New warning rises from ‘Moderate’ to ‘Substantial’
MI5 last week said there is an increased risk of a terror attack in Britain by dissident Republican groups such as the so-called New IRA.
It raised the risk from ‘Moderate’ to ‘Substantial’ – two down from the most serious alert, ‘Severe’, meaning it is not a probability although it is the first escalation since July 2011. In Northern Ireland the threat from dissident groups is classed as ‘Severe’ and the threat from ISIS to the UK is ‘Severe’.
According to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), over the past 12 months there have been 52 bomb attacks across Northern Ireland compared with 36 the previous year. Prison officer Adrian Ismay died after a bomb exploded under his van in March.
Last Thursday Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons the dissident republican terror threat was “substantial”, and an attack in England a strong possibility. The alert follows reports the New IRA has obtained up to a quarter of a tonne of Semtex from an arms dump in Cavan. At Easter just ahead of the centenary of the Rising the so-called New IRA threatened more attacks on prison officers and security forces in Northern Ireland but also in Britain.
It declared: “The volunteer soldiers of the IRA are ready and determined to take the war to the age old enemy of our nation.” Last week in a written statement to the Commons – which received extensive media coverage – Mrs. May said: “The public should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.”
“The main focus of violent dissident republican activity continues to be in Northern Ireland, where they have targeted the brave police and prison officers who serve their communities day in and day out. The reality is that they command little support. They do not represent the views or wishes of the vast majority of people, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, who decisively expressed their desire for peace in the 1998 Belfast agreement and have been transforming Northern Ireland ever since.
“However it is sensible, given their stated aims, that the public in Great Britain should also remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. But we should not be alarmed, and this should not affect how we go about our daily lives.”