Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Brian Rowan: Dissidents adopting IRA tactics

The Armagh incident is another example of the dissidents taking tactics and gadgetry from the IRA’s past and playing them into the present.

And this is further evidence of a continuing intention to try to kill police officers.

In its war the IRA developed many variations of the mortar bomb, including a Mark 16 horizontal device designed to break the armour of security vehicles.

The bomb in Armagh is the dissident version and its make-up suggests the plan was an attack on a police vehicle.

One source talked of there being “enough of particular |type of components to make |it (the device) viable”. This particular mortar bomb did not contain high explosives.

It is a roadside device that would have been triggered by command wire.

In Forkhill recently the dissidents abandoned another, but different type, of roadside bomb.

On that occasion the plan had been to target police responding to a local robbery.

Recently senior security sources and the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) have pointed to increased dissident activity — to the highest level of threat in recent years.

There is also an assessment that former members of the mainstream IRA are now providing expertise and skills.

How much help and what type of expertise has not been detailed.

But the suggestion of any additional help — specifically in the area of bomb making — is a worrying development and something that adds to the |dissident threat.

In targeting the police — in trying to kill officers — groups such as the Real and Continuity IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann are trying to destabilise the |political and peace processes.

At Stormont the stand-off |continues over the timing of the devolution of policing and justice powers, and there are continuing arguments over police resources and specifically the future of fulltime reserve officers.

The dissidents know the process is in a difficult place and phase.

And their argument in those parts of the republican community where they are strongest is that politics is not working and that the Adams-McGuinness strategy has failed.

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