Belfast Telegraph

Threat from dissidents in Northern Irelandstill there and we must remember to stay vigilant

By Brian Rowan

The male officer targeted in this latest dissident bomb plot is well-known locally.

His service stretches from the RUC to the PSNI - and much of his policing has been in the Waterside.

So, the dissidents knew who they were looking for, who they intended to kill.

There is a very clear assessment of the capability of the bomb.

It was "a viable device" and "not amateurish".

"We've had a lot of phone calls this morning from right across the city and beyond, from people expressing their disgust, condemnation and support for what we are doing," district police commander Superintendent Mark McEwan told this newspaper.

"We won't be deterred by this type of attack from what we have to do both in this city and across the service, which is keeping people safe," he added.

The bomb is another reminder of the threat, another wake-up call, an incident that underscores the need for vigilance. Both the dissident IRA and the group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) have this bomb-making capability, which can be seen in a calendar of incidents spanning several years.

May 2008: Police officer seriously injured in under-car bomb.

October 2009: Police dog handler targeted in east Belfast. His partner was injured when the device exploded as she reversed the car out of the driveway.

January 2010: Constable Peadar Heffron critically injured when a device exploded underneath his car.

August 2010: Army Major targeted in Bangor. Bomb falls from car.

August 2010: Woman police officer targeted in Kilkeel. Device falls from car.

August 2010: In Cookstown a device under a civilian security guard's car partially explodes.

April 2011: Constable Ronan Kerr killed by under-car booby trap bomb.

January 2012: Serving soldier targeted in north Belfast. Device placed under a car seat.

November 2012: Soldier targeted. Device fell from car west Belfast.

December 2012: Police officer targeted in east Belfast. Bomb discovered under his car.

The dissidents are seen and not seen. They appear and disappear.

But what we see in that pattern of activity is the threat they pose, however occasional.

One of these bombs can play inside thousands of heads. This is part of the mind game.

They are a reminder of the danger and of the need for constant checks under vehicles.

At times the magnets have not been strong enough to hold the bomb to the car. There have been partial explosions.

Bombs have been discovered in security checks, but we have seen what they can do when they explode.

Recently, all the dissident organisations had been quiet, but they showed themselves in the run-up to the election, prompting a high-visibility security response.

Now, they have come in under the radar again to place a bomb underneath a police officer's car.

The threat is still there.

Belfast Telegraph


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