Belfast Telegraph

Vigilance is vital in fight against terror

Editor's Viewpoint

Christine Connor was an unlikely looking terrorist, an overweight woman with a host of medical problems. But she proved that appearances can be deceptive and that she had murder on her mind.

In one incident she threw a pipe bomb at a PSNI officer. Fortunately, he did not suffer any serious injuries but he has since suffered post traumatic stress disorder.

Connor, who the court in Belfast was told was motivated by terrorism, even lured a vulnerable man into helping her with her murder plot, enticing him into buying the components for the pipe bomb. The man later took his own life when on remand on charges related to the incident.

Connor was manipulative and cunning, but good detective and forensic work built up a strong case against her and she has been jailed for 16 years and four months.

It is a strong sentence and may serve as a warning to others tempted to engage in dissident republican terrorism in Northern Ireland that they risk spending a large part of their lives in jail if they do so.

What this case underlines is the need for the police and intelligence services to remain ever-vigilant in the fight against terrorism. Just as with the threat from Islamic terrorists, many of those engaged in plots may be known to the intelligence services and police but others can sneak under the radar.

We know from past reports that many planned attacks on the security forces by dissidents are thwarted through good intelligence, including, undoubtedly, the use of informers. But the danger is ever present and as the terrorists become more determined to launch an attack they also put more and more people at risk.

The shooting and wounding of a police officer in north Belfast in January this year was a frightening example of how little the terrorists consider the safety of the public.

Shots were fired across a busy garage forecourt at the officer who was struck in the arm, but other injuries or fatalities could have occurred.

At a time of budget constraints and reduced manpower the PSNI does a commendable job in clamping down on dissident violence.

As with every type of crime, it needs the assistance of the public in identifying and bringing to justice those, like Connor, with murder on their mind. And as the IRA said after the Brighton bombing that nearly killed Mrs Thatcher, the terrorists only need to be lucky once.

Belfast Telegraph

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