Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Police banned from east Belfast bar after links to attempted dissident bomb attacks

Police and Army bomb experts pictured during the security alert at Kingsway Park last month. Pic Jonathan Porter/Presseye
Police and Army bomb experts pictured during the security alert at Kingsway Park last month. Pic Jonathan Porter/Presseye

An east Belfast bar has been declared a no-go zone for cops after being linked to attempted dissident republican bomb attacks on two officers in the area.

Last month, a former police officer and his 12-year-old daughter narrowly escaped serious injury after he discovered a viable booby-trap bomb under their car in the Tullycarnet area.

The failed attack came nearly a year after a serving officer was also targeted with a car bomb on December 30 last year on the Upper Newtownards Road.

UNSAFE

That officer found the device during a routine check of his family car as he prepared to take his wife and two children out to lunch.

At the time, police said the device was “clearly intended to kill”.

Now, Sunday Life understands the PSNI are linking the two incidents after discovering the two men are friends who drank together in an east Belfast bar located in what is a traditionally unionist part of the city.

Emails have now been circulated to PSNI staff declaring the pub unsafe for police to socialise in.

A source told Sunday Life: “There are a lot of police in east Belfast and in the past this bar would have been thought of as safe to go to but after these attacks it’s not worth the risk.

“The link has been made, although it’s still not clear if people in the bar were listening to the officers talking, or if there was some sort of honeytrap set up.

“We know that’s been a key tactic used by republicans in the past.

“Either way, dissidents found out they were police and the conclusion has been drawn that they found out in this bar.”

Dissident republicans are believed to have used young women to gather information in bars frequented by members of the security forces. The women mingle with regulars picking up details about potential targets including their families, social lives and homes.

AMBUSH

In recent years, dissident republican paramilitary groups have carried out a number of attacks on PSNI officers.

In April 2011, Constable Ronan Kerr was killed when a booby-trap car bomb exploded under his car in Omagh, Tyrone.

The previous year, Constable Peadar Heffron lost a leg in a similar attack as he drove to work in Randalstown, County Antrim.

In November, prison officer David Black, 52, was shot dead in a motorway ambush in County Armagh as he drove to work.

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