Belfast Telegraph

PSNI says 'no evidence Fermanagh bomb linked to Brexit' and blames dissident republicans

Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A senior PSNI officer has said there is no evidence to suggest a bomb attack in Fermanagh targeting police and army officers was linked to Brexit.

Deputy chief constable Stephen Martin also said that a strong line of inquiry is that dissident republicans were responsible for the explosion, namely either the Continuity IRA or the New IRA.

Army bomb disposal officers and police narrowly escaped injury when the bomb detonated on the main A3 Cavan Road at around 10.35am on Monday.

Bomb disposal officers had been in the nearby Wattle Bridge area at the weekend responding to reports that a device had been left there.

That item was ultimately declared a hoax but it is understood another device exploded close-by on Monday when a bomb disposal team attended to review the scene.

Mr Martin said police believe the hoax device was part of a booby trap plan to bring security forces into the area prior to the detonation of the viable device, which happed close to the border.

The deputy chief constable, however, said there was no evidence the attack is linked to the ongoing Brexit debate.

"I think this underlines the difficulty of policing in and around the border area. I have found nothing at my disposal at the moment that would directly link this attack to the EU exit debate and the impending 31st of October exit date," he said.

"But what I will say is this. We have two and half years of no devolved institutions. We have unresolved issues around legacy and we saw an aspect play out in parading in Derry/Londonderry last weekend. We have had tensions on the ground around bonfires. We have the uncertainty around the EU exit. We have had five attempts to murder police officers this year.

"When you add all that up there is a time for reflection, a time to question what type of society we live in. The terrorists have spoken. In response the police service will continue to do its job and investigate."

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin (Rebecca Black/PA)
Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin (Rebecca Black/PA)

Mr Martin called on politicians and community leaders to come together in order to tackle the problem of terrorism.

"We all want to reclaim the prosperity we felt a number of years ago, because people are feeling progress is "slipping back" and views are becoming more entrenched," he added.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, labelled those responsible for the attack "sick and depraved republican terrorists".

"This device was designed to lure officers and Army colleagues to their deaths. It was done without regard to the safety of passers-by who might as easily have been the victims of this wanton and reckless act," he said.

“The people who planned this murderous act are heartless and merciless. They have to be apprehended and I would appeal to anyone who knows anything about this latest attack on our officers to report it immediately.

"These people have had the intent of murdering police officers or our military colleagues for some considerable time but are now showing an increased capability in carrying out such attacks and this is extremely worrying. In doing so, they demonstrate that they care little about the community they purport to represent."

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