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Give PSNI means to beat terror

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 26/01/2016

The PSNI must be given the resources required to enable it to undermine the dissidents to the point where they wither away
The PSNI must be given the resources required to enable it to undermine the dissidents to the point where they wither away

It is obvious that 100 years on from the Easter Rising - from which they claim a dubious heritage - that dissident republicans have learned nothing. Their only method of claiming attention for whatever it is they espouse is through the use of violence, by which they poison the minds of another generation of young people.

The violence in Lurgan, a stronghold of the dissidents, is said to have been orchestrated by senior members currently held in Maghaberry Prison. It was a frightening glimpse back into the dark days of the Troubles, with scores of petrol bombs thrown and even shots fired.

The exact purpose of the violence is not clear, although suggestions include highlighting conditions within the prison and demonstrating that, in this one small area, dissidents have the power, for a short time, to make it a no-go area for the PSNI.

For a time, until specialist reinforcements arrived, police were forced to survey the troubled area from the air.

Perhaps the dissidents would regard this as a victory of sorts, but it is merely the mobilising of impressionable young people - some of the rioters are said to have been only eight years old - for no gain other than showing that they can do it.

Comparisons between the dissidents and Isis are far-fetched except in one regard - neither has a political objective apart from the creation by force of a state to which no sane person could give allegiance.

Some people might point out that the IRA at one time was exactly the same, but it evolved a political strategy to run alongside, and eventually replace, violence.

The dissidents have no coherent political voice, never mind strategy, and only pockets of support, which means that defeating them is purely a policing exercise.

Since it is impossible to engage the dissidents in any rational debate the police must take the lead role in confronting them.

That requires the unequivocal support of all right-thinking people in society and the full backing of the Executive for both the police and the justice system.

Words of support are not enough. The PSNI, a force under stress, must be given the resources required to enable it to undermine the dissidents to the point where they wither away. Just as vital services like health and education have ring-fenced budgets, so a similar approach must be taken with justice and policing to create a stable society.

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