Belfast Telegraph

Belfast bomb another desperate bid to make a big score

By Brian Rowan

You get the sense it is only a matter of time before the dissidents "score".

Sunday night's bomb is part of what the Chief Constable described yesterday as a "surge".

You see what he means in a recent pattern of activity – the device under a former police officer's car, the bomb placed on a bus in Londonderry, the disruptive alerts, the letter-bombs.

All of this is a reminder that under their many different names the dissident groups are still out there. A PSNI source commented: "They are doing their best to try to score something, somewhere."

Go back 15-16 years to the split within the IRA and the emergence of the dissident threat. Among those who walked were senior figures with expertise in weapons and explosives, so it is no surprise that within dissident ranks there are those who can produce the type of bomb used on Sunday.

A previous intelligence assessment revealed that some of the devices were being built by bomb makers in border areas and transported to Belfast for targeting.

On Sunday night, the detonator made a loud enough bang when it exploded. But had it triggered the 50-60 kilos of homemade explosives, as intended, it would have left a more lasting mark.

The dissidents wanted a big score and bigger headlines.

There is a pattern which shows these groups are at their most active during significant political periods. This time it is the Haass talks which are addressing the unfinished business of the peace process.

The dissidents are trying to keep themselves in the news, even though they know that what they are doing is not going to change any of the political agreements.

No one was hurt this time. But what about the next time and the next bomb?

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