Tuesday 17 September 2019

Tom Brady: 'Grim reminder of the security threat Brexit has reawoken'


Scene: A Garda roadblock at Redhills, Co Cavan, near the site of the bomb. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Scene: A Garda roadblock at Redhills, Co Cavan, near the site of the bomb. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The plot to lure members of the PSNI and British army bomb disposal experts into an ambush near the Border is a grim reminder of what we can expect from dissident republicans in the run-up to Brexit.

The security warnings issued by the police forces on both sides of the Border over the past two years are now becoming reality.

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The New IRA, regarded as posing the biggest domestic terror threat to this island for more than two decades, and a resurgent Continuity IRA have been stepping up their campaign to create murder and mayhem.

And the political developments since then have given them nothing but encouragement. The dissidents see the increasingly likely prospect of a hard Border on the island as fuelling the climate of fear and disruption, which they can exploit.

Yesterday's plot was obviously in the planning process for some time and it was sheer luck that several officers were not killed or at least seriously injured.

The bomb disposal experts had earlier cleared a suspect device and the security forces were about to extend their sweep over a wider area when the second device exploded.

A similar alert had been launched by the PSNI on the day of the Ulster football final in June and it turned out to be a hoax. But while the investigation was under way on the ground, all roads crossing the Border were closed off for security reasons and this resulted in traffic chaos for those attending the big game in Clones.

In hindsight, this may have been a dry run for the attack at the weekend.

The Continuity IRA has traditionally been strong in this part of the Border hinterland, but it appeared to be winding down its terror activities until the Brexit chaos presented new opportunities for the terrorists.

The New IRA signalled in January that it remained a potent force with a bomb blast outside a courthouse in Derry. It has been finding new sources of explosives and weapons and is continuing to recruit personnel not previously known by the Garda or the PSNI to have been involved in renegade republican activities.

The Garda authorities submitted their views on the likely security threats emanating from Brexit more than a year ago but their assessment appears to have fallen on deaf ears in terms of additional resources for the Border region.

There has been a build-up in personnel in the specialist units in the region, and an increase in recruits out of Templemore - but senior officers believe the response overall from the Government has fallen way below the levels required.

Ten months ago Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated in Templemore there was no need for contingency security planning in the event of a hard Brexit. That view may have changed in the intervening period but there has not been the extra funding provided.

Yesterday's bomb blast may prompt the Government to take another look at what is needed.

Irish Independent

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