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Dissident attacks 'likely' during G8, says police chief

Dissident attacks are likely to occur in Northern Ireland during the G8 summit despite the presence of thousands of extra police officers, the commander of the security operation said yesterday.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said such attacks are part of the "normal backdrop" of life in the region.

But he said he expects any incidents will take place away from the conference venue in Fermanagh.

Mr Finlay said: "I've got no reason to say that dissidents won't do something during that period of time.

"This is the normal backdrop. This has been the backdrop, the sad reality of Northern Ireland over quite a period of time.

"There is nothing to suggest that the rhythm of that will be disrupted. It would be great if it did, and maybe the policing operation will prevent any of that happening during the G8.

CAPACITY

"But we would say people shouldn't be surprised if there are incidents. We anticipate those incidents won't be at, near or affecting any part of the delivery of the G8."

The New IRA and ONH (Oglaigh na hEireann) are currently the most active dissident groups, he said, which have "real capacity and capability".

The operation, the biggest in PSNI's history, will see 3,600 officers drafted in from forces across Great Britain, 2,500 of whom specialise in public order. Another 4,400 officers from PSNI are also due to take part.

Officers coming from the mainland have had to be trained in getting in and out of armoured Land Rovers and how to work around water cannon.

They have been kitted out with ballistic body armour and will be accompanied by PSNI officers, who are routinely armed, while on patrol.

Mr Finlay said: "We are not going to deploy them into the normal policing areas in Northern Ireland."

He said he does not believe officers coming from Britain are in any more danger than the domestic force. "I've got nothing to suggest the dissidents see them as a target in particular. The kind of thing the dissidents target is us, the PSNI, the indigenous police officers.

"The preference is attacking police officers at their homes or other places with under-vehicle improvised explosive devices."

PURCHASE

Various protests are planned around the time of the summit, with the biggest on June 17, attracting possibly 20,000 demonstrators.

A "small number" of protesters will travel from the mainland and Europe.

PSNI has brought forward the purchase of a new helicopter to coincide with G8.

The force has also ordered three drones which it is hoped can be used during the summit.

hnews@herald.ie


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