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Dissident republican threat to Great Britain upgraded - MI5 says 'strong possibility of attack'

Published 11/05/2016

Masked men at the Easter Rising parade in west Belfast
Masked men at the Easter Rising parade in west Belfast
Masked men at a funeral in Derry
Masked dissident republicans parade through streets of Dublin

British security service MI5 has upgraded the threat level from dissident republicans to mainland Great Britain from "moderate" to "severe" meaning an attack is a "strong possibility".

Westminster Home Secretary Theresa May informed the House of Commons that security service MI5 believes a Northern Ireland-related terror attack on Great Britain has increased.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the level, which applies to England, Scotland and Wales, "reflects the continuing threat from dissident republican activity".

The threat level in Northern Ireland remains at severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

Theresa May, in a House of Commons written statement, said: "The Security Service, MI5, has increased the threat level to Great Britain from Northern Ireland-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.

"This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility and reflects the continuing threat from dissident republican activity.

"As a result of this change, we are working closely with the police and other relevant authorities to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.

"The threat level to the UK from international terrorism remains unchanged at severe, which means that an attack is highly likely. The threat level to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism also remains unchanged at severe.

"The public should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police."

The most recent dissident republican attack in Northern Ireland was the murder of Prison Officer Adrian Ismay.

A dissident republican group calling itself the new IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Ismay initially survived a booby trap bomb attack on his van on Friday March 4  in east Belfast but died eleven days later.

The 52-year-old married father of three had only driven a short distance from his home when the device detonated as he went over a speed ramp.

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Previous attacks by dissidents in England

Thursday, 1 June 2000: Dissidents are blamed after a device exploded under Hammersmith Bridge in west London.

Wednesday 19 July 2000: Police deal with a bomb near Ealing Broadway Tube station in London.

Friday, 20 September 2000: Dissident republicans launch a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the London HQ of MI6.

Sunday, 4 March 2001: A device explodes in a red taxi parked outside the BBC News Centre in west London.

Saturday, 14 April 2001: A bomb at a Post Office delivery depot at Hendon in north London explodes. There were no injuries.

Thursday, 2 August 2001: A bomb attack targets Ealing Broadway in west London. A number of people are injured.

Saturday, 3 November 2001: Explosion in a car in Birmingham.


DUP Parliamentary spokesman on Home Affairs Gavin Robinson MP said the announcement was a "bleak reminder of evil".

"Whilst the callous murder of Adrian Ismay illustrated starkly the continuing threat in Northern Ireland, this reassessment provides a bleak reminder of evil in our midst.

"We know that nothing will be achieved through terrorism, yet with no purpose, principal or plan, there remain those intent on death and destruction.

"They will not win. Our resolve remains with those in the security services who keep us safe in Northern Ireland and across the Country each and every day.”

Ulster Unionist Fermanagh & South Tyrone MP, Tom Elliott said: "We have seen in recent times the lethal threat still posed by terrorists operating in Northern Ireland and it is concerning to learn that the UK Government is now raising the threat level on the mainland from moderate to substantial. 

"I will be seeking swift clarification from the Government on the reasons for the threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain being raised to substantial.  This is not a decision the security services or Government will have taken lightly.  People need to know which organisations are now posing an increasing threat to the security of the United Kingdom and what level of co-operation there is between these groups.  Irish Republican terrorists have murdered and created destruction for years.  We don’t want any more of these actions, it is time people were allowed to get on with their lives.

"These people need to get the message that they are not supported by the law abiding majority here or anywhere in the United Kingdom.  We have the fortune of living in a time of relative peace but we know that there are still people out there who have the blood lust to murder and injure members of our society.  Today’s raising of the threat level is a reminder of the need for vigilance."

Online Editors

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