now, Real IRA and “unaffiliated” dissidents have shared what is known as the “Republican Collective Landing” in prison — separating themselves from Oglaigh na hEireann and Continuity IRA prisoners.
Those dividing lines inside the jail have now been drawn on the outside.
Of the so-called independent dissidents, a source revealed: “Some are a handful of years away from the over-60 club,” but added that they were “significant and influential figures”.
It was this independent faction that publicly admitted to the killing of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr a little over a year ago, and which supplied the gunmen for the attack on Massereene Barracks in 2009 — their ability to kill is not in doubt.
But what they do not have, as yet, is a capacity to sustain a long campaign of violence.