Belfast Telegraph

Blaming terror attacks on Brexit lets dissidents off hook, says DUP's Campbell

PSNI at the scene of the attack on the Cavan Road in Fermanagh on Monday
PSNI at the scene of the attack on the Cavan Road in Fermanagh on Monday
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said those blaming recent dissident republican terrorism on Brexit and the political vacuum in Northern Ireland are making excuses for "very twisted and warped individuals".

His comments came a day after police and army bomb disposal officers escaped injury when an explosive device detonated on the border in Co Fermanagh.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said there was no evidence the bomb was linked to Brexit, with the finger of suspicion pointing to dissident republicans.

Mr Campbell said the bombers were "motivated by targeting people who they see as representing Her Majesty's Government", adding: "They wake up in the morning with murder on their mind."

The East Londonderry MP also pointed to PSNI statistics which show a drop in the number of bombing incidents since the Brexit referendum in 2016 and the collapse of devolved government at Stormont a year later.

Some 52 bombing incidents were recorded in the 2015/16 financial year, which dropped to 29 in 2016/17 and 18 in 2017/18.

"Police statistics show that the number of bombing incidents have decreased, not increased, since the EU referendum/demise of devolution," Mr Campbell said.

"Those who blame Brexit or Stormont are in danger of misleading the next generation.

"There's no excuse for bombings and there never was.

"Soldiers, prison officers, police officers and border force officers were never legitimate targets."

Meanwhile, there is rising frustration among Garda officers at the Irish government's failure to allocate additional resources to the force's northern region to combat the threat posed by dissident republican groups in the run-up to Brexit.

Plans to create a third armed support unit (ASU) covering the border area with additional resources to supplement the existing strength, which were revealed last Christmas, have yet to be implemented.

Two existing ASUs are based in Dundalk, Co Louth, and Ballyshannon in Co Donegal.

Under new plans, these are being expanded to provide a 24-hour armed service, with a third unit based in the Cavan-Monaghan division to fill the lengthy gap between the locations of the other two.

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