Belfast Telegraph

'Terror threat risk' over PSNI cuts

Labour frontbencher Shaun Woodward has urged the Government to save Northern Ireland's police from the brunt of public sector cuts, warning of terrorists' "deranged and psychotic intent" to kill.

The shadow Northern Ireland secretary said the coalition should understand that "special circumstances" were required.

In a speech to Labour's annual gathering in Manchester, Mr Woodward also warned ministers not to rule out inquiries into the "terrible events" of the Troubles.

He told party members: "In fixing the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor (George Osborne) must give particular care to the needs of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

"I do not doubt that greater efficiency can be found by the PSNI - just as it can by my own police in Merseyside or any force in this country.

"But the threat from dissidents, their campaign of violence and murder is a real and present danger for the brave men and women of the PSNI and the people of Northern Ireland."

Mr Woodward said dissident activity in the province had grown over the last three years - with more than 30 attacks or attempted attacks this year so far, compared with 20 last year.

"These men and women are ruthless," he said. "Give them, the Real IRA, Continuity IRA, the chance and they will kill. Their deranged and psychotic intent is to murder - destroy the peace and destroy the politics."

He added: "The new coalition Government in Westminster must recognise, as did we, the legacy of the Troubles means special circumstances in Northern Ireland. Special because of the past and special because of the present."

Last week the threat level to Britain from Irish-related terrorism was raised from moderate to substantial, with Home Secretary Theresa May warning that an attack was a "strong possibility".

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