Belfast Telegraph

PSNI confirm Fermanagh explosion was Continuity IRA attempt to murder police officers

PSNI officers close to the scene of the bomb attack at Wattle Bridge in Co Fermanagh.
PSNI officers close to the scene of the bomb attack at Wattle Bridge in Co Fermanagh.
PSNI at the scene of the attack on the Cavan Road in Fermanagh on Monday

The PSNI has confirmed an explosion near the Irish border on Monday was a deliberate attempt by the Continuity IRA to murder police officers and army personnel.

"Our investigation has indicated that this was a deliberate attempt by the Continuity IRA to murder police officers and army personnel," said Detective Superintendent Sean Wright, Head of PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit, speaking on Thursday evening.

"Thankfully these terrorists did not succeed in their murderous attempt and police officers and army personnel bravely continued the clearance operation, working to protect the community of Wattle Bridge," he said.

Detective Superintendent Wright said they received a report on Saturday evening from a media outlet that had been made aware of a suspect device left in the Wattle Bridge area.

"Police moved to secure the area in order to mitigate the potential risk to the public," he said.

"On Sunday morning, a full clearance operation began with the support of army technical officer colleagues and colleagues from An Garda Siochana. During this operation, a bomb exploded in the area of the Cavan Road at its junction with the Wattle Bridge Road.

"This was not a controlled explosion carried out by security services, it detonated without warning. This demonstrates how volatile these devices are and I am thankful that there were no injuries.

"It was only once we were satisfied that no further explosive devices were present that a forensic recovery of the exploded device took place and the area around the scene was subsequently reopened.

"A forensic examination of the device and its composition forms part of our ongoing police investigation.

Simon Byrne
Simon Byrne

"I continue to appeal to anyone with any information to come forward and speak to police. Those responsible for this reckless attack clearly do not care about their community and the lives of those who live in the local area. By placing an explosive device adjacent to a public road, it is clear that these terrorists do not mind who they hurt or murder."

Police asked for anyone in the Wattle Bridge area anytime between 6pm on Friday 16th August and 8pm on Saturday 17th August they should contact police on 101 or anonymously on Crimestoppers.

 If any motorists were in the area and they have dashcam,they are also asked to get in touch.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday morning, Simon Byrne said he was concerned at the "tempo and pace" of dissident republican attacks that he believed the Continuity IRA "have come back into the fore".

"They are clearly intent on murdering one of my officers who are only going about their job to try and protect the public," Mr Byrne said.

"There are a small number of individuals here who are still intent on using terror to frighten people to their core."

He described the lack of political progress at Stormont as "unhelpful" and that the PSNI had become a "shock absorber for failure elsewhere" as a result.

The Chief Constable said it was a "really dangerous situation to be in".

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Simon Byrne

"My priority is to deal with the day-to-day operational challenges of providing a good service to communities right across Northern Ireland, but the vacuum certainly isn't helpful," he said.

Mr Bryne also criticised the lack of political certainty around Brexit.

He said the "speculation around different forms of Brexit and the political uncertainty in Northern Ireland" had "become a sort of breeding ground for dissident hate towards my staff".

In June the New IRA accepted responsibility for placing a bomb under a senior police officer's car outside an east Belfast golf club.

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