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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Garda chiefs fear upsurge in violence near Border

Wants more officers: New PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne. Photo: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Wants more officers: New PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne. Photo: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Garda commanders policing the Border region are seriously concerned at the upsurge in dissident republican terrorism and the added implications of a no-deal Brexit.

They want the Government and Garda authorities to take a fresh look at the resources available to them along the Border and deploy more personnel to the region.

Their concern was expressed yesterday as the new PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said he needed another 800 officers to police Northern Ireland.

If his request is granted, this would boost the total strength of the PSNI to 7,500, or half the size of An Garda Síochána.

Both Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan addressed the annual conference of the Association of Garda Chief Superintendents in Durrow, Co Laois, yesterday but neither gave any indication of a review of numbers.

Chief Constable Byrne said he was worried that "the valiant efforts of officers cannot continue at this rate without support from the government to increase the number of people that I can deploy to communities to fight terrorism".

He made his comments against a background of an increase in attacks by dissidents, particularly the New IRA and the Continuity IRA, in a bid to murder police officers.

He said he was also concerned at the growing pace of dissident activity and the range of tactics now being used by the terrorists.

This follows the discovery at the weekend of a mortar bomb in the Border town of Strabane and an explosive device in the Creggan area of Derry city. Police officers were the intended targets in both cases.

Irish Independent

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