Delegation meets over dissident threat
A north Belfast MP and his party colleagues have met with senior police officers this week in an attempt to learn more about the police response to dissident terrorism in north Belfast and how the police are dealing with the threat — after a bomb was planted on a soldier’s car in Ligoniel at the weekend.
Accompanying Mr Dodds in the DUP delegation were Alderman William Humphrey MLA, Councillor Lee Reynolds and Councillor Brian Kingston, and they met with PSNI Superintendent Barbara Gray and Chief Inspector Andrew Freeburn at Antrim Road PSNI station.
Following the meeting Mr Dodds said: “We are particularly concerned that there have been a number of incidents in North Belfast over the past year.
“The police assessment remains that the numbers involved in dissident republican terrorism are relatively small but this narrowly-averted bombing shows that they retain the capacity and intention to inflict bloodshed and death.
“The PSNI has received additional resources and will be maintaining additional patrols in north and west Belfast and other areas to counter this threat. We would call on the public to co-operate with the police and to tolerate any inconvenience arising from this additional police activity. A dedicated team of officers has been established to carry out a thorough investigation into this latest incident and we again urge anyone who has any knowledge or information which can assist that investigation to pass it on to the police.”
Mr Dodds added: “We took the opportunity to raise some other recent incidents of crime in north Belfast and to receive an update on the police investigation into these.”
Alliance north Belfast representative Cllr Billy Webb condemned last week’s incident. “The people responsible for this attempted bomb attack are offering nothing to our society. They are a bunch of callous individuals who must be stopped before anybody else is hurt or worse.
“I am just glad that this device did not explode and that no one was hurt.”
SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said people in his constituency were distressed after this latest bombing incident in the north of the city.
He said: “This is a very sinister and disturbing incident which could have killed or seriously injured innocent people in our community. While this has undoubtedly been very traumatic for the man who discovered the bomb, it has also been very distressing for residents who had to evacuate their homes.
“People here want to live in peace and violence in any form is totally unjustifiable and is rejected by the overwhelming majority of people in north Belfast,” he added.
The terror group Oglaigh na hEireann last week claimed to have targeted a serving soldier with the booby-trap bomb in Ligoniel.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “As has already been stated the terrorist threat across Northern Ireland remains severe. The PSNI is committed to delivering a professional, protective policing service that works in partnership with community and residents to enhance community safety.
“We would reiterate our appeal for anyone who may have information relating to the viable device which was found in a Red Vauxhall Astra on January 5, in Blackdam Court, Ligoniel or anyone who may have seen anything suspicious throughout Wednesday night or Thursday morning to contact detectives at North Queen Street on 0845 600 8000.”