Terror attack in Northern Ireland is now 'highly likely' as MI5 raises threat level to ‘severe’ | The Sun

THE threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland was today raised from "substantial" to "severe" – meaning an attack is highly likely.

MI5 ramped up the threat level independently of government, after monitoring a rise in terrorist related activity in the Province.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said dangerous criminals are targeting police officers and putting the lives of children and the public at risk.

Ministers this afternoon warned the public to "remain vigilant".

But they added there's no cause for "alarm".

Mr Heaton-Harris said: "Over the last 25 years, Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society.

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"The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement demonstrates how peaceful and democratic politics improve society.

"However, a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence."

Simon Byrne, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said the threat hike "is part of an ongoing process of monitoring" conducted by MI5.

"We will relentlessly pursue those who seek to cause harm and terrorise our communities, and attack my officers and staff," he added

"I pay tribute to them as they continue to deliver for our communities."


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Last month a senior cop in Omagh was gunned down in front of his own son while coaching young footballers.

Senior PSNI officer John Caldwell remains in a "critical but stable condition" as 13 arrests focused around the New IRA have been made in connection to the attempted assassination.

What is the New IRA?

The New IRA is a violent paramilitary group based in Republican districts of west Belfast with some activity in Dublin.

It is formed of dissident Republicans who reject Northern Ireland’s peace process, which saw paramilitary groups decommission weapons in order to end The Troubles.

The IRA was disbanded after the decommissioning and has been inactive for several years but several groups have sprung up under the name.

In 2014, the New IRA sent failed devices to Army career offices in England and carried out a car bombing in Londonderry.

The New IRA was also behind an attack in 2016 when a prison officer died after a bomb exploded under his van in Belfast.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan told BBC Radio Ulster: "The primary focus is on violent dissident republicans and within that there is a primary focus as well on New IRA."

DCI Caldwell most recently led the investigation for pregnant Natalie McNally's murder in December.

Mr Heaton-Harris said: "I pay tribute to the tremendous efforts of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and security partners, and the determination and resilience of the Northern Ireland people, who are making Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work.

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"The political future of Northern Ireland rests with the democratic will of the people and not the violent actions of the few.

"Together we will ensure there is no return to the violence of the past."

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