The police assessment is, in fact, that the dissident threat is at an all-time high. This is the theme of a major report by David McKittrick in todays Independent. It follows up evidence given this week by the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde to the Commons NI select committee.
MI5 and the Special Branches in both parts of Ireland pour huge effort and huge resources into combating the dissident republicans, with some success. Efforts to smuggle in weaponry through Lithuania and the Balkans have been thwarted.
This intertwining of high politics and low terrorism is something that concerns the authorities, who want to get the political show on the road. They already detect a new attitude towards the police, a senior officer reporting: “There is a huge wind of change out there. I have seen that in a number of investigations there is a completely different response to police on the ground.”
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London