Dissident republican threat to England, Wales and Scotland upgraded

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Adrian Ismay murde scene
Adrian Ismay murde scene

Westminster Home Secretary Theresa May has issued a statement saying that the threat of a dissident republican attack on Wales, Scotland or England is a "strong possibility".

Ms May told the House of Commons today after being briefed by MI5 who have told her that an attack is highly likely.

In a statement, Ms May said: "The Security Service, MI5, has increased the threat level to Great Britain from Northern Ireland-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.

"This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility and reflects the continuing threat from dissident republican activity.

"As a result of this change, we are working closely with the police and other relevant authorities to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.

"The threat level to the UK from international terrorism remains unchanged at severe, which means that an attack is highly likely. The threat level to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism also remains unchanged at severe.

"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", Mrs May said.

She added: "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."

The Home Secretary went on: "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."

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson expressed surprise at the security assessment and is seeking an urgent Privy Council briefing to discuss it further.

The Lagan Valley MP said: "It is evident that dissident republicans are now active in Great Britain and are examining potential targets. Obviously that's a matter of concern.

"We had no prior indication that the threat level had been increasing. In Northern Ireland, the threat has been severe for some time but quite clearly this is a new development in terms of dissident republican activity."

In March of this year prison officer Adrian Ismay lost his life after a bomb exploded under his car as he made his way to work. Mr Ismay later died as a result of his injuries. 

A group calling itself the New IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.