“We are obviously very concerned at the level of threat..”

With another security alert in Belfast following reports of an explosion near a Territorial Army base, it’s worth noting comments by deputy chief constable Judith Gillespie earlier in the week. From the Irish Times

PSNI deputy chief constable Judith Gillespie also said many people formerly involved in terrorism were now using their old gun-running routes and methods for “other contraband” associated with organised crime. She said dissidents were continuing to engage in for-profit crime to raise money to fund terrorism. Joint Garda-PSNI operations were trying to combat this activity and to ensure the Border could not be exploited by the organisations. Dissident groups were also continuing to recruit and the threat they posed north of the Border had been raised to “severe”. “That’s not a word we use wantonly; we use it very carefully. We are obviously very concerned at the level of threat and it behoves us all to work together.”

Ms Gillespie was speaking to the media ahead of the opening of a Garda-PSNI cross-Border seminar on organised crime being held in Dundalk, Co Louth. The conference proper was not open to the media. When asked how many people were involved in dissident groups, Ms Gillespie said. “We’re talking in the low hundreds, but it depends what you mean by ‘involved’. “There are people who tacitly support these people; those people who turn a blind eye to what they do or don’t report what they do . . . or by lending a vehicle. But in terms of active involvement, you’re talking about low hundreds.”

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  • Fabianus

    So the threat has been raised to “severe”. Bad news.

    But in terms of active involvement, you’re talking about low hundreds.”

    This is hardly comforting. Two men could have built and planted the Omagh bomb without the involvement of “low hundreds”.

    Several of the Provos must know who these fuckers are and how they operate. They should finger them toot sweet before they do any more damage.

  • Garza

    It should be only a matter of time before MI5 gets informers in the dissident groups like the IRA during the troubles.

  • joeCanuck

    They obviously have already done so given the number of bombing attempts which have failed miserably over this past few years.

  • Pete Baker

    “This is hardly comforting.”

    Indeed, Fabianus.

    Particularly when that figure is of those ‘actively involved’.

    A number of assumptions there, joeC.

  • joeCanuck

    Perhaps I should have said “thwarted” rather than “failed miserably”. There have been quite a number where the would be perps have been caught on the way to do their dirty deeds or the bombs have failed to explode. Yes, I am assuming that the failed bombs were tampered with by the good guys or their agents.
    The number involved is very worrying. I seem to remember reading 20 years or so ago that the PIRA had only about 500 active people. So low hundreds could do a lot of damage if they’re not put out of business.

  • Pete Baker


    I don’t recall anyone calculating the proportion of instances where anything was “thwarted” or “failed miserably”.

    But I do recall a number of instances where the police simply refused to walk into a potential ambush.

    And we do have notable “successes”.

    Add in that the deputy chief constable was trying to downplay the “severe” threat and I think we can agree that there is a significant problem.