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Attack on PSNI GAA captain was all about timing

This may well be an attack that has a lot to do with timing.

Peadar Heffron was a standout target — a Gaelic footballer, Irish language speaker, part of the something new in policing.

And his high profile meant he was someone who was easy to find.

He joined the service in 2002 when the different wars were meant to be long over.

Even the dissidents had retreated after the horror of the Omagh bomb just a few years earlier.

But those dissidents have re-emerged and levels of activity are higher now than at any time in recent years.

But much of what has been tried by the Continuity and Real IRAs and the splinter group Oglaigh na hEireann has failed.

Bombs have been abandoned, others have not exploded, and in Garrison in Co Fermanagh recently the security forces interrupted a planned attack on a police officer.

But in battles like this the pendulum swings.

There will be times like yesterday when the intelligence world will not see what is planned.

And there will always be those blind spots.

So, what about the timing, why is it important? Because of what was expected today, a meeting of the Sinn Fein leadership to discuss the political crisis at Stormont, where the stand-off continues on the issue of policing and justice.

That meeting was only postponed yesterday, news emerging several hours after the bomb exploded under Peadar Heffron’s car. The dissidents would not have known of the planned cancellation and would have been anticipating a deepening political crisis to result from the decisions likely to have been made at the scheduled meeting.

And if you examine patterns, the dissidents have always been most active at those times when there is trouble within the political process.

The threat posed by the different dissident organisations remains severe, and we might see more of them and their attacks in the days ahead.

They will see the developing crisis at Stormont as an opportunity, a chance for them to make things even more difficult.

Their war is against the peace process and their targets are people such as Peadar Heffron and other young officers who became part of policing in the developing peace.

That peace has not yet been made secure.

The bombs and the bullets of several groups now operating under different IRA names continue to pose a threat.

Belfast Telegraph