Dissident threat sparks cross-border security summit
British and Irish government ministers meet this morning for a cross-border security summit on the threat posed by dissident republicans.
The talks will focus on the increased campaign of terror being waged by the renegade gangs with more than 30 attacks or attempted attacks on security targets since the start of the year.
Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern will jointly review the latest police assessments of the extent of the threat and determine whether fresh initiatives should be launched against the dissidents.
They will also hear updated intelligence reports from Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.
The PSNI and Garda are particularly concerned that recent arrests have confirmed their fears that the renegades have succeeded in attracting new recruits, who had not previously been known as republican supporters.
Officers are also worried that the level of bombing expertise has increased within their ranks in Northern Ireland in recent months and they are now managing to detonate bombs that previously failed to explode.
The director general of MI5 Jonathan Evans warned last week that while the dissidents did not have the capacity to return to the levels of violence reached by the Provisional IRA at the height of the Troubles, he believed they represented a “real and rising security challenge”.
However, anti-terrorist officers north and south have dismissed claims by the Real IRA that they were planning a new campaign against security and financial targets in Britain.
The police experts say the dissidents do not have the capacity at present to launch attacks overseas and have no intelligence on either side of the border to suggest that any of the groups is close to a major expansion of a campaign of violence to include financial institutions and bankers.