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The dissidents want to kill and don't care who gets in the way

By Suzanne Breen

Published 23/09/2015

The discovery of an improvised explosive device in the Poleglass area of Belfast shows that, regardless of the state of the Provisional IRA ceasefire, there are other republican paramilitaries out there prepared to kill in pursuit of their goals.

Police officers were clearly the intended targets of those who embedded the shrapnel bomb in the bank of a small stream in the Colin Road area.

From initial reports, it appears as though officers were to be lured to the scene where the device would have been detonated. The mortar-type explosive, complete with ammunition - planed marbles - had the capacity to kill officers walking on foot.

Fatalities to police were evidently the intention of those who made the bomb.

In the dissident republican world, the more officers killed or injured the greater a 'success' the attack would have been deemed.

But the recklessness in leaving such a deadly device in an area where children are known to play is staggering.

The bomb was crudely camouflaged. If it was primed, it had the potential to rip to shreds any youngsters who innocently found it.

Sinn Fein was quick to stress the dangers that the dissidents responsible posed to their own community.

Councillor Stephen Magennis said those who planted the device had put the lives of local children in danger.

The Sinn Fein man's condemnation will be shared by law-abiding citizens across the political spectrum.

But dissident republicans themselves are unlikely to listen to anything councillor Magennis or his party colleagues have to say.

They will point to a 30-year campaign during which the Provisional IRA regularly endangered, and indeed killed, men, women and children from the nationalist community.

Yesterday's scenes, where a women's centre had to be evacuated and people moved from their homes, were sadly all too commonplace during the Troubles. Dissident republicans clearly do retain the will, and the ability, to kill.

But the risk they pose to the peace process must not be over-estimated.

The intelligence services have enjoyed phenomenal success against them with a high rate of arrests.

Of all the republican groups, the New IRA by far poses the greatest threat to the security forces. But that should still be put in perspective.

In seven years, dissident republicans have killed five people - two British soldiers, two policemen and a prison officer.

Despite the human tragedy behind those murders, it is not a death toll that in any way threatens the peace.

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