Dissident republican groups may be small in size but still pose a significant risk to life. A north Belfast woman jailed for 20 years yesterday for attempting to murder police was described by the judge as still wedded to violence and a danger to the public.
Christine Connor's murder bid may have included elements akin to the imagination of a thriller writer - although she is clinically obese she posed as a Swedish model to entice men to join in her evil enterprise - but it was just good fortune that prevented a police officer from being murdered. She had lured officers to the area by making bogus phone calls claiming she had been the victim of domestic violence and then pipe bombs were thrown at them, one going off at a policeman's feet leaving him traumatised but relatively unharmed.
It was an attack which bore all the hallmarks of dissident republican activity. There was a certain ingenuity behind the planning of the attack, but ultimately explosives were set off in a residential area of Belfast without any concern of who may have been caught up in the violence. It demonstrated the nihilistic mindset of dissident terrorists. They are fixated on attempting to kill police officers but the possibility of any collateral injuries are disregarded.
Connor begins her lengthy jail sentence as details emerge of a concerted effort by the intelligence service MI5, under the leadership of the PSNI, to infiltrate and bring to justice people suspected of membership of the New IRA.
Today a ninth person is to appear in court today accused of a number of offences. The six who were in the dock yesterday faced charges of belonging to a proscribed organisation and of directing terrorism, and being at two meetings, both held in County Tyrone, with the intent of committing acts of terrorism.
The New IRA is considered to be the largest dissident republican group and has been behind numerous attempted attacks on police officers. Journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead by a New IRA gunman while observing a riot in Derry on April 18, 2019.
Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray did not mince her words at a press conference explaining some of the background to the investigation, describing the New IRA as not caring who it hurts or what it destroys - adding that members are reckless, manipulative and exploitive. It is a description most right thinking people would agree with.