Dissident republicans have been accused of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic after they were blamed for a disruptive bomb hoax in Co Fermanagh.
A senior officer branded the extremists a “disgrace” after the fake device was left in the Rosslea area.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Superintendent Clive Beatty said the perpetrators went to great lengths to make the object look like a bomb.
It was found by a member of the public on Monday night, prompting a day-long security alert involving police and Army bomb disposal experts.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Commander Superintendent Clive Beatty condemns hoax device left by dissident republicans at time of national emergency.https://t.co/2HCbXt7wNu— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) March 24, 2020
“Given the unprecedented challenges the PSNI is facing in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, it is hard to fathom there are individuals in our community who are intent on causing such disruption by exploiting this global emergency for their own ends,” said Mr Beatty.
“Dissident republicans are a small minority and we need to stand as a united community, to say loudly that they are a disgrace and a distraction.”
Superintendent Beatty added: “It beggars belief that dissident republicans would want to exploit this situation for their own ends.
“Their selfish behaviour ended up diverting valuable police resources away from other community priorities for a significant number of hours.
“This says so much about dissident republicans – that in the face of a national emergency their first thought is to use the opportunity to target emergency services and first responders – the very people who are doing all they can to help communities and take care of the vulnerable.
“I would like to thank the Rosslea community, who were disrupted today, for their patience and co-operation during the security alert.
“The dissident republicans responsible for this senseless act went to great lengths to make this device appear viable and to plant it on Clough Road.
“They didn’t care about the consequences of their actions and how it would affect others.”