Belfast Telegraph

Call for 1,000 extra terror police

An extra 1,000 police are needed to combat Northern Ireland's growing terror threat, rank and file officers have warned.

The threat from dissident republicans and other paramilitaries risks undermining the country's bid for more tourists and more investment, Police Federation chairman Terry Spence added.

He said 50/50 recruitment of Catholics could continue to fill the void, and tackling the security situation should take priority over other parts of the justice system.

There have been more than 90 terrorist incidents since the beginning of the year, according to the organisation head. Yet the federation's annual conference near Belfast heard ministers were deluded about the gravity of the threat and persisting in running down the Full-Time Reserve, dismantling the intelligence networks and defortifying barracks.

Mr Spence said: "These hasty and indeed costly decisions were taken by people dazzled with the excitement of devolution.

"They were determined to see a new horizon of peace. Where they saw peace, most of us, who have lived and policed here, saw only an illusion and tried to tell them so but to our cost, they claimed to know better.

"Those who have come to serve in Northern Ireland should recognise the centuries-old nature of the divisions which plague our communities. Those divisions remain deep-seated."

Policing and justice powers were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly in April and David Ford was appointed the first Justice Minister. He was in the audience at the conference near Comber, Co Down, which was attended by over 170 delegates and representatives of UK, Ireland and other international police associations.

Since the beginning of the year there have been eight bomb and 15 gun attacks. More than 80 officers have been injured during rioting orchestrated by dissidents, while about 30 officers have applied for emergency re-housing because of threats to their lives and those of their immediate families.

Mr Spence added: "The unpalatable truth is that we as serving police officers and even retired officers are back to examining the underside of our vehicles again. It is with an enormous sense of having been here before that we have deep concerns for our safety and even more so for that of our families."

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