The new threat of the post ceasefire dissident Republicans

A year on from the killing of Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar shot at Massereene army base in Antrim there is now incontrovertible evidence that dissident republicans have the capacity to do immense damage into the future. Two developments in dissident republican engineering have forced the police to reassess their approach.

The bomb at Newry courthouse was the first time since Omagh on August 15 1998 that a so called improvised explosive device actually detonated. And the second development which is worrying the police is the fact that so called under vehicle bombs are having a deadly impact as was the case in the bomb attack on GAA footballer and PSNI officer Peadar Heffron.A similar device under the passenger seat of a car belonging to a police officer’s girlfriend in East Belfast was further evidence of growing expertise in the hands of dissidents. Does this mean dissident engineering skills are improving or has there been an influx of fresh personnel with real bomb-making skills? Neither of these two factors is mutually exclusive.

It has also been revealed that the Newry bombers had undertaken a dry run to the courthouse nearly a year ago in a huge disruptive exercise which paralysed traffic.

There is no evidence that security experts are seeing particularly new or original technology. What is shaking the police to the core is the fact that these -IEDS ( improvised explosive devices) are now detonating.

What is not clear is why rebel republicans are now having success after such a long period of botched operations like the device discovered not far from Ballykinlar security base in South Down. Again the bomb at the policing board headquarters in Belfast only partially exploded.

A former IRA activist who is totally committed to the peace and political processes is highly critical of some of the individuals known to him who are linked to dissident republicanism.

He pointed out it is not always easy to know the young people now involved because the IRA ended the war in 1994 when some of these people were only children.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry guys, that one got posted under my byline rather than Eamonn’s.. here’s your posts:

    Probably the most effective way to deal with the increased threat from dissident Republicans is to have increased cooperation between the Gardaí and the PSNI.

    Hopefully (and assuming that Police powers will be finally transferred) we can look forward to a distinctively local approach to the dissident problem with greater Gardaí numbers in the North particularly in traditionally Republican hotspots. Gardaí can already assist investigaions into crimes in the North and did so after the Quinn murder in South Armagh and apart from the parctical benfits this level of cooperation affords it will reinforce the message to dissidents and their supporters that attacking the PSNI is no different form attacking the Gardaí something their funny little Green book presumsably tells them not to do.

    Posted by Moderate Unionist on Mar 10, 2010 @ 09:57 AM
    MU/Sammy, the ‘cooperation’ has been in place since 1985 and I understand some Guards have served here.

    It’s possible that some of this cooperation led to the Banbridge and Omagh bombs getting through in 1998 ie because of the need to protect embedded British and/or Irish agents.

    Militant republicans appear to be mainly targeting Catholic members of the PSNI so I’m sure they will have few qualms about attacking any Guards who come here.

    Posted by Nevin on Mar 10, 2010 @ 10:17 AM
    “there is now incontrovertible evidence that dissident republicans have the capacity to do immense damage into the future.”

    That sounds like a quote straight from the lips of Martin McGuinness and his allegiance to the PIRA Code of Honour prevents him from revealing what he knows about his colleagues.

    Posted by Nevin on Mar 10, 2010 @ 10:32 AM

  • iluvni

    And of course that former IRA activist, being fully committed to the peace and political process will be doing all he can to assist the PSNI with information to assist the apprehension of those ‘individuals known to him’…and the young ones he doesnt know (cough).

  • Alias

    iluvni, of course. It won’t be limited to blaming murders committed by “good republicans” in one of the Shinners/Provos more lucrative organised crime rackets on “dissidents”, thereby using their elected officials in the political wing to divert the state’s policing agency away from the actual “untouchable” culprits in the organised crime wing.

  • Halfer

    I think a more robust mechanism for 32co self determination should be created. Security measures don’t work, political ones do….remember?

    Not that Eamonn cares, in the absence of stories about dastardly dissidents, what would he do for a living?

  • Greenflag

    ‘attacking the PSNI is no different from attacking the Gardaí ‘

    And that’s why these dissidents will fail. The people of NI have voted for the GFA and the people of ROI have voted also in favour of the GFA.
    The so called dissidents have nothing to offer the people of NI except further death and destruction . They have even less to offer than the TUV and that’s about the sum of it. If they become more than a nuisance both Governments will have to reintroduce ‘internment’ .

  • sdelaneys

    “GAA footballer and PSNI officer Peadar Heffron.”

    Footballer first and policeman second, that’s a new twist on things.

    “A former IRA activist who is totally committed to the peace and political processes is highly critical of some of the individuals known to him who are linked to dissident republicanism.”
    Can’t help wondering what he thought of those individuals when he was their ‘comrade’.

  • old school

    The bomb in Newry is not the first time since Omagh that an ied has exploded, as Eamonn has alluded
    There have been a number including Stewartstown Barracks, several explosions in Army bases in Derry City causing death and injuries, almost ten explosions in London, an undercar bomb exploding near Castlederg causing severe injuries,exploding boobytraps in Castlewellan, Magilligan and Limavady also causing lost limbs etc, and so on.

  • LabourNIman

    Looks like our new justice minister will be getting tested by the dissie’s straight away. I hope he/she has the stomach for it.

  • drunk as a rule

    I saw in the Belfast Telegraph Online that Sinn Fein’s Dathai McKay was saying in reference to the Police that firstly, “There is obviously public concern about police response times for some incidents, and there is a duty on the Chief Constable and the PSNI to look at these.

    Followed by

    “If the PSNI is unable to adequately respond to these incidents, then it is worth considering looking at a specific unit or specially trained officers to deal with such issues. That could lead to better response times and decrease the risk to the public.”

    Sounds like this isn’t just a job for the PSNI’s personal policing, caring Constables but is recognition something a bit sterner is required. Might we soon see support for Section 44 from his camp or even the British Army (I suppose they are the ones already de-fusing the dissidents malice). I wonder what other specific/specialist units they could provide to tackle dissident activity?

    Someone pinch me or is it April Fool’s Day already?

  • Mr E Mann

    MU, you’re on the mark on how to deal with the dissidents, and that kind of thinking points towards the right compromise on a lot of other issues too. But how many on your side are comfortable with a more-than-token ROI role in policing, or any other part of public policy, in the north? If more unionists thought as you do, I think there would be a permanent deal by now.

  • Mr E Mann, MU is a Nationalist masquerading as a Unionist 😉

  • kells

    That is a great idea,bring back internment and let’s see the whole place go off with a bang!

  • The two police forces will become more integrated, I believe it will happen quietly, no bells and whistles, just more and more cooperation.

    I do not know what to make of dissidents. I can understand older republican activists feeling let down by the peace process, these people clearly though they could bomb their way to a united Ireland, actually being told it cannot work by their own leadership must have hurt.

    The IRA killed many Irish people in a campaign that did not work. The dissidents, some young and according to an ‘expert’ unknown, are renewing the violent campaign by, you guessed it, killing Irish people. What do they do when one of us is hurt: call it ‘collateral damage’?

    Not in my name. Ireland is better than they are.