'Naive' not to plan for dissident attack during Queen visit - PSNI chief
Published 15/04/2011 | 16:24
It would be naive not to plan for a possible dissident republican terror attack during the Queen's visit to Ireland, the North's Chief Constable said today.
Police must also be wary that the violent extremists may attempt a symbolic strike to coincide with the royal wedding, according to Matt Baggott.
Officers are ramping up security in the North around these key dates in a bid to thwart a headline-grabbing action by the renegades opposed to the peace process.
The Queen will arrive in the Republic of Ireland on May 17 for her historic four-day trip - the first by a British monarch in a century.
While gardai are launching a massive security operation south of the border, in the North officers are mindful that dissidents may launch an attack in their jurisdiction to make a political point.
Security is already tight following the murder of Catholic policeman Ronan Kerr in Omagh, Co Tyrone, almost a fortnight ago and ahead of May's Stormont Assembly elections.
"It would be naive not to prepare for key events that are coming up," said Mr Baggott.
"We've got elections, we've got weddings, we've got the Olympics coming beyond that so we are always very mindful of events."
Three men remain in police custody over the murder of Pc Kerr. It is believed the 25-year-old Gaelic football fan was targeted in a bid to dissuade Catholics from joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Mr Baggott noted that dissidents may also wish to mark the upcoming 30th anniversaries of IRA hunger striker deaths.
"We are very mindful there are some pretty key dates coming up," he said.
The main representative body for Irish police has expressed concern that most of the Garda's annual budget will be spent policing the visits of first the Queen and then US President Obama in May.
All leave for Garda officers is set to be cancelled for the security operations with millions of euros spent on overtime.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has questioned whether there will be enough money left for regular policing in the Republic.