Belfast Telegraph

MoD must protect soldiers from dissidents

It is not hard to understand why senior police officers are angry at the outrageous lapse of Army security when the dissident republican group, Oglaigh na hEireann, targeted a soldier in north Belfast.

He escaped unhurt after he spotted a device, which could have been triggered off by the use of a car's seatbelt.

If he had not been so vigilant, he and possibly other people could have been killed or badly wounded.

It transpires that the car had been used to ferry people on a party circuit in the area.

To compound matters, the soldier expressed surprise when he found the car open on Thursday morning.

But he could not remember whether or not he had locked it the night before.

The serviceman, on leave from Scotland, was visiting his girl friend, and he may face disciplinary charges when he returns to his regiment.

However, it is not enough for a Ministry of Defence spokesman to claim that security in Northern Ireland is a matter for the PSNI.

Personal security is also the responsibility of the MoD, and a senior police officer is justified in saying that "the Army needs to get things sorted out".

The MoD must make it clear to servicemen and women that vigilance remains a priority, especially in the face of the continued threat from dissident republicans.

Normality may be returning here slowly, but the security forces and others remain potential targets and will continue to do so for some time to come.

While the MoD needs to do more much to combat this threat, there is no excuse for the murderous thugs who were foiled by the sharp eye of the serviceman, who was targeted.

No amount of Sinn Fein talk about the soldier and the car being involved in a series of seasonal parties can excuse such barbarity and nihilism, which needs to be tackled from within the republican community.

However, it is clear that terrorism still potentially threatens everyone, and we all have a part to play by remaining vigilant and by co-operating fully with the police at all times.


From Belfast Telegraph